Sunday, February 20, 2011

Like Father, Like Daughter

Saturday, I attended a workshop on social justice at Mercy hospital. One of the speakers was author and activist Loung Ung. She wrote the heartbreaking and beautiful bestselling memoir "First They Killed My Father" about surviving Cambodia's killing fields which not only claimed the lives of her parents and two sisters, but over 2 million Cambodians. As a child, she has known hunger, disease, and death for three terrible years. As she spoke, I was drawn to her story and the heartbreaking details of life in the killing fields. Her voice shook with emotion and her almond eyes watered as if she was about to dissolve into a puddle of tears. I can only imagine what it was like to lose her family, but talking and reliving it again and again. She has triumphed over adversities too painful to imagine and she is an internationally recongnized author and activist inspiring a whole new generation of activist like me. I was almost moved to tears and my heart ached for her loss, but our hug and kind words.

Coming home, I saw my dad who's health hasn't been that great snoonizing on the recliner. It has reminded me of Loung's beloved father, who was sadly killed by Khmer Rouge soldiers when she was only seven years old. When her age, I was enjoying my dad's company at the beach or seeing him come home from work with pastries. Now that he's been in and out of hospital's these past few years, I wish I could become six years old again pretending that things are okay. I can't do that. Loung's heartbreak reminds me of a song by Florence + The Machine called "Dog Days Are Over":

Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father.

Run for your children, for your sisters and brothers.
Leave all your love and your longing behind.
You cant carry it with you if you want to survive.

She describes one day when her mother turned her away and told her to get out. Little Loung and her surviving siblings parted ways to escape the killing fields for a fighting chance. A mother's final act of love and despair. I think, in order to get through life, you have to be able to leave your painful past behind. Longings of what could have been and if only will only sink you further into oblivion. I have learned from expereince that any end can be a new beginning and for Loung, facing the lonely road she was able to run for the ones she loved. The miles slipping futher into the sunset, where we meet and comfort each other with kind words.

1 comment:

Euphoria13 said...

I need to read that memoir! And wow, a workshop at Mercy hospital?

This might sound weird but I'm very fond of that hospital...

Wonderful post you've written!