The Shadow Of Hope – Thinking Of Japan

I took this photograph two days before the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan with such devastating consequences.

The hillside in Cornwall was brown and lifeless and easy to pass by, but the shadow on the dirt wall drew me in for a closer look. As I scanned the area searching for the origin of shadow bloom, I realized that it was one from last year’s season of growth that had dried in place.

I photographed the dead husk of the flower and the shadow bloom on the wall together as I did, thinking it would be a good to use to herald the coming of spring, but now I find it a more fitting memorial for the Japanese tragedy.

In the middle of so much death and physical destruction it feels overwhelming even to me even from such a distance to see the possibility of life after recovery, and I have to wonder how the people living through it can bear the pain and loss.

I am unsure of the best way to offer support and while I can send money, I want to do more somehow, to offer something other than just an anonymous check, something more like a sympathy card.

While I cannot begin to understand the fear and heartache the people of Japan must be feeling, I do hope that somewhere they can see the memory of new life waiting in the shadows.


Remembering Virginia Tech 4.16.07

Last year on this day, I wrote a memorial post to mark the sad anniversary of the tragedy that occurred during my daughter’s second year as a student at Virginia Tech. The Ways We Remember, Those We Cannot Forget details more from April 16 and the days that followed.

When we moved into April a few weeks ago, I noticed my daughter had changed her profile picture on Facebook from her regular photo to the image below. It is familiar to many associated with Virginia Tech and the one I have seen most often in the three years since the Virginia Tech shootings.

After seeing the change on April 1, I asked her about it when we spoke later that day. I usually switch to the same image on my Facebook profile a few days before the anniversary, but never so early as the beginning of the month and I wondered why she had changed hers so far in advance. Miranda told me in so many words that in the month of April, the anniversary is always at the forefront of her thoughts so she wanted to note the significance for her.

When I hung up the phone, I considered that while most people were celebrating spring and new beginnings, she was remembering the day when so many died. It saddens me to think that this will likely always be a rite of spring for her. I wish there was something I could do to change that, but it is beyond my control as are so many things for parents when children grow into their independent selves.

Miranda is generally pretty quiet when it comes to that day. When people ask about it, she is polite and almost matter of fact. She tends to keep her feelings to herself. I imagine these kids, now adults walking around like war vets in a way … only really discussing that day with people who were there and lived through it too. As a mom who believes in the healing power of conversation it is difficult for me to stand back and wait to give comfort when needed, although I smile as I think, I am always at the ready.

I take comfort in how she chooses to honor the memory of those no longer living with her desire to risk more and live more fully for those who lost that opportunity on 4.16.07. I didn’t know she felt that way until I saw something she had posted on Facebook the other day that suggested that sentiment as a way to remember those who died.

I understand that thought completely as it is something I have tried to do when grieving the loss of friends and family who died too young. It gives me some measure of peace to see that we share a similar idea because I know it has been a source of comfort for me when I could not understand the why of premature death. I cannot think of a better memorial for those lost than a life well lived when searching for ways to honor those we can never forget.