Hiroshima All Over Again

i never know when it will strike. this deadly demon called cancer.

he’s vicious. he’ll lead us on, making us think she’s recovered with her clever wit and bright eyes.

he strikes at unlikely times. she’ll be in the middle of a bite, or marveling over a herd of horses glimpsed from the car window. she’ll be laughing at a joke, or playing checkers with me (and winning).

suddenly she’ll begin rocking herself back and forth, and moaning, soft and low. the light will fade from her eyes and her head will droop like a rag doll.

no doubt there’s a battle raging inside; flashes of immunity’s sword, cancer’s devilish laugh, his fake retreat and then whoosh: Hiroshima all over again.

you would never know she was going through such pain. we lay her down to rest next to her stuffed panda i brought back from beijing, hoping she’ll sleep it off and wake up cancer-free. miracles still happen — don’t they?beautiful-mom.jpg

art of contentment

img_1274.jpgevery morning i awake to the sound of frogs chirping. roses climb past my window, evoking awe with their plump pink presence.

the sky is one mass of blue, specked with resilient clouds. not a traffic pole in sight… only miles upon miles of corn fields. the birds chirp with trembling sopranos and responsive altos, making a musical feast for my ears.

my whole life, i’ve wanted to live in the city. where angry drivers scream “*&% you!”, radios blare, horns honk and commercialism buzzes. where billboards block sunlight and skyskrapers intimidate the birds.

i’m learning a lot about the art of contentment. the peace that comes from hanging up laundry, from sitting outside at dusk and sipping on green tea, from taking a bike ride into town and letting the wind swoosh through my hair.

i’ve been converted. it’s a country life for me, baby.

under the influence

jun16_01-11.jpgtonight i’m writing under the influence…

of self-pity.

it’s easy to sacrifice your heart and body when the person is cute and cuddly.

it actually means something, however, if you continue to do it when she turns rather prickly.

i have commemorated this blog to remembering my mother during her sickness. so far, my posts have been fuzzy and warm.

today was dark and cold. it’s not that she’s mean. it’s that she says things without thinking. because she’s missing that part of her brain. it breaks my heart. she doesn’t even remember when we have visitors over anymore. and sometimes i wonder if she’ll remember me.

on days like these i just want to crawl into my husband’s arms and feel the beat of his heart close to mine. i want to run to the edge of the earth and squander my happiness on things that won’t last.

but i’m sticking around. i’m determined to love my mother in her hour of need. because i know she doesn’t mean what she says. and i know that deep down, she loves me.

i’m not writing this so that you’ll feel sorry for me. i’m writing to ask you to pray for my mother.

i know it’s moments like these that matter in light of eternity.

breakfast in bed

morning has broken.

i hear her soft slippers on the stairs, slow and determined. my eyes are still closed, but sunlight filters through the window softly kissing my cheeks.

the knob turns, she pokes her flushed head through the door and looks at me, blue eyes sparkling with the effort.  she continues to balance the tea with both hands and walk carefully over to my bed.

it’s a big feat for mom, whose hands shake uncontrollably. it’s her way of reassuring me she’s still here. of proving to herself that she can still take care of her little girl.

i take the tea, smile sleepily up at my angel-mother in her purple bathrobe sliding off one shoulder, tied loosely in the middle.

but she’s not finished. reaching into her deep purple pocket she pulls out a banana with flourish, holding it high in the air then placing it on the bed beside me. mom’s memorized my breakfast routine, and made sure to provide it free of charge.

i laugh, applaud, tell her she’s a magician producing things out of thin air. she smiles then says, “well, that’s why i have a pocket so i can carry things you see. and THIS is why i have two arms”…. she stretches out her arms and enfolds me, “so i can hug you.”

what a beautiful start to the morning.

bop to the birds

img_1450.jpgthe wind was flirting with the sheer white curtains.

i had prepared salad and biscuits, being careful to slice up some cheese, because that’s my mother’s only food group. we sat down and prayed, then i began to eat. my mom, on the other hand, began to bobble her head like one of those things you buy for the car.

that’s when i noticed the music she’d turned on. it’s impossible for her to eat AND listen to music. so after 10 minutes of quiet dancing, i gently warned her, “mom, if you don’t eat, i’m going to have to turn off the music.”

she smiled lopsidedly and seemed to agree, picking up her fork and stabbing it into a piece of cheese. but she kept swaying to the music.

outside the birds were competing with the music, their voices clamoring lyrically about something or other.

i made my way over to the stereo, switched it off, then returned to the table, feeling much like i’d just reproached a child. she didn’t seem to mind.

she turned to me, big eyes full of mischief and said, “well then, i guess i’ll just have to bop to the birds.”

heart status

i sat on the cold, stiff chair, facing row upon row of smiling facades.

everyone stared me in the eye, daring me to see them as someone different. daring me to call them hypocrites.

and i couldn’t for the plank in my own pupil.

but suddenly it came: a lightening-thought zig-zagging across my stormy brain.

what if flesh were stripped away, leaving behind pure heart? what if my eyes could bore through 100 per cent cotton shirts, beneath rib cages, and see people as they really are?

what would we look like then?

as christians, we sing in church; we pray at home; we talk about God. physically, we bow in ‘worship’, but do our hearts remain standing, stiff and stubborn?

i can only pray that when people look into my eyes, they see a beautiful heart.

mass-marketed meaning

today i felt like a tourist in my own country.

toronto’s metallic sky scrapers begged me to snap photos of the colossal mess…

tall towers of empty dollars, reaching desperately for heaven, unaware of their loneliness.

culture slapped me in the face again when i stepped into Square One — a super mall.

people rushing, plastic bags in hand, eyes glazed, needing, wanting, determined to further the cash-cycle by adding one more swoosh to their sleeves.

i stood in the sea of zoned faces, desperately seeking some soul. all i found were branded humans, each looking much like the other, certain that meaning could be bought.

then it struck me: i’ve become an outsider. i no longer fit.

with my new ideologies on fast food (evil) and giant corporations (evil) malls no longer hold any appeal whatsoever.

so i turned and walked away from the beehive of mass-marketed shoppers: saddened by these oblivious pawns.

skin and bones (about a girl named courteny)

her skin was like ice cream, pale and smooth, stretched across her fragile bones with scarce a ripple.

i sat like a bump on the log. we faced each other. i cleared my throat, her big eyes became bigger, expecting, waiting for me to try to sympathize. for my sad attempt at understanding her sad situation.

so tiny, a breath of air could have blown her over.

my voice began pouring out memories. it seemed like only yesterday i sat in her skin, stretched over my bones, refusing to eat. food was my enemy; i would die to be thin. was there anything more to life?

night after night, measuring my wrists, feeling my ribs, content for the rumblings in my concave stomach.

her mouth opened slightly in shock. i’d struck a nerve. i’d stepped into her life, and pulled out the obvious: she was not unique in this endeavour.

together, we sat still, feeling kindred behind bony bars. our stomachs growled in unison. my eyes full of tears, i begged her to eat the food enslaving her. one mouthful at a time.

she nodded, head down, tear falling. and behind her skin and bones, a soul began to breathe.

song for mom

1.

you’re sitting there, looking at me

with your big blue eyes and your coffee

and i wonder, do you see me?

2.

dancing around, laughing outloud

with your hands held high and

your head slightly bowed

and i wonder, where’s the music?

chorus:

when the sky turns blue and

the waves roll in

when i open my eyes

in the morning

will you be here?

bridge:

tomorrow holds its breath

i hug you tight

close the door,

whisper good night and

i wonder… will you be here?