River of Heaven

River of Heaven: Original Songs to a Beloved Myth  I Rewrote for My Mother

It began as a simple healing/release ritual — rewriting my mother’s favorite myth into a short story of hope and empowerment for her after she passed away.

Over time, I began to add songs, eventually sketching an outline of the story as a theatrical piece. This year, I decided, I would finally begin the process of writing the story of my mother’s life I had wanted to write for many years. It never seemed the right time… or maybe I was just never the right time, but I am now.

My mother was born in China around 1926, sold to a Japanese couple by her birth mother and raised as Japanese. In her early 20’s, a cousin verified a haunting suspicion my mother had but could barely acknowledge — that she had actually come from another place where she had two brothers. She dismissed these thoughts as remnants of a dream, but discovered through her cousin they were memories of her time in China. The memories may have been hazy, but the trauma of being rejected as a very young child by her mother embedded themselves as scars within her psyche throughout her life in Japan and then the United States.

I think a part of my mother never left the balcony along the Yangtze River, where she waited for her brothers to rescue her. It was an image my mother shared with me time and time again, waiting for them to come, talking to them as the sun set.

River of Heaven and its songs are my gift to her, to the broken heart, the shattered dream. And to the two countries she loved so much, China and Japan. Because of her, I love them both.

May these songs fill you with wonder and hope.

Demian Yumei,
~Miyasan’s Daughter
Keeping the Dream