Friday, May 30, 2014

Tiananmen Square

I have blurry memories of watching the protests in Tiananmen Square on television.  My mom is coded into these memories somehow.  The voices are muffled with age, but I can remember being told what was unfolding on the screen before me.   I understood that history was being made.  And then there is nothing.  It goes blank.  I know now that the nothing marked the Chinese government's crackdown and then their whitewashing campaign.  That kind of stuff works really well on an eight year old American.

It's surprising the break it affords me to look at the big picture and remember what happened in that Square twenty-five years ago in a country so far away.  What a relief it is to step outside myself and to consider what life was like for those students.  It's easy to get caught up in the rat race that life can be when you do it next to so many other people.  The questions I ask myself seem weighty at times.  Do I have enough children?  Do I have too many children?  Am I teaching them enough?  Am I doing enough?  But when I remember these people I never met, whose lives were so short, the same questions seem so lighthearted and also insulated.

Springtime in Tiananmen Square, 1989 is the article I read yesterday.  So aptly named.  So much can happen while the sun shines down on you.  This June will mark the passing of seven years since my mother was alive.  I don't know if that is a short or a long time.  There are still a few items I have of hers that carry her smell.  I still have a number of the things she gave me over the years.  My watercolors.  An old swimsuit I can't throw away.  And there are things I have that should still be hers.  Her jewelry box.  Her china.  I know that Naomi's "naturally curly hair" was for her alone.  And Verity.  Well, at least she would be trying to pull up all the plantings in Marmie's garden instead of mine.

The years that have passed have brought great and slow change.  It's taken many years to begin to see her again without the backdrop of what took her from us.  It's taken me this many years plus a few more to look forward to seeing her again.  It's all taking a really long time.  Maybe longer than I expected.  Certainly longer that the world allows you.  On my good days I can see how blessed I am.  And on my bad days it goes downhill really fast.  I'm still learning from her and learning about her, I know.  On most occasions when I'm going crazy about one thing or another I know she would tell me not to worry about it.  I'm trying awfully hard not to.   


  1. Thank you for this post. I remember your mom this time of year too and am grateful for having gotten to know her a very little bit. She left a great impression.

  2. Thanks for sharing this beautiful reflection. Time alone doesn't heal, you have done the hard work of working through your grief to be where you are at today. Please help us to know how we can walk with you as you continue on this journey. We love you and honor the memory of your mom with you.

  3. Amen to what both Laurens said. Thank you for writing.