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Michelle Motoyoshi

Michelle Motoyoshi
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California,
Birthday
March 22
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I don't know anything about this blogger business. I'm just a concerned nobody with something to say and access to the internet -- What? That's what a blogger is? Oh...

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DECEMBER 17, 2009 10:31PM

Musing on Life and Loss - a note to my daughter

Rate: 25 Flag

My Dearest Kimiko,

Here is another great truth of life, one that I hope you come to grips with sooner rather than later, for the sooner you accept this profound truth, the sooner you will find inner peace (or at least a relative dearth of angst, which for most intents and purposes is about the same thing).  That great truth?

Life sucks. 

Not all the time, not to the bone.  But it sucks hard and it sucks often. 

When I say life “sucks,” I’m not referring to the string of bummers one is likely to experience in any given week, like “Oh, this hangnail is ouchie,” or “What? We’re out of mustard?” or “Crap! I forgot to pick up Junior after his soccer game!”  No, no, I’m talking about things for which “sucks” is a gross understatement, things for which there are no adequate words or appropriate actions, things that take a chunk out of your soul and leave a gaping, always aching wound inside you that even after decades of healing-time remains a bottomless reservoir of tears.  I mean that “sucks.”

You had your first brief exposure to this sort of thing just the other day.  One of your friends didn’t come to our annual cookie decorating party.  After the party, you asked me why he didn’t come.  I had known for a while why he didn’t show. Earlier, I had received a text from his mom, a friend of mine.  She had given birth to her baby girl, and that baby girl had died.

The baby’s passing was not unexpected.  My friend knew from her amnio results that the child would likely not make it to full term, and even if she did, would not live long after birth.  But the promise of life is ardently held and grudgingly surrendered.  And it is never forgotten.

I had to ponder for a moment whether I would tell you the brutal, naked truth or a truth dressed in soft sentiments and frilly, useless euphemisms, or maybe not even tell you the truth at all --you know, find a smooth, pretty lie to paint over the black blotch that life had just smeared across its canvas.  In other words, I had to decide whether to shelter you from or expose you to life’s dark, bitter side.

“Jared didn’t come because, you know the baby his mom was carrying?  Well, she had that baby, but the baby died.” I decided to expose. 

I watched your face closely, watched it morph from one emotion to another as your child mind grappled with that hard, jagged fact.  Finally, your expression settled upon one.

“That’s sad,” you said.

“It is,” I replied. And we said nothing more.

Loss happens and that makes us sad.  But that is not what makes life suck. What makes life suck is that there is nothing we can do to stop loss from happening.  You could spend your whole life searching for that magical, foolproof something that will protect you from it.  You could be the kindest, smartest, most generous person.  You could follow your religion to the letter. You could eat right and exercise in earnest. You could do all of the above.  Loss will still find you.  And it will kick your butt.

The religious will offer you God and heaven to blunt loss’ merciless edge, to make sense of what is ultimately senseless.  I don’t blame them; it’s a comforting notion. But as you’ve probably already figured out even at your young age, your mother is not one to hand out easy answers or peddle platitudes, no matter how finely crafted they are. I can’t in good conscience reassure you with promises from deities I don’t believe in myself.  However, I can give you this one, brave truth:

Life does suck, but I know with unequivocal certainty that it can be a warm, wonderful, miraculous thing, too. How do I know? Because, my sweet Boo, life gave me you. 

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Damn, that was beautiful. Now I want you to adopt ME so I can apply that letter to MY life :-)
Well done. Great mothering, great writing.
I enjoyed this piece. Reminded me of Peck's opening sentence in The Road Less Traveled "Life is hard."
Wonderful grand post. Fine writing.
Great letter to your daughter...I guess I would say, life sometimes sucks...my daughter is 21 now and she has always had a sunnier disposition than me...I'm grateful for her sunny view...

Here is my favorite part:

"I watched your face closely, watched it morph from one emotion to another as your child mind grappled with that hard, jagged fact. Finally, your expression settled upon one.
“That’s sad,” you said.
“It is,” I replied. And we said nothing more."

Being honest with children is important...your daughter will grow appreciating how genuine and loving you are with her.
The great truth is one that I wish I had accepted a long time ago. It would have saved me from a great deal of heartache.

There are a couple of provisos that I would add.

It often seems to each of us that only our own life sucks. But, that's only because most people don't share everything that happens to them that sucks. So, if you think that others don't have such a bad life, that's only because you usually don't know enough about others to appreciate how bad things are with others.

The main thing that sucks in everyone's life is that none of your dreams will come true. One by one, they'll all turn to dust. At some point, you'll realize that, like 99% of people, you will have lived and died and there will not be much to show for it.

One thing I'd recommend to everyone is to use extreme care in picking whom you're going to marry. If you get the right person, that person will help you deal with everything in your own life that sucks. And you can return the favor and help him or her. One thing for sure, don't trust your own ability to know and evaluate someone as a good marriage partner. Ask around -- particularly roommates and friends who may know the person's warts but for whom it doesn't matter because they aren't married to him or her.

The worst thing that can happen is when you make a bad choice and being in a bad marriage is the main part of your life that sucks. And, if you don't figure it out until after there are children, not even divorce can relieve you of the pain.

And, in case I've added to the "suckiness" of anyone's life today, I am sorry about that.
I liked the story and the writing. Straightforward and albeit shadowed it was positive. Antidote to suckiness is gratitude and giving to others.
"But the promise of life is ardently held and grudgingly surrendered. "

This is such a beautiful post, but it was that line that brought tears to my eyes.
That was beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

I've been mulling over thoughts of my own on this topic. One of the things I've been wondering is whether it's better to have an easy life where things are provided and everything lines up or one with significant challenges like the one Steve mentions. You know the old platitude (sorry), that which does not kill us makes us stronger. Sometimes I wonder how strong I need to be?

Then I think that really we are just like the creature in the jungle that will eventually be eaten by its predator, only our jungle looks a lot different, yet the consequences might be similar.

I agree with the comment about choosing wisely when it comes to a mate. Picking the wrong one and having kids with her/him can be a very long torturous 'challenge.' One day I might have to write a blog about my lessons in choosing.
Beautiful and real. Life is difficult and if we don't acknowledge that and equip our children with the tools to understand this and be prepared for it, we give them a disservice. Excellent writing.
You made me think about those who believe more in The Power of Positive Thinking than reality. Positive Thinking is dangerous. It is delusionary. It makes people see soldiers planting grass rather than killing someone; politicians as saints rather than flawed human beings; preachers as gods rather than opportunists. I applaud your sense of reality.
I too was reminded of the magical thinkers. Nothing wrong with having a good attitude but blaming illness on being negative pisses me off. Little three year old kids don't get brain tumors and die because they weren't "positive" enough.

Beautiful post.
My father said, my whole life, "life is real, life is earnest, life is hard." I used to roll my eyes and dismiss him as a curmudgeon, but it turns out that he's right; if we accept that and stop running around trying to make everything perfect there is peace to be had, and real magic in the world. Your daughter is a lucky kid.
my brother has had schizophrenia for over half a decade and my dad just found he has cancer. and your friend suffered a miscarriage. nice post overall, & agree with the msg, but something seems just slightly off on your tone.
life can be so random in both good ways and bad, but usually more bad than good. You just never know when a meteor is going to land on your house.
Beautiful, melancholy post!
So sweet. Very nice writing. Thank you for sharing.

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lovely job of writing and mothering. it makes me miss my cait even more tonite. (r)
Yes mam it is really true, my life too sucks, bad things happen to me all the time! you wont believe that if a bad things appear then come in whole sale stock!
My nephew when he was born has was in a very critical condition, after many heart operations he is now well thank god ! but his parents had to suffer a lot, we can only pray to god for those things may not occur ! amen !
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beautiful beautiful writing. not a single wasted word.
Nice article. I think the author has done a great job. Thumbs up

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Awesome motherly love for her child.
An awesome motherly story for her child.
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Great work, the responsibility of a mother and daughter are really tough.
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