The Art Of Letting Go
Lucas wanted to be free—this wasn't going to happen today.
After throwing a tantrum at his therapist for poking too deep into his trauma, he went out in a flair, stalking the streets with his heavy-set shoulders and deep frowns that frightened other people surrounding him, causing them to give him a wide berth. Lucas was a big man, who could tower over an average person easily, making him always feel like a giant among dwarfs. It was different when he had been in his basketball team in high school, where everybody had the similar or the same body size, but he was no longer in high school, and instead was nearing his thirties, still throwing tantrums like a kid that he no longer was.
As he moved without being aware of where he was going, he reran the dialogue he had with his therapist, and out of burst of frustration and anger redirected towards his therapist, he ran, exerting his legs as much as he could. He ran and ran, and a part of him imagine that if he could run fast enough, he would be able to fly, like how airplanes started to fly after running on the tracks. But he wasn't a bird nor was he an airplane, so he stayed on the ground, running until he was out of breath. He collapsed on the ground, heaving as he looked down, staring at the tar ground.
Now that he exhausted all his pent-up energy gained from anger, he could at least think rationally about what he did to Dr. John. And while he was still angry and still prone to insulting his therapist, a small part of him started to feel guilty at his harsh reaction.
"I can't believe I just did that." He sighed as he rubbed his face. He looked around him, and he suddenly realized that he was in front of a gate, which guarded a graveyard where his uncle was buried in. Lucas' heart thumped a little faster, and his legs were itching to run away—here lied the one man he let down, the one man he couldn't even see before the man died from cancer. Lucas' uncle was the one family member that cared for him even when most would have given up, and if there was one thing he regretted, it was not being able to show to his uncle how much he truly was truly thankful for it.
Despite of feeling guilty, Lucas pushed himself to move forward, opening his gate as a part of him whispered that he could still avoid doing this. But Lucas spent all his life running, whether from his dysfunctional parents or from his emotions, or even now, from his therapist. If he ran now, he would truly run forever. His feet trembled slightly at first, but gradually he gained a traction and moved with purpose towards his uncle's grave. The gravestone had a marble sheen to it, and he touched it, hoping for something that he couldn't put a name to. Then he brushed away the wet leaves that cluttered his uncle's grave and sat down on the wet ground, breathing in the musty humid air deeply into his lungs.
In or out of prison, Lucas' uncle was the only one who stayed along his side, whether it was by telling his friends who were prison guards to look after Lucas or by giving him a roof over his head when Lucas came out of prison. Although Lucas knew his uncle had cared then, Lucas hadn't been able to trust him completely, preferring to trust his prison friends or his other crooked friends who smoke crack and swear and insulted their own mothers.
That led to multiple prison sentences for small felonies, and a part of Lucas was ashamed to say that he did it because he had company in the prison, and he wanted to be with them more than being outside. In an ironic way, Lucas had come to see these prison friends as family, when all along, he had one already who cared for him in an almost unconditional manner. Needless to say, Lucas wasn't surprised that except for one, the rest lost contact with him when he decided to pick his life up and make something out of it.
Lucas leaned against the gravestone, again trying to feel for something he had no name for, only to feel a dull emptiness in his chest. The anger from before receded, making him more rational about what happened before wit Dr. John. Dr. John was a great therapist, something that took Lucas few years to truly admit out loud. As a boy with a father who was a violent alcoholic and a mother who tried to ignore everything that happened at home, it was both difficult to trust and difficult to admit that he needed help, especially from somebody he was paying money to, who he initially thought was only doing the job for the money.
Dr. John wasn't the only person he had difficulty trusting initially, but also his girlfriend, Janet, who had difficult times persevering through her relationship with him (which was a testament to her strength of will to stay with Lucas—who had issues of his own that would have made many women run away). Sometimes Lucas couldn't help but wonder why people kept up with him relentlessly, despite the many times he was willing to give up on himself.
When Lucas first went into therapy, he had thought therapy was about talking, and some philosophical bullshit. But it was much more than that—Dr. John had to actively find ways to help him venture into his own memories and pain, using EMR or many other methods that seemed unworkable at first, but it had an effect that helped Lucas progress to where he was today.
But while he could now handle some of the more painful memories he used to hide from himself and look at his parents' negligence and abuse as a past he was no longer in, there were still many issues he was not aware of, pangs of pain he still felt and anger that could be triggered by the most unexpected thing. This time, this therapy session had brought him over that edge between calmness and anger, though this time he truly lost control of himself, like he had let go of the car steering wheel as he was heading into a crash.
He curled up at the memory, finally feeling the full depth of his guilt that overpowered his anger. He shouldn't have done that. No, he wasn't supposed to do that. He was in therapy for so many years; he should have been better by now, where most of the issues should have been solved. That was how Lucas felt when he first learned to truly look at his past as the past rather than something that followed him like a ghost into the present.
But the more he solved the issues that he and Dr. John found, the more he found them. And each time he found an issue, he learned that another foreign emotion that he had either long forgotten or learned to ignore in the rhythm of violence, anger and daily life. Yet they were always buried somewhere in his heart, in his body, in his head—everywhere on his physical body. He may look big and strong, but Lucas knew that there was a young boy in him that was still afraid.
And to reach out to there made the other part of him rebel, simply because he wasn't comfortable with feeling vulnerable, with feeling inadequate as a human being with all the issues that seemed immeasurable. Who was he exactly? Was he defunct all along, and he would never find true peace? As time passed, he grew frustrated, and all these frustrations turned to silent anger, only waiting for the right time to be unleashed.
A combination of silent anger and the loathing of being vulnerable had made him throw a tantrum then in the therapy session earlier. No matter how much he trusted Dr. John, he wasn't able to dispel the idea that vulnerability was dangerous in itself, because it was the single moment that people could manipulate you and break you apart even if you were usually strong.
Lucas was one of those people who knew that anything could be broken apart provided you knew how, and thus he never knew how to trust in things that were strong and present now, for the fear of them leaving him easily in the near future. It was a lesson he had to keep learning, a lesson that he failed to completely understand and digest into his fearful mind. And sometimes he felt like it was a lesson he could never completely master.
Lucas looked above, craning his head towards the sky. The sun was out this time, but rain started to drizzle again, caressing his skin.
He breathed in the smell of light rain, grass and the earth, feeling it touch his lungs in an intimate manner. It settled an air of calm in his heart, though the undercurrents in his heart was ever violent. There was no sound, except for the occasional sound of shuffle, most likely from the squirrels moving from tree to tree, or the birds in the trees, chirping to each other in a language one could never hope to learn.
It was moments like this when Lucas felt both calm and chaotic at the same time, stuck in both his own inner world and yet vaguely aware of the world outside of him, a world he wanted to fully enter in but could not for some reason. He was a foreign element in the world that seemed to go on peacefully forward, unperturbed by what had happened yesterday or a year before. When he started his therapy with Dr. John, the one thing he learned about trauma was how it isolated you from the world, leaving you unable to fully form the human connections to feel accepted into a world.
But he would add that the more human connections you are prevented from having, the more you stop becoming human. Although it was difficult to digest initially, Lucas believed that being human was being able to be vulnerable with people who you can trust. In a way, recovering was a process of becoming human again.
To turn from unhuman to human was a difficult process for Lucas. It meant dismantling the wrong beliefs, wrong conceptions of the world and repeatedly faced with a single question: was he going to let go? Was he going to let go of who he was completely, or was he going to keep some part of who he was? And if it was the latter, what parts of him was he going to keep? After all these years of therapy, Lucas came to a semi-confirmed answer: there were parts of him he could let go; there were other parts which he could not, even if he wanted to and there were other parts of him that he did not want to let go, even if he could.
Forgiving his parents was one of those things he had refused to do. Before Lucas began therapy, he was constantly berated by Janet to forgive his parents in order to start healing. But Lucas was never comfortable with the idea, and although he knew Janet hadn't meant it, it had actually made him less motivated to help himself and more shameful of himself in his unwillingness to do that one thing. Eventually he told Dr. John about it, and Dr. John told him that forgiveness wasn't prerequisite to getting better. It made him feel more at ease and more accepting of himself for this one thing he wasn't willing to do.
After Janet heard about what Dr. John said, she accepted that it wasn't necessary as she thought, even though she had encouraged it sometimes. He knew Janet wasn't being insensitive, but because she felt like that was the only way for Lucas to truly move on from the past and truly be free and happy. To not forgive was to hold a certain amount of negativity, and she hadn't want him to hold onto any of it into his present time.
But Lucas didn't think it was possible to ever not carry some negativity from the past, or some type of burden. As Dr. John said, you could never erase the effect of the past completely, but you could learn to live with it and build a life that you would be happy with. He still struggled sometimes to believe that he could truly build a better life out of the shambles he was in, and his earlier outburst made him less confident again.
It wasn't that Lucas couldn't forgive—he always thought he could if he truly gave it a shot at it. But he didn't want to, because no matter how much he understood how everybody is human and how his parents, as dysfunctional and horrible as they were, had their own stories to why they became the way they are, the young boy in him still had suffered at their hands and was helpless in protecting himself. That young boy in him wasn't willing to forgive his parents. And his mature, understanding side wasn't that willing either—he found that he was rather protective of that younger boy inside him, a protective side that understood instinctively how much he had went through, how much life struggles he had gone through simply because two adults were not willing to take care of him.
It was nasty to some people, but it was this part of him he wasn't willing to let go. Out of all things he was willing to change, this was the part of him he kept, because it formed the crux of who he really was—somebody who grew to hate seeing people get hurt, because the people around him are not caring or loving enough to protect who they should. And this was the single part of him that he loved about himself—there was already enough things that he hated himself for without adding another one on top.
In a way, Lucas and Janet complemented each other—while Lucas didn't forgive those who hurt him intimately and those who hurt his loved ones, Janet could forgive those who hurt her, even in the most intimate ways. That was why she could even keep up with him, because she was able to repeatedly forgive him and support him even when she was hurting a lot more from the rejections and problems he gave her.
Even though they came from different backgrounds, Janet was always curious, always willing to learn what it was like to grow up in a home like his, how it was like to have life experiences such as his. Sometimes when she heard about how his parents behaved, she would press her lips together, as if she was trying to understand. One day, she came to him, and she admitted something that was an antithesis to who she was—"I wasn't sure if I would be able to forgive people like your parents if I was brought up with them."
"But you managed to forgive your parents. And even me," he added the last phrase playfully, but he frowned at Janet's change of heart. Janet's parents were strict, very demanding and at times they said things to her that may be considered by some as emotional abuse.
"That's true. But I had the comfort that at least they had loved me, even if they sometimes didn't do it in a way that helped me. You didn't." She took his hands into hers. "And for you, I always knew that you did your best and that even if you were horrible to handle at times, you love me."
Perhaps love was a factor that people think about when comes to forgiveness—it was easier to forgive somebody who meant good will for you over somebody who meant bad will for you. They were silent after that conversation, and Lucas admitted that he mulled over whether he could forgive somebody who meant well but also hurt him badly. Truthfully, he didn't know nor did he want to know.
Lucas took his phone out, and as the phone rang, the voice came on. "Hello."
"Janet." He breathed out.
"What's wrong?" They were together for long enough to know each other's breaths and intonations.
"Nothing. Just wanted to call you. How's work?"
She mulled. "Everything is fine so far. There is some cheesecake in the fridge. Do you want me to bring them home? I think you'll love it." Lucas always felt better after eating something delicious—something that Janet teased him for.
"it's not strawberry flavored, right?"
"Of course not. It's blueberry."
"Okay. I'll come back earlier then."
She was silent before she asked, in quiet voice. "Is everything alright?"
He sighed. "Just a bit of a rough day."
"The usual stuff."
"It sounds more intense than usual."
"I'll cook something nicer then. What would you like?"
"So you would only cook something nice for me when I'm like this?" He couldn't help but tease her. It also lightened up his mood.
She laughed. "I'll cook any time you want, you greedy man."
"I can be greedy if I want—you are my girlfriend."
"Yeah, yeah, I have to go back to work."
"You can't give more time to your boyfriend over your work?"
"Geez." She laughed again, her voice like wind bells to him. "You can have all my time when I get back. Now leave me alone."
"Ok. Love you."
"Love you too."
After calling Janet, he looked down at his phone, mulling over his next choice. Calling Janet was to give him back his equilibrium, to make him more settled down. Now that he was more clear-minded, he tried to fight back against the nervousness as he called the next person.
"Hello, Dr. John."
"Oh, Lucas. How are you feeling now?"
Even after so many years with Dr. John, he still couldn't understand how Dr. John can be so calm with raging, emotional patients like him.
"I'm sorry for what I did before."
"Ah." There was a brief pause. "I think I told you before that this is part of therapy, right?"
"Yes. But I'm still sorry for doing that. I shouldn't have done that."
"It's okay. It sometimes can get out of hand. We can talk about why you reacted that way the next session. Don't blame yourself too much, okay?"
He scratched his head. "Don't blame myself, huh?"
"I'm serious. Don't blame yourself for being human, Lucas."
Lucas repeated the word in his head. Human. It hadn't registered in his mind before that he genuinely believed that he wasn't quite human, wasn't quite the same as the rest of the world, even after having Janet, some good friends and a good support system. It was until here that he realized—yes, he was human, even if he was cut off from the world once. As much as he could be violent and cold, he could be warm and loving. This was the duality of humanity—and it was hard to ever realize it until one had stood on both sides.
He could hear the smile in the therapist's voice. "You are finally willing to learn to be less harsh on yourself."
"The you before would have given me thousands of reasons to why you should blame yourself repeatedly."
He couldn't help but laugh. "It was rather irritating to hear them."
"It can be. Remember, Lucas. Healing takes time."
"Good. Now I have to attend to my next client as much as I want to continue speaking."
"Okay. Thank you, Dr. John."
"No problem." The phone cut off there, and Lucas stood up, as he dusted off the grass that stuck to his buttocks.
He looked around, and then towards the gravestone where his uncle lied. He had committed horrible mistakes; one being not visiting his uncle before he passed away. He touched the gravestone again, and he whispered an apology. Yes, he would forever carry the burden of his mistakes, but the best way to ever make it up was live a proper life. It was to live a life his uncle would have been proud for, a life that Janet and Dr. John would be happy to see.
He was no longer the lone man who faced the world—there were people around him that would pick him up when he needed to be picked up and that even if he lashed out due to vulnerability, they were able to see that in him. Even though a part of him knew this for a long time, it only settled into him fully now.
This was what healing was about, Lucas realized. There would always be times where his old self would fight the changes he tried to implement or old beliefs would come back and haunt him, dispelling the new beliefs or giving him the same old insecurities. To become somebody that he could be proud of was to win the war with his old, untrusting self.
And it was a long battle, where if he thought he would lose and give up, he would truly lose the war. Not only today, but he had to keep fighting the war every other day—until one day he realized his old self was so far behind that it no longer haunted him like how it had always been doing so. Today he won one battle—the next would be battle that would be unexpected, but he would survive and win it. He had to—and he would.
Change is a constant in life, taking its pace to instill it into one's soul and body. What you were yesterday is not necessarily what you are today. He would take his time, and he would keep trying to get better, even if he could not be better in every department of his life and even if he kept a part of him that most people disliked. But that would be alright, because he had somebody who loved him even at his worst, and would be happy enough to know that he changed enough for him to be happy with himself.
And that was enough to be free.
A pain you can’t describe
I don't know how to describe a pain so deep and so silent—the kind that you don't know how to tell anymore, because you force yourself to never speak about it, till you have forgotten what words are used to describe it.
It isn't the kind of pain that demand anger out of you. It isn't the kind of pain that demand tears from you. It's the kind of pain you live with everyday, where you feel its timbre when you are alone, watching the clock's hand move, while you stand still.
It's the kind of pain that learned to be silent.
It's the kind of pain that need to be put in words—
But you won't try
Because there isn't anybody to hear it
Or there's nobody who wants to hear it,
For it breaks them or confuses them
And it only hurts you more,
To know that even if you do try,
It will fail again and again.
So you keep silent,
Watch the clock tick,
While the pain fester within,
And one day
Somebody would ask why are you pale
Why are you not well
Why are you sick
But you still won't answer
Because they won't understand
Or they never want to.
I want you to hear me—sit there, and let my words wash over you.
I want to grab your hands as my heart twists at the thoughts that run in my mind, the feelings that squeezes my every vein.
I want you to look at me, soft eyes boring into my hard fragile eyes.
Touch me with care, caress me with understanding that you might not really have.
I know you’ll never understand what I say—you could never be me enough to understand.
And let my words sink in you.
That’s all I ask—
For you to remember this moment of vulnerability I have,
And know that I’m human, no matter how strong I might seem outside.
A Poem to those who saw me drowned and never moved
I watched your eyes—for any sign.
I watched your hands, legs, your movements—for any sign.
I watched—expecting a move forward; I'm drowning, and I'm waiting for you to make a move to save me.
Yet, you stood there; your eyes were blind or maybe they didn't see me. Didn't want to see me.
And the water continue to overwhelm me, choking me as it grabbed into its depths.
Let me tell you what's worse than drowning—it's when someone could save you but chose not to.
We are always watching, always waiting for someone to save us,
It's what my every move was for—the cries, the scream, the pleads—
For you to realize I needed you.
But you didn't. Or you didn't want to.
So I had to learn to swim,
Learn to float above this water,
Learn to survive in this mess I'm in.
I don't know what to feel about you,
Except to know that from the very start,
I never needed you,
And it was a feeling of freedom tinged with sadness,
For I would never know what it was like
To be saved by love and care.
And I would never know what it is like
To be responded to when I ask for help.
I must keep breathing
The desire to end my life is like a shadow,
Hovering behind me, never stopping to remind me
That if I truly choose it, it is there
As a fake relief, with an unknown consequence,
But nevertheless carrying a feeling of ending,
An ending to this pain, to whatever is left of this life.
I build my life everyday,
Even with this desire tries to break it down,
So that one day,
This desire would have nothing left to entice me for,
For my life would be so complete: with pain, with happiness, with sadness, with joy, with everything that makes me alive—
I must keep breathing to achieve that,
Even when all I want to be
His Packed Roses; Her Thousand Cranes
White paper cranes hung from the ceiling, as if they came from the skies; they are my hopes and wishes in the form of a bird—so they could be delivered to anyone above, who would listen to my prayer. Below lay my father in bed, while the heart monitor continued to beep, like a countdown to his death, except I don't know when he would finally give up his last breath.
What was I to do when the person I love is going to die at any moment?
"Martha." She looked away, walking stubbornly forward. In her hands were strings connected to helium balloons. It was a gift for every kid after they performed in their end-of-year ceremony and Martha only managed to see her father after everybody went home.
"Martha, I'm sorry. Papa couldn't make it in time." Martha kicked the stones on the ground as she ignored her father. Not once her father ever came for any school event. She swallowed a bitter taste behind her throat as she remembered how everybody had their parents hug and kiss them after their performance.
Her father continued. "Papa will bring you to McDonalds as an apology, Martha. Just...just forgive me, would you?"
"Papa promised," she spoke as if it was the only thing that mattered.
"I know. But I..." Her father placed his hands on her shoulder and she turned around. Her father was kneeling down, as he bit his lip. Reaching out to her face, he caressed it. "How was it, Martha?"
Martha looked down again. "Nice." She played with the strings. She wanted to push her father away for what he did but as she saw him with his sad look, she felt bad for acting the way she had been.
Her father said nothing but pressed a kiss on her forehead before pulling her into a hug. Martha hugged her father back, accidentally letting go of a few strings.
"I promise that it will be the last time, Martha. I promise that papa will come the next time."
Martha didn't believe it but when she was in his warm embrace, she pretended to be a normal girl with two parents instead of one, with hugs and kisses any time she wanted. It's a dream but dreams last sweetly as they come to Martha and that was enough. For the moment.
I fold another crane. I didn't write anything in them.
I placed them on his arm, watching the crane fall sideways. I eventually managed to make it stay still.
With my two arms on the bed, I placed my chin on the bed, watching the crane, just hoping.
Martha sat across the table, watching her father fold a crane. Her lips curved up, forming a wide smile as her father plop the crane on her head. He laughed as she took it down and beamed at him.
"Papa! Teach me how to make it. I want to make that bird!"
"It's a crane, Martha." He ruffled her hair. Taking a piece of paper, he gave one to her and he took another. "You see, you have to fold it this way." He showed her using the piece of paper in his hand.
She fumbled. Her first try didn't look as good as her father's. She pouted, but her father looked at her, ruffling her head again. "You have to be patient. I didn't get it the first time either." He then took another piece of paper to show her again. After three tries, Martha managed to fold one that resembled the one her father folded.
"Yes!" She jumped around the apartment with glee in her voice, then eventually settled upon setting the paper crane on the coffee table, kneeling on the ground and watching the crane, as if it could come alive at any moment and fly.
Another weight landed on her head again. Martha bowed her head down slightly—another piece of origami landed in front of the crane. She breathed with her eyes wide. "It's a rose!"
Her father kneeled beside her. "Yeah. It's a rose." There was a hint of grief in his voice but it would be years later when Martha found out that it was the way her father wooed her mother before she passed away. Her father wasn't one to tell his feelings outright.
But he was the type to write them out.
He took the rose. Delicately, he pulled down the flaps holding it in place, and tug them. The paper curls unraveled and it was then that Martha realized there was some writing on it.
On the paper, it wrote: I'm sorry.
Martha furrowed her brows. "Papa?"
He ruffled her hair, dropping a kiss on her forehead. "I'm sorry if I ever break any promises before. But if there's one that I won't break, Martha, that is that I'll always love you. I only wish that you'll forgive me...when I don't quite..." he trailed off, but before he could continue, Martha sat on his lap, and lied against his chest. She did not say a thing because her father understood her actions better than what she said.
And so they remained there. Martha never noticed her father's shoulders were less tense after she got off his lap and asked him to teach her more origami folds.
This time I fold a rose. It's never as good as his but it will do.
I keep folding them. The bed was soon filled with paper roses of different colors. Love, my father once said roses represented that.
But no matter how many I fold, it will never be enough to ever bring back time.
The sky was clear blue, with the trees swaying in the light breeze. The heat was gentler today, not like the scorching heat it was yesterday. Martha held a paper rose in her hand, turning it over and smiling while her friend, Joyce, teased her for having a father who had a romantic sense.
Martha rolled her eyes. "Roses is just the way my father likes to say 'I love you'. He doesn't see it as being romantic. He just sees it as a way to express his love for somebody." Martha knew that because her father had always given roses not to her mother only, but to her grandmother, who had passed away two years ago. Martha still missed her grandma, who despite her habit of swearing, taught her to be strong and confident about herself. Her grandma was like her female idol—minus swearing because her father hated it—and Martha always remembered her lessons when she faced difficulties in life.
"But still! Your father should get girls from doing this. Girls swoon over them."
She laughed. "My father doesn't really have an interest in anybody." Her father still loved her mother deeply, even though she passed away from an accident after Martha was born. Martha admired that type of love her father had for her mother.
"Either way, what did he write this time?"
She smiled. Her father would draw or write on paper before folding it into a rose, placing it on the counter before he went out for work. He did this everyday, ever since she was seven, after breaking his promise of going to her end-of-year school performance. At fifteen, Martha felt that he did it because he realized that he could not be with her always, and he wanted to make sure she felt cared for, even in the smallest way possible. Despite her father being busy, he always made sure to come back in the evening, and they would have dinner together, talking about everything: what they did, who they met, what they love.
She won't exchange her father for anything.
"He wrote a nice quote in it this time." She raised her head up, letting a leaf fell on her forehead. Shaking it off, she continued, "Nothing cliche." She wasn't a fan of cliche quotes. Cliche quotes usually spoke of idealistic ideas rather than realistic situations.
"Oh? What is it?"
She unfolded the paper rose and showed it to Joyce. Written on the crumpled paper was this statement:
Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.
By Anais Nin
Remember this: Love, while it's powerful, it can be defeated sometimes.
"Jeez, your father is sure a pessimist."
Martha laughed. "He's a realist. That's what I love about him." If her father gave her all those cliche quotes, she wouldn't bother to read them. They knew each other well enough to know what each cared about the most, and being her father, he taught her to be realistic but also hopeful about things. 'Hope is a good thing', her father always said that, even when he lost his job once and they had to go through a pretty hard time. Her father constantly hope for the better times and she always felt that was his strength: to never despair but to continue on with a strong belief that a better life will come.
"Then what did you write for him?"
Martha smirked. "Something more...unconventional."
"As always, you have a morbid taste for quotes."
A lightning sounded outside. I stared out at the gray sky, and I placed my hand on the cold window, watching the raindrops fall.
Do you think, Dad, that if I keep hoping, something inevitable as this would not come?
But then you'll tell me that there's a better moment after this. You always believe that after a storm, the sky will turn blue again.
But I disagree. When a storm comes, especially this one, it destroys something beautiful. No matter how blue the sky is afterwards, my life would never be the same.
It may get better but it won't be the best.
Great thinkers proffered that man is born broken and he spends a lifetime healing. All men share a germinal sense of innocence, but life leads us into our vices. Temptation surrounds us, and we willingly march into the den of iniquity. We rationalize and attempt to justify commission of great sins.
Kilroy J. Oldster
Martha's father raised his eyebrows at the writing his daughter wrote in the paper with fold creases. Then he chuckled. Folding the paper back into a crane carefully, he placed them into a glass bottle on a cabinet.
"As always, you are pessimistic, Martha."
Martha tilted her head, smiling. "Who did I learn it from?"
He laughed. "I certainly taught you to be aware of bad stuff but I didn't expect you to take it to this manner."
"Well, I'm just being extra aware of bad things." Her father shook his head at her response.
"But you know, I believe that people are inherently good, Martha."
"Why so, father?"
He smiled distantly. "Because dear, people never like being bad. They just think that what they do is right. In the end, if you think about it, nobody knows what's right because every action of us may or may not hurt others. We may claim to do right but sometimes to others, it's wrong because it hurts them."
She looked down at her plate of spaghetti. "People can do bad even if they know."
"Definitely. But even so, if you gave them something to be good for, I believe they will."
"Even psychopaths?" She joked.
"Well, that I'm not too sure." Her father's lips curved into a crooked smile. "Psychopaths aren't exactly normal people. There's always exceptions to things, I suppose."
"Then there should be exceptions to my pessimism."
He chuckled louder. "At this rate, people are going to ask how I raised you."
"Just tell them you raised me with paper roses, food and a dash of optimism mixed with realism."
They both smiled, Martha with a wide, cheeky one and her father with a small one. "You just love to retort everything I say."
"My hobby, Dad. Joyce doesn't understand my words like you do."
"Of course. I'm your father. If I don't, then how would I manage to raise you?"
Would you wake up for me, Dad? Let us talk again like we used to. We should go hiking some time again, with your canvas and paints. I suck in painting but at least we could talk while you paint.
I'll bring you anywhere you want. Just tell me and I'll do it. So wake up. Just wake up for me.
But the beeping sound of the monitor keeps reminding me of what's inevitable.
For once, I wish I am deaf.
A glass container filled with paper roses.
A glass container filled with paper cranes.
Today was her father's birthday. When it was either one's birthday, they would bring out these containers of paper origami and reminisce over the things they write in them. In times like this, her father sometimes would ask her about the things she wrote in them and why she chose to do it. It sometimes ended up being a deep discussion over life; sometimes Martha didn't remember the reason and they would just have fun musing over why she wrote those quotes.
But her father hadn't brought out the one from the container. He chose to open the one that she gave him this morning. Staring at her father, she bit her lip.
"Martha, you knew."
She twisted her hands together. "Your friend told me without knowing that I didn't."
Her father was silent. She then placed his hands onto his. "You should, Dad. It's a chance of a lifetime."
"It costs a lot, Martha. And I can't borrow money from my friends to do it. There's no guarantee I would win even."
"But you may stand a chance. You haven't tried, right? All your friends admire your paintings and if you win, you could do something you really love as a real job."
He shook his head. "How about you? My boss won't agree to this. If I went, I would risk being fired and there's no guarantee I would be able to find another job. University is in two years and I wouldn't want you to be in debt for that."
Martha could see her father's face being dejected again.
She shrugged. "I could aim for a scholarship, if that's worrying you."
Her father gave her a pointed stare.
She flushed. "I mean, I still have two years. I'm sure I can work hard during that time..."
"Martha, I'm your father. If there is one thing you hate doing, it is studying.
Furthermore, I don't want to stress yourself for something like this. There's no point in pushing yourself to do something that won't bring joy to your life."
Martha looked down. "But still. It's a lifetime of an opportunity. Something like this won't come again."
Her father laughed, with a tiny bit of mirth in it. "Sure, it's a lifetime of an opportunity." He paused. "But it has its price as well and I don't want to pay it, especially when I don't know if it's worth the price. After all, winning that does not mean to me as much as seeing you grow up, Martha. If you get to be happy, I'm happy enough." He ruffled her head. "I'm already a parent. I don't need to be an artist."
"You are already an artist. Just not well-known."
And her father smiled an accepting smile. "And I don't mind being that. Now that we are done with this, let's put it behind us."
They continued unfolding their individual stacks of origami but Martha could not help but wonder if she was holding her father back from who he could be. A seed of guilt grew in her heart and it was years later that made her realize that her father was right: every opportunity presented has a price to pay.
The thing is, are we willing to pay it?
Fly, Dad. Reach the skies with all your might; the skies are the only limit in the world. Go for that competition and win!
You used to say I'm a bird, Dad. A bird that can't be trapped within a cage for I belong to the wide, wide sky. You'll let me fly away from this nest, and you don't want me to ever come back until I've seen the world.
But the world doesn't matter to me as much as your nest had.
I rather have my home back than have the world.
"He hasn't have long to live."
Dad hid his illness for a long time. I wonder if he wanted to buy more time to be the father he could be in front of me. His friends said that he just didn't want to hold me back, that he didn't want to hold me back from going as far as I like.
There's a price to pay for every opportunity.
"Why?" I asked him the night he was sent to the hospital. "Why didn't you tell me anything about this?"
He reached out, almost like he wanted to ruffle my head. "Because I don't want you to be worried." He smiled, not the radiant and accepting one like before, but sickly and terrible version of what it was before. I almost didn't want to acknowledge that this was my father. How could I not see this earlier?
"You wanted to go there so much. You've been awaiting it for so long. I can't hold you back, Martha."
"Still, do you think that I'll go if I know this? You are more important than that event!"
He looked at me, with those knowing eyes, those filled with a grim understanding.
"That's why..." He looked away. "That's why, Martha, I didn't tell you."
There was only one type of love that advocate separation of two people: the love of a parent.
My father is the rose. I'm the crane.
All children are meant to live beyond their parents.
I don't want to live beyond my father. Sometimes I wonder why nature worked in such manner; why take someone we love so early on?
I can fly but I don't want to fly far away.
But my father wants me to. His last origami wasn't a rose but a crane.
And as I open it, I can't help but tear up. I don't know how to imagine a life without my father. He was a man who taught me to be the person I am today. He is the person who I share all my problems, my hopes and dreams. And he is always the one I could fall back on, consult when I don't know which direction to turn next.
I can fly but I'm alone now.
Martha, I am sorry
How he first started this crane and rose exchange was also due to an apology.
I should tell you sooner about my illness. Would you forgive me?
Of course I will. Even if it hurts too much to know that I can never get back lost time.
I love you, Martha. Always know that, dear, that even if I'm no longer here, I'll still be here in these roses. I'll be watching you in the skies.
I lick my lips. It will never be the same as somebody in flesh.
You are my treasure. If there is one person I'm proud of, it will be you. I know you'll go far. I want to see you do so. So go as far as you can. Love as wide as you can. Experience as much as you could. Above all, learn to smile in the face of difficulties. I know this will be hard for you but I believe that you can do it.
I crush the paper.
You are my treasure too.
And now I have left are these leftover roses and memories that make up you.
I can fly but I feel so heavy.
Some losses are inevitable. Life takes the people we love and leave us memories behind to recreate them in our minds. We need memories to make someone dead still alive in this world, but at the same time, we have to reconcile with their death.
Death—the ultimatum we all have to face, and live with.
Can Never Get You into The Present
You doubt me so much,
That I start to doubt myself,
And everything that I could be.
Doubt; such an insidious virus,
Why is that I find
The ones who love you the most,
Sometimes doubt you the most?
But then it's only in my mind all along,
That you love me the way I wanted—
You never saw me,
But the girl who once was foolish.
In your eyes,
In your voice,
I can tell you never thought I was capable
Of being more than what you believed me to be.
Love binds us to the opinions of others,
And sometimes we reenact them,
Because love makes us believe,
Even in the wildest claims of ourselves.
But you were wrong all the time.
I'm more than what you believe me to be.
I'm so much more than what you think.
Because when I see your eyes,
And hear the words repeated from years ago,
The same excuses, the same reasons,
I realized that you lived in the past,
And this person in front of me,
Never moved past who she was,
So the people in her mind,
Never moved past who she thought they would be.
The past is enticing,
Comfortable to stay in—
Maybe for you,
But for me,
It's a nightmare,
That I'm willing to get out.
Maybe because I was close to death,
And staying in the past,
Means that I might really die,
By your words one day.
So I bid you goodbye.
I learn to love you from a distance.
Dear, I love you,
But the past holds you and I have no power to fight it.
So I must leave for my sake, for my life;
But I still hold a part of me
That would see you,
And want to drag you out into the present.
God, love bound you stronger to that past,
More than my love can bound you here.
How could I ever fight somebody you love so much that you are willing to throw your present for the past?
A word of unfolding,
Something that hints of being
Real, being true,
I tangled the lies into my souls,
And now when the truth comes,
All the lies are unraveling from it.
I've lived with lies,
I've worn them like mask—
I learn to be the lies,
And now that they are unraveling,
Now that they are releasing the truth,
Everything in my mind,
And I see you in me; behind my eyes, behind my shadows.
You unravelled once and you didn't want to face reality.
I unravelled now and I don't want to face who I've become.
So I hid myself from my own self—only in the same way you did.
Why am I not surprised?
No Angels on Earth
I wanted once, to tell you
That I was broken
With no strength left
To walk alone,
To continue living on,
While I'm trapped in
This self-made hell.
You used to be my
Symbol of hope,
The light in the tunnel,
That would save me.
I know better—
There's no such things as
Humans with the best heart,
Be the best
For the people