There are not enough words...no words in fact...that I can say or write that can tell you how much my heart is filled with thanks and love. How can I communicate a heart's language that has no words, no sounds? All I can think of to do is hug you and hold you, mom, like you did for me when I was happy, sad, lonely, confused, proud, too busy, too lazy, sick, angry, laughing, impatient, calm. All I can hope for is that you understand through my warmth, love, patience, breath, eyes, stillness how much your life has impacted mine. You taught me while I was in your womb to feel art. You taught me while I was in your womb how to love and expect nothing in return. You taught me while I was in your womb to start my heart and keep my heart beating. You taught me while I was in your womb to be still...listen to the wind...listen to the trees...listen to the ground. You taught me while I was in your womb my body was not a boundary; my body extends down beyond the core of this earth and up beyond the atmosphere. You taught me while I was in your womb my strength has no limit. Although I have spent many years fighting every thing you taught me, fighting my heritage, fighting my language, fighting my culture, fighting, fighting, fighting, I am starting to understand now these lessons. I may never fully understand the wisdom passed down by you and our family, but I know that my body will unconsciously seek these answers. Sometimes, when I get lucky, I only have to look into your eyes to feel your strength, courage, history, love, compassion, sadness, and your eternal energy. I know how much you sacrificed to make sure I walked a path full of possibilities. Although I did not understand at the time, you gave me the strength to push through any obstacle I have faced and will face. I remember, as a baby and a toddler, that you used to take me to work with you when childcare wasn't offered. Feeding me on the subway, subjected to stares and judgement. All for me. To take care of me. Deciding to make our family uproot and leave our comfortable life in Japan to take a chance and come to Portland. You told me that it was for your dance career...and I believed you. I know that was part of the truth, but you came here for me. So I could have more opportunities as a woman. Working so hard that you surpassed all the men at your work. Becoming a trusted advisor. Pushing through the days you received death threats. I don't doubt that you were scared...I am too inside...but like you taught me, you've always pushed through. Can I even call you an activist? To call you an activist is not enough. This fight is in your blood, in the fibers of your muscles, in the nerves going through your entire body. It's the air that you breathe and the ground you walk on. In your thoughts, in your soul. It surrounds you. Whenever I get scared, I think of you. You, mom, give me strength. I wish I had the words to express to you my thanks that give my feelings justice. I hope you understand through my embrace everything we cannot communicate to each other. I hope I make you proud. I hope you feel confident leaving our family name to me. I hope you understand through my eyes the thanks, the strength, the compassion, the love, the courage I owe to you.
Your very proud daughter,