We Don’t Say “I Love You”

IMG_7560Some nights waves of nostalgia hit me.  I’ve been thinking about food and the meaning of food quite a bit lately, and it reminded me of an old blog post I wrote, 4 years ago…
March 15, 2012

Scooping out the rice from the rice cooker, the fresh jasmine aroma overwhelmed me with memories of my family…

~ ~ ~

“What did you eat today, koun (daughter)?” Mak asked over the phone.   Continue reading

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Healing Scars

Growing up in America,
oblivious, naive I was…
The Killing Fields
it’s just a movie, right?

So I imagined.

Grueling 16 hour workdays,
daunting ESL classes,
who has time to grieve?
Oh, the plight of my refugee parents…!

So I ached for them.

Starving in a labor camp,
crying in upset skies, and
imprisoned by the Khmer Rouge,
my parent’s memories, too horrific… Continue reading

Upset Skies

photo courtesy of http://ethancrowley.com

“Do you know what we call this sky?” Mak asked, glancing up. Her hands clasped the steering wheel.

I peered through the windshield. Low lying storm clouds hovered above us, against a dark gray sky.

“During the Khmer Rouge, we called it, Maig Bee Bak Jet. Upset skies…”

“Why, Mak?” I turned towards the driver seat to look at my mom.

She bit her lip, paused for a moment. Then, her eyes began to water.

“Because during the Khmer Rouge, only when the sky looked like this- with dark clouds like it’s going to rain, that is the only time when I was free to cry.”

Her grief unleashed quiet, painful tears from the corner of her eyes.

Continue reading

When You Mourn, I Mourn Too

Everything was pink.

Pink roses highlighted a heart shaped bouquet. Pink suit, the last outfit she’d wear. Pink ribbons pinned to suit pockets, to remember her battle with cancer.

We sat in silence, our hearts heavy.

Her husband cleared his throat, then spoke in Khmer. “When I first met my wife, I saw her disabled leg. I knew she felt embarrassed by it, but I looked at her, thinking, ‘her…that’s her, that’s my soon to be wife.’ Although her leg was disabled, her heart was not. Her heart was beautiful…”

During the war, all I remember was running away from the guns,” my friend sobbed. “I was told the story by my family member that I was only 2 yrs old and my sister was 12 yrs old.

Continue reading

It’s a Good Calling, then…

One panel featured during the "More Than a Number" Exhibit featuring the stories of Cambodian Genocide Survivors. 2012.

The “More Than a Number” Exhibit featuring the testimonies of Cambodian Genocide Survivors. 2012.

“We live in a world where bad stories are told,
stories that teach us life doesn’t mean anything
and that humanity has no great purpose.

It’s a good calling, then, to speak a better story.
How brightly a better story shines.
How easily the world looks to it in wonder.
How grateful we are to hear these stories,
and how happy it makes us to repeat them.”

― Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life

Don’t Abandon the Winding Road

Northeast Cambodia. (Photo courtesy of http://ethancrowley.com)

A few weeks ago.

“Hello?” I had missed Ba’s first call. Maybe it was urgent.

Koun (daughter). My ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) just shocked me.”

I gasped. “WHAT?!”

With a new diagnosis of heart failure, Ba recently received a ICD/pacemaker device. It was programmed to shock if he had a life threatening rhythm, or if it was too fast.

“I was jogging, felt a headache, and suddenly, I was on the ground… there was only a small amount of bleeding on my face and leg…”

“AGH! You fell and you hit your head?! Ba, you are on blood thinners, YOU NEED TO CALL 911!!”

Continue reading