Lydia Miyashita's Journal
The Three I's
Written Feb 24, 2014 9:49amIt is hard to believe that it has been 5 years since Lydia earned her angel wings. Five years ago seems a short time ago, a long time ago, and a lifetime ago...all at the same time. It feels like a short time ago, in that I can still picture Lydia dancing, singing, and smiling, just as if she were here today. It feels a long time ago in that so much has happened since she died. Max has grown and changed so much, and Pooh came into our family. We traveled a lot, and made new memories together, all without her. And it feels like a lifetime ago, in that prior to her diagnosis and eventual death, I was a completely different person and lived a completely different life. In that sense, it might as well have been decades ago. She has now been dead longer than she was with us.I would like to think I have learned a lot about life and death since she died, but in reality, I think the wisdom I have gained is understanding how little I know or will ever know. Part of the wisdom gained after her death is learning to accept life without understanding the why's, and accepting and maybe even enjoying the unsolvable mysteries.If I could sum up what I have learned, I think I would characterize the principles generally as "The Three I's: Interdependence, Instant Gratification and Impermanence." Here is what I mean by each:Interdependence. This term suggests that we are all linked; that no person is an island. We all need each other, and our actions impact other lives in ways, both good and bad, that we can't even begin to imagine or see. When Lydia was sick, people came to our rescue, both literally and spiritually. Our church provided sustenance and faith to us, and friends and family, both far and near, some well known and others only known through cyberspace, lifted us up. When you go through a crisis in life, it is apparent you need others, but realistically, we need each other day in, day out. We need to understand that our lives don't occur in a vaccuum, and that we can impact others by our words, gestures, actions, and faith on a daily basis, either for good or for bad. The choice is ours.Instant Gratification. This term gets to the root of what separates us from what we are called to be and what we think we want. We could really use the words "greed" or "desire" here and they would fit just as well. When we place our wants ahead of our needs and the needs of others, we forget about the first principle of interdependence. We forget that we are linked to people all around the world, and our choices in lifestlye impact people we don't even know. From decisions about the environment and our individual role in that process, to the quest for things and stuff we want at the expense of others, our failure to keep our desires, our wants, in check only leads us away from who we are called to be.Impermanence. This term suggests that life is a constantly changing, constantly evolving process. It is a journey and not a destination. Things never stay the same. In Japanese culture, the cherry blossom is a symbol of effervescence and impermanence. The cherry blossoms bloom brilliantly in the Spring, and then they are gone: a symbol of the changing nature of life, and of the fact that out of death comes new life. As we get older, we find out that life changes and we sometimes mourn the things we experiences in our youth that are no longer a part of our lives, or maybe even no longer a part of society. Buildings are torn down, family members die, and traditions fade away. We can either attempt to resist this part of life or we can choose to embrace it. On a larger scale, we never know what tomorrow may bring, and while we don't need to throw caution to the wind and shout "carpe diem!", we need to try and live in the moment without worry about or attachment to events or things that may or may not happen in the future. If we understand that life is essentially about change, and that we are all changing each and every moment of every day, maybe that understanding can translate into us remembering who and what is really important.Life is not static, nor do we live it alone. We live it as part of a community: our families, our towns, our countries, and ultimately, our world. Lydia succeeded in bringing people of diverse backgrounds together for a common cause: to rejoice and celebrate life, and to understand that we all need each other. Thank you for being on this journey with me. The journey is not over; it has just begun.In peace,Monica, Lydia's mom
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Written Dec 24, 2013 11:27amTwas a few days before Christmas and all through this old house, lots of things were stirring, except thankfully, NOT A MOUSE!
Max, now age 8 and a Santa Claus skeptic, has adjusted to second grade while sometimes making us apoplectic.
He plays the piano, and sings in a choir, and makes his old mum feel quite like a driver for hire.
He earned his yellow belt in karate this year, which makes me hope he has nothing to fear.
Sarah, now 3, is the youngest in preschool. She likes to talk, dance ballet, and hold other kids to school rules.
Monica is teaching at Wayne yet again...Humanities, South East Asia, China and Japan.
She is swimming quite often and has become a yogi to boot, she just wishes that being a yoga teacher meant lots of loot!
Mark works at Smuckers, and helps make the jam (well, not really).
He putters around the garden, and likes to participate in a fitness program.
We added two more kids to our family this year as a cultural booster, as host parents to international students from the College of Wooster.
Three cats and four kids, sure make it all fun. That's why this Christmas card is late getting done.
No great words of wisdom this year. Just the observation that life is nothing that we should fear!
Merry Christmas, and Happy Year of the Horse!
The Miyashita Family
Monica Mark Max and Sarah
The Cats: Grizabella, Daisy, and Agatha
LIFE is the miracle
Written Jul 3, 2013 1:23pmLIFE is the miracle
Today would have been Lydia's 10th birthday. It is so hard to imagine what she would have been like at 10. Five is such a long way from ten where kids are concerned. Thinking of what life would have been, and wondering about all the "what ifs" never really gets you anywhere. Somehow things ended up this way, and the great irony is that even if we could change things, should we or would be? In many ways, it is tempting to think about Lydia never having leukemia, but then I think about how that struggle and journey, changed all of us, including Lydia. Maybe and almost certainly God knew best when He called Lydia home.
For a long time, I struggled with the idea of why Lydia didn't get her miracle. And just recently, I was reminded of that struggle and question when another little girl adopted from China, named Teresa, died due to the complications from a failed heart transplant. Just like in Lydia's case, people from all over the world prayed for this little girl, and the little girl died. Maybe there are folks who have such a strong faith that this kind of outcome doesn't phase them. But it phased me when it happened to Lydia, and I am sure there are those struggling with this outcome for this other little girl as well. What I have concluded is that for all of us, LIFE is really the miracle. If you think about how conception occurs, and all the possible genetic outcomes that could be produced, and about the seriousness and danger involved in childbirth, each one of our lives, each person, is a true miracle. When you factor in other things such as environment, lack of prenatal care, warfare, disease, and a host of other dangers, the fact that we are all here in this moment is a miracle indeed. If you add in the fortune to be born to, or adopted by, parents who love you and provide you a happy, joyful life and stay by your side throughout whatever you encounter in life, that too, is a miracle, because for so, so many, it is not a reality.
None of us know the future. None of us know how we are going to die, or when. Not even tomorrow is really a guarantee. In fact, not even twenty seconds from now is a guarantee. Each moment is a gift. It is so hard to remember this in the hustle and bustle of daily life. I myself struggle to remember this and to focus on what is important. Recently, I decided to make some lifestyle changes in our lives by giving up the legal work I have been doing part time. When I factored in what I have been saying, namely, the preciousness of each moment and the quality of life legal work in particular tends to steal away from one, I decided that the drawbacks far outweighed the benefits to my life and that of my family. I also realized that I was getting back to the point of "busy-ness beyond belief", the state in which I found my life immediately preceding Lydia's cancer diagnosis. I figured I needed to "walk the walk" instead of just "talk the talk" about putting my priorities in order.
I also realized that I was more worried about making sure I used my legal degree than really thinking about whether this type of job is the right fit for my family. It also occurred to me that I need to quit acting out of fear of the future, and place my trust in God to lead me where he wants me to go. Furthermore, I am not the same person I was before Lydia was diagnosed, and trying to go back to the "old me" doesn't really work. I am a forever changed person; hopefully, I am a bit wiser and more attune to what is important.
I am going to focus on doing the things I really love to do: teaching, yoga, spending time with my kids and family, and trying to savour every moment of this miracle we call LIFE. Regardless of whether you are old, young or middle aged, it is never to late to grab on to LIFE and to know that each moment is precious.