Sunday, December 6, 2015

The rest of the world may end not with a bang but a whimper, but I'm different.

I think I say this every year, but I can’t believe it’s only been 5 years since I last saw my mom.
It feels like a lifetime, like the time I spent with her while growing up was from a past life.

I’ve heard that every time you remember something, the memory changes a little as you add your own imagination to it. To me, that seems like a terrible thing because it’d mean every time I remember something about my mother, my memory of her would shift a little and it would get further and further away from the reality of how she really was like. At the same time, how could I stop thinking about her? That’d be equally as terrible.

I suppose I think a lot about useless things like that. Maybe I don’t need to think so deeply about it. But I was always a sentimental child, and as I’ve written somewhere else before, I’m a person with a lot of regrets.

I think it’s okay to regret things, even if it makes me sad sometimes. If anything, it helps me make wiser decisions now and hopefully avoid more regrets in the future. It helps me treasure the people around me now, and focus on being happy now so that I’ll have good memories of my time now later on.

I say that, but I also feel that I’m not doing enough. I asked myself earlier this week, “What have I done since the last time I made an entry like this?” I’m not too sure. I had a career change, I moved house, and I made new friends. But it’s all me, me, me. That’s not enough.

I have to live a life fulfilling enough for more than just myself. For my mother, who wasn’t able to live past 46, and still spent half of her life raising me, often on her own. For my grandma and grandpa, who have taken care of me since I was little, and even now care about me above anything else in the world. For my other family and relatives, who have me on the back of their minds. I need to live a life that makes all the love that my mom and family have given to me worth it.

To be honest, all I wanted when I was younger was to be normal. I didn’t have many friends when I was little, and my family wasn’t exactly the happiest family. I just wanted to be like everyone else, to not have to hide things that other people weren’t experiencing.

But now, I don’t want to be normal anymore. I said the same thing last year. Being normal is easy. Being normal would subdue all the love, kindness, and experiences I’ve received from the people who have devoted a large part of their lives to taking care of me. And for what? For me to just be alive and focus on making myself happy? 

I once shared some of my experiences with a teacher whom I was close with. I told her it was too bad she was never able to meet my mom and see how characteristic of a woman she had been. And my teacher said to me, “Vinci, even without meeting her, I know what your mom was like, because I can see her through you.”

I went home and cried that night, because I realized, then, that I really needed to become a better person.

The only way I can give back to the people who have loved me is to become someone who is deserving of their love.

It’s more difficult of a task than it seems because I don’t even like myself. How can I accept myself enough to be able to accept other people’s love, and pass that on to others?

I guess it’ll be a lifelong task. I'd better get started.

Thanks, Mommy, for giving me life. I’ll make sure it was worth it.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Home time is my favourite time.

Merry belated Christmas!

Unfortunately, my family has come across some health problems in recent days and I wasn't able to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Day. But luckily, I finally had some time today with no immediate obligations, so I spent all day at home doing my favourite things: reading, watching an old movie, playing piano, and of course, baking.

We had some sour apples at home that none of us really wanted to eat, so I turned all five of them into an apple pie. It was a success! I coated the apples with sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla to sweeten them up a bit, and the crust was crisp and flaky -- the perfect texture I was aiming for. All in all, I was pretty happy with the result.

Let's not take quiet days at home for granted. Wishing everyone a warm and happy winter holiday!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Gather ye rosebuds.

Sometimes I lose track of how many years it’s been -- but it’s only been four years. I graduated university in 2011, but my mother passed away just before that in 2010. It’s hard to believe it hasn't been an eternity since she was here.

My hope was that, every year, when I write an entry on December 6, I would find myself a little more grown up and a little wiser. Perhaps with some interesting anecdotes or enlightening experiences to share. Or maybe someday, I would be happy or busy enough with my life that I don’t need to write something like this. Instead, I just find myself feeling the same -- sometimes happy, sometimes sad -- just one year later, typing away at the screen.

Maybe it’s still too early. I still cry sometimes, when I’m alone. I see children with their parents, and I tear up. I watch movies with people at the hospital, and I want to cry. I listen to my friends talk about their parents, and I feel genuinely happy for them -- but also an uncontrollable pang of sadness. I have a really good day -- then I pick up her picture when I get home and cry because I wish my mother could see me now. Or better yet, I wish I could have given her some of my time.

I always think that I need twice the amount of energy, twice the amount of experience, and twice the amount of fulfillment in my life, to make up for the life lost that should have been my mother’s. I should be writing the book I’ve always wanted to, I should be becoming someone famous, or I should at least be making my way to "the top" as an ambitious career woman. But I’m not, and at most I guess I’m just a normal 25-year-old who doesn't know what to do with her normal life.

I don’t want to be normal. Being average is one of my worst fears. Born in an average family, go to an average school, get average grades and make average friends, get an average job, live an average lifespan -- and die. It sounds so futile and so terrible to me.

But I know already, I know, my family is not an average family. My mother was not an average person. My grandparents didn’t raise me in an average way -- they raised me with immeasurable love. 

And this is the frustrating part for me. How can I show, with my life, that all of this is not average? How can I turn the trivial thing that is my life, into something that isn’t fruitless? I don’t want a lot of money or luxury, or unnecessary fame. I just want to feel like I’m glad to be alive, and when I die, to feel glad to have lived.

I want to become the positive existence that I pretend to be. But, I also want to stay my sad self when I'm by myself, because I feel that if I cease to be sad it would mean forgetting my mom.

I just want her to be alive. But she's not, and I am.

What am I to do?

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

Friday, June 13, 2014

An old town filled with endless new life.

Hello, dear diary and dear readers! The rainy and hot season has already begun in Tokyo. I'm sorry to admit that I have neglected this blog for the past half year, but hopefully this will no longer be the case in the months to come. 

Upon misplacing my Sony digital camera that had accompanied me everywhere until recent months, I bought a new Fujifilm XA-1 camera this early spring. It is my first mirrorless camera, so I will need to take my time in getting used to using one; but hopefully this will be motivation for me to keep practicing and sharing some of my pictures here.

At the end of April, I took another long overdue trip to Kamakura. My first time in Kamakura was in the early spring of 2013 when I visited film director Ozu Yasujiro's grave, and it remains to be one of my most beloved cities so far in Japan.

The weather was beautiful at the beginning of Golden Week, and I'm glad I was able to take a trip down there before it became too crowded later in the week.

I didn't visit too many places this time around, but it was a lovely day well spent. Starting with a hot latte in the morning at a coffee shop near the station, we made our way down a series of roads, progressively away from the station and the crowds, eventually arriving at Hokokuji.

The gardens were neatly kept at Hokokuji, and the bamboo forest provided a cool and quiet atmosphere to take in the spring air, filtered sunlight, and the liveliness of nature.

The beautiful shades of green, and vivid yet subtle colours of flora, gave me fresh energy amidst the constant and busy, urban work life.

We recharged with a long lunch at a small, Italian restaurant hidden on the second floor of a building located in the middle of a busy, shopping alley. Finally, we took the Enoden to Enoshima for a bright view of the ocean, and had our fill of the air and sounds of the seaside.

 Kamakura, you have yet to disappoint me -- and I doubt you ever will. I will be back soon!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

And then it was the third year.

Today's rather uneventful day marked my mother's third death anniversary. "It's been three years already", or "It's been only three years since", I still can't make up my mind between the two.

This year, I am writing from the comfort of my latest home in Tokyo, Japan. It may seem to you like December 6 has become "that time to write another depressing post" for me, but that is, in fact, not true at all in terms of how I view this day. I think it's simply that today is the one day in which I feel I can let myself dwell a little more on my grief. Today isn't the day when I write a post "in memory of my mother"; every day, I live in memory of my mother. But if there's going to be any day, it's today for trying to put some of my thoughts into words, because that is what I most regret not doing before, and one of my hardest lessons learnt from my mother's passing.

Grief doesn't gradually disappear or subside. It's always here, tucked away in this corner or that corner inside. It's like trying to hold back an ocean with its waves beating against you constantly. As probably everyone who has ever lost anyone says, you just learn to live with loss, because it's never going to go away. "Time heals all wounds", but loss isn't a wound. It's just… a void.

Of course, there's Tennyson who very romantically states, "It is better to have love and lost, than never to have loved at all."

But, oh, losing is so, so difficult.

It's one of those phrases that you repeat to yourself, hoping that if you repeat it enough times, you'll finally start to believe it. Love gives you so many good memories, and it teaches you kindness and adds perspective and flavour to your life. Certainly, it is a very good and essential part of life. But coming across too much flavour changes your tastes, and with experiencing love, you also learn what it means to lose it, to feel the lack, and the bitterness and resentment on the flip side of it. There were so many days before when I couldn't stand being in society, because I didn't want to see how things could still function without my mom's existence. They sound like two completely irrelevant issues, but are nevertheless among the mass of feelings that grew inside me since my mom became bedridden, even before her death.

The half year from summer and winter of 2010 has been, inarguably, the worst time in my life yet. I suppose one thing to admit (or reiterate, as I basically said the same thing two years ago) is that loss is, in many ways, much more easier to deal with than seeing the prolonged suffering of a loved one. So many times, it hurt me to see people with the privilege to live their lives normally. It made me angry to ride the bus and watch old couples on their way home from a nice walk around town, or perhaps from their daily trip to the grocery store. Naturally, it was even more frustrating when I came across old people who, incidentally, had terrible attitudes. I would think to myself, "Why is this person--so completely undeserving and non-contributive to society--alive and well up until an old age, while my mother--beautiful, strong, and brilliant--was literally rotting away at her still young age, suffering and confined in front of the same white wall everyday?"

My mother has and would have continued to accomplish so much, and would have kept making the world a little brighter everyday, if only she didn't die. Clearly I have no evidence, but I'd like to imagine that she would have made a much more positive impact on the world than some other people, who are still living now, would ever make. It sounds awfully judgmental (or just plain awful) of me to say such a thing, and it is. But everything in life is subjective; objectivity may, perhaps, just be subjectivity in a humble disguise.

Since I was little, for one reason or another, I've always known and accepted the fact that life is unfair. It just is; there's no use making a big fuss about it. It's simply the truth. Saying that doesn't make me a negative person, however. On the contrary, knowing that life is going to be unfair no matter what I do, I live with the philosophy that that fact is not going to change, so I might as well think positively rather than the opposite. It's basically just about the only choice I do have.

I wonder if my mother ever had these kinds of bitter thoughts. She never seemed passive aggressive like how I am. She went through so much in her life, and how I wish the world knew even half of how she lived her rocky life with such finesse. I don't feel ashamed at all about feeling bitter. But I wonder if my mother, with a similarly difficult life, had similar thoughts too and just dealt with it much more gracefully than I ever have.

I can only spend the rest of my life pursuing the grace she had exhibited, so subtle that I was only able to notice after she was gone.

I miss and love you, Mommy.

(Past memorable entries regarding my mother: 2010, 2011, early 2013)