This is dedicated to the students of Tiananmen Square, to every person who had a dream, strived for it and paid a cost so that others may live their dreams — if not now, then some time…a time only faith can see.
But more, I wrote this song for the students who did not fall, for those who survived, who within their precious hearts carry not only the dream but the burden of survivors’ guilt.
I have come to believe that there are some questions that were never meant to be answered, but only met…met with compassion, with empathy and tenderness. That while justice may at times seem like an illusion, the kindness that exists when one hand reaches out to another is very real.
In sharing this song, may you, in some way, feel the touch of my hand upon yours. May the dream that brought you to that appointed time live through you in the way you love. And may we sit in spirit and look to a brighter, more caring future for everyone.
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It’s important to bring your light to the darkness, but it’s also important to remember that you are not a lone candle in the dark but a ray of sunshine in the rising of a new day or moonbeam in an otherwise dark night, and that all the good you feel and the love in your heart is part of something bigger to which you belong. You are not alone.
Tomorrow my youngest, Brhiannon, is going to compete with her home school/cyber school team in the Lego Robotics competition in Philadelphia.
Brhiannon is bright and artistic. She is also dyslexic, and knows she has challenges learning in certain areas as compared to some other students. But she doesn’t care.
She is not as advanced in the math necessary for this particular competition, but it doesn’t stop her. She doesn’t sit out because she’s afraid she’ll look foolish or refuse to take a chance until she is convinced she knows everything she needs to know or has everything lined up. She knows she will eventually learn what she needs to learn, but right now, in this moment she is open to learning what she can and offering what she has to offer as she is, who she is, right now.
It reminds me of when she was taking lyrical dance a couple years back. Every student in that class had years of dance lessons, and most if not all took several classes a week. Brhiannon had only one formal year in one class the year before, and no ballet.
But she did not care.
She was willing to learn what she could, and risk looking awkward next to the other more skilled dancers. Where most of us would not want to put ourselves in that situation, much more sensitive and self conscious how we looked to others, Brhiannon just jumps right in. If she’s interested in something, if she wants to experience something, she just does it.
She doesn’t care about other people’s approval, doesn’t care about what’s cool or not cool, isn’t peer dependent to tell her how she should or shouldn’t behave, and could care less about whether she’s up on the latest trends.
I admire that about her.
I admire her willingness to take risks, to try new things, and most of all, to follow what’s right for her without checking to see if it would be regarded as cool or okay by others.
So while I’m at work tomorrow, I’ll be thinking about my brave little girl, going off to Philadelphia with her teammates without me, on her own, taking a step into the unknown and facing a challenge head on with every intention of doing her best and having a good time.
I really am proud of her, and more, inspired to face some of my challenges with a little more courage…just like her.
I’m not talking about through child abuse. Well, not in the sense we think of. That’s how I lost my childhood, abuse.
But losing our childhood is happening in another way and on a massive scale.
In a few minutes I’ll wake my little girl up. I let her sleep in longer in the mornings, especially in the summer, when we stay up real late. Although we do home school throughout the rest of the year and can be flexible, too.
Actually, referring to a “school year” is really a strange way of looking at life, when we’re not even in an institution that needs to run within that time frame.
Somehow though, the state regulations do make you, at least, aware of the schedule they run by and expect you to adhere to in some capacity. The reasoning is that its to make sure we are accountable and do right by our children, but I am not so sure the Department of Education, itself, is doing right by the children they are supposed to serve.
I’ve been thinking more and more lately about how oppressive our education system is becoming. Even if I did not have my other reasons for homeschooling, this insidious pressure to TEACH TO THE TEST, that all public schools – brick ‘n mortar and cyber – face, under the threat of losing their funding, would, alone, be enough for me to pull my daughter out of school if she was in one, and never let her step foot in one, if she wasn’t.
I went to our school district’s web site. It had a notice on the home page that stated that from now on, educational trips will be granted for a maximum of five days for the year. Anything over that would be counted as unexcused absence.
So if a child had an opportunity to travel to Europe for a couple weeks or go to NASA in Florida for more than five days, that child would be considered truant – even though their educational experience would far exceed anything that could be offered in a classroom setting.
Why? Because that child would not be in school getting drilled in facts that were sure to show up on the yearly state tests. The results of those tests is the school’s report card. Passing scores = receiving funds.
Students are required to provide job security for their teachers and administrators. Can’t let real opportunities for learning get in the way.
Not only are children coerced into spending more time in school – and they’re now talking about extending hours and days – in many schools across the country, they are given fewer opportunities in other disciplines, such as music, art and drama.
Even if scores were raised through these measures, what are we really attaining? It’s like feeding hungry kids junk food, and watching their weight go up. But are they healthy?
Are our kids educationally, intellectually or emotionally healthy? Are our kids learning the skills to be lifelong learners? Are they even learning what they’re learning in school? Is it even retained after the test and if so, for how long? Are we nourishing a child’s natural drive to learn, or have we beaten our kids down so low they have to be convinced, “learning is fun” or “can be fun”, because our experiences through school is that it really sucks, and we’ve all bought that as a given?
I lost my childhood because of a father who was inappropriate and a mother who was in denial. And it just makes me so sad to see a whole generation of children losing their childhood for institutionalized requirements.
I think I’ll wake Brhiannon up now, so we can go outside and play.
He wants the chemo. They’re sending him home, maybe today, at the latest tomorrow. He’s to recuperate while here the rest of this week and weekend. Next week, he’ll see his oncologist and the situation will be assessed then. The plan is to start the R.I.C.E. treatment on him as soon as possible.
It’s amazing the look of peace that came over his face, when he knew he’d still have a chance to fight. He totally understands the risk, but to him, if he has one chance, no matter how small, he wants to take it.
My sister told me when she was battling her cancer, that she had always thought, that there would be a point where if she could no longer live with dignity, as she perceived it back then, and if she became more of a drain on other people’s time and resources, she’d want to quick fighting and gracefully let nature take its course.
She could not understand nor agree with people who hung on for so long, and seemingly futilely…until it happened to her, until it was her life. And suddenly, just one more sunset, just one more moment with her family, one more ice cream cone or beam of sunlight streaming through the window was worth fighting for.
So there’s no hospice for Kenny at this time. There’s the “Bridge Program”, where he will come home with continued medical treatment with the intent toward further treatment and recovery. It’s what he has set in his mind, his goal to accomplish.
There’s no judgment for those who say “enough”. But there’s no judgment for those who refuse to take that path, either.
A disease can take many things away from you. What it should never take away is your right to choose. It’s such a fundamental part of being human. And cancer doesn’t change that.
It is morning. My child is still asleep on this quiet morning. I am thinking of my friend who lies in the hospital.
Six weeks ago, I discovered the passing away of one dear friend. Today I face the task of going into the hospital to tell another dear friend, one whom I have known for over half my life, with whom I had my first two children, his options. I spoke with his oncologist Friday. They are not what he wants.
Nor I. Nor the ones who love him.
And I don’t quite know how to feel at this time. My thoughts are so focused on how he feels, and how I can be there for him.
I did weep after leaving the doctor’s office. Actually, it started in his office. But as I found myself driving down strange streets in a fog, I knew where I had to go. I went straight to our local health store to get some ideas of how to take care of him should he come home for hospice.
They may send him home to die, but I and his family will welcome him home to live and receive whatever gifts each present moment gives to us.
We don’t know everything.
But though I don’t judge everything by what I see, I do not deny everything I see either. And what I see now weighs upon my heart with a sadness. His hands were so cold as I held them last night. I am not blind to that spectre that hangs before us.
Even still, I hold open a space for that which may confound me and everyone else.
He deserves that. I will not withhold hope under the pretense of protecting my own heart from disappointment. Nothing will spare this heart from splitting in two when he leaves. So I will not hold back anything I can offer now.
I don’t know what he will do, but I do know what I will do. I will be there for him no matter what. I will be there.
Yesterday, Stacey and I were in the studio actually recording! We do that so infrequently these days, but that’s, definitely, changing this year.
The song, The Last Farewell, is based on a poem written by the father of a young student killed in the Tiananmen Square Massacre. The father passed away not too long afterward. I’m not sure of what, but I believe, in part, he must have died of a broken heart.
I’ve had this poem for quite a while and put, what I felt, was the essence of it in lyric form. Originally, I wanted to sing it over a traditional Chinese lullaby, but a melody kept insisting itself upon the phrases, so I acquiesced. We laid down the initial tracks last year and only returned to them now to put in the finishing touches. Stacey will do a tad bit more of his magic arranging and it will be done.