Six months ago the 27th of December 2013, she woke up into reality. The reality that at 37, she was about to start life all over again – on her own. Yes, just almost two years after she lost her son, she was faced yet again with another life changing situation. Something that she thought could potentially happen, but never imagined. Everything was so surreal at that time. Everything seemed to be just a dream, a nightmare in fact. How could this be happening to her? Was the death of her son not enough punishment for her to endure another heartache? How could she possibly get through this? A life without the man she thought she would spend the rest of her life with. And the timing? Oh, couldn’t have been better- thanksgiving, their 16th year anniversary, his birthday, Christmas, New Year, her son’s second year death anniversary, Valentine’s day...all the major holidays in a span of three months- she was alone and she didn’t know what to do. It was too much to take. But she knew she had to do something- something that could turn her life around, up or down. She wasn't sure but at that time she could only think of one thing... to go back to VENICE! And there, she let go of herself and poured her emotions to someone she knew she will never get to meet, hence....
An open letter to what could have been her son, YOSHI (Yossarian).
Tuesday, 24th of Dec 2013
I know this is not the diary that I wanted to bring with me to Venice, but perhaps it’s a good thing as I can continue writing on it. Before I go any further, it’s the eve of Christmas day and I’m at a café in Venice, just at the foot of Rialto bridge. I don’t even know what to write. The last time I was in Venice was over 8 years ago. That was the most memorable trip I’ve ever had and this is why Venice remains one of my favourite cities. How can I forget the moment when the man I have always wanted to spend the rest of my life with finally asked me to marry him? His words were, “of all that inspires me, you are above them all”, and he knelt down on one knee. That moment will always be the most romantic moment in my life. This is regardless of how things have turned out to be. And now I am back in Venice, on my own for reason I am not even sure of. Another life changing situation compelled me to make that drastic decision to come to Venice and spend Christmas here on my own.
And if you allow me to address this to you, Yoshi.
This is Mommy. I know I have not spoken to you this way before, but know that I have always dreamed of you. You are one of my biggest dreams. Daddy has always been the one writing to you. But this time, please allow me. (My bill came so I had to pay and leave Paulaner). I am now sat on a chair, right at the bottom of Rialto bridge, a few feet away from the water. It’s not actually that cold at the moment, so I can perhaps stay here longer. I can hear the water splash against the boat and the concrete. I can also see gondolas, vaporetos, etc. People are going up and down the stairs behind me. I find this so liberating as I have never done this before - to find my little corner with a pen and paper and just writing whatever words come to my mind. I wish I was more poetic and creative though. But never mind. I think what’s important is what’s from the heart.
So as I was telling you before, I have been dreaming to have you and Alessandra Milan in my life. I have been waiting for so long. When Daddy started writing to you, I thought that was the sweetest thing. It is very hard for me to accept the fact that you and Alessandra will now just remain a fantasy. Unfortunately, Daddy and Mommy are going on separate ways even before we even met you. Things didn’t work for us. And as much as I wanted to try and work it out, Daddy’s feelings towards me have changed. He doesn’t love me as your Mommy anymore. But he still loves me, only in a different way. But to be honest with you, I am holding on to that dream that maybe one day, no matter how long it may be, that we will still have you. But then only time and fate can take us there. I want to tell you, Yoshi and your sister Alessandra, that although we didn’t have you, we always have loved you and I still do. You guys are part of Mommy and Daddy’s memories that will be treasured for the rest of our lives. Wherever life may take us, I am glad that even in our fantasies, you came into our lives. I think that’s all that matters.
Now let me tell you about my random Christmas trip to Venice. Yoshi, you know the whole story when Daddy took a sick day off work, went to Tiffany’s, bought an engagement ring and flew to Venice to ask me to marry him, right? That was his “Ku Move”. The night Daddy decided that he couldn’t be with me anymore, the first thing that came to my mind was to go somewhere far and for some reason, I thought of Venice. I know Daddy wants to keep our memories here as they were. I was not expecting to come to Venice to find peace and solace. My plan was to come back here and buy small masks for my wedding give-aways. But never mind.
So, I decided to revisit the place that changed my life forever 8 years ago. Perhaps to test myself if I can accept the painful fact that whatever memory we had in Venice 8 years ago will now remain just a memory - a very sweet and romantic memory indeed. So far, I am doing well. But I have only been here for at least four hours.
When I left home this morning, Daddy and I weren’t talking because of a stupid thing I did yesterday. I only did that because I knew that that would help me find closure - to finally meet Daddy’s friend face to face and speak to her. I only did that because I didn’t really want to judge her just because she got involved with Daddy. I just wanted to basically meet her. Not that I even want anything to do with her. Just to meet her. That is all.
I wasn’t going to come to Venice anymore. I wanted to spend Christmas with Daddy because this may be our last Christmas together. But he said something that really hurt me. So I decided to come anyway. It was so painful saying goodbye to him this morning. There were no words. We didn’t even hug or kiss. But then he came in the car and said sorry. He tried to kiss me but I pushed him away. That was too much to take. But sometimes you just have to accept things no matter how painful they are. It was a very painful journey to the airport. I wanted so badly to call him, but I was afraid he would not talk to me. I finally got the courage when I got to the airport. Part of me wanted to stay to be with him. But the other part wanted to leave- for me because I realized that no matter how much I wanted to stay with him, he no longer can’t. So, this is all about ME now. As much as it hurts me to know that we can’t be that husband and wife anymore, I take solace from the fact that we are still a big part of each other’s lives and that’s the most important thing I guess. But of course, deep in my heart, I am still hoping that one day, it will still be me and him. I know this is now just a wishful thinking, but who knows.
I tried my best to get some sleep on the plane as I haven’t slept for 2 nights, but I couldn’t. I am missing your Daddy so much. I know this is going to be a very long journey but at least it has started.
I wanted to back out when I got to the boarding gate but Daddy gave me his usual encouraging words, so I took the courage to just get in the plane and suck it up.
It took us more or less two hours to get to Venice. Luckily, the storm has passed. There were no flight cancellations. It was misty when we arrived in Venice. I actually came here without any plans. The only thing I prepared for was the map to my hotel. I didn’t even do any research on transport or anything.
When I was going to buy my ticket, there was a man who was talking to himself as he couldn’t figure out which machine to use. But since I knew I had to take Ali Laguna to San Marco, I asked him if he wanted to take the same. His name is Ed and he is also here on his own. Not for the same reason obviously. His partner had to work so she couldn’t come.
The hotel website said it will only take us an hour to San Marco, so I thought that was a good option. But it took us longer than that.
I wasn’t sure how I was feeling at that time. I was and still is tired, hungry but couldn’t eat. One thing I remember though is feeling uneasy on the boat. I wanted to arrive at my destination so I could speak to your Daddy. I could feel a separation anxiety as this would be my first trip to Europe without him. As the boat got closer to San Marco pier, I could feel my heart racing. And when the boat finally stopped at San Marco, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get off. The memory of my arrival to Venice the last time seems to be a blur. Perhaps because we arrived at night and I was with an old friend. I took a deep breath, stood up and walked. And as I got off the boat, my stomach churned and my heart sank. Do I really want to be here? But even if I don’t, I don’t really have a choice. I am already here, so I just have to suck all the emotions up.
First of all, I needed to find my hotel. It was not that hard to find actually. A very nice lady stopped me and offered to help. It was only after a few minutes walk when I found my hotel. The hotel isn’t that big. My room is in the first floor. It is quite big actually. When I entered the room, I felt so lonely. How I wish your Daddy was here. You see, I love him very much that I think of him a lot. I miss him so much. But anyway, since it’s festive season, I asked the guy at the reception what’s going on in town. He said nothing much, but tomorrow there is a kind of a concert in the square. I also asked if there will be a mass at San Marco and he said yes, so I will go there later.
And then my journey began.
My hotel is located in the main shopping district of Venice. Gucci is around the corner, then Pucci. You name it, they’re in the area. First of all, I wanted to buy another journal just in case I run out. And then I took photos as I went along. I don’t think my photos are good though as I don’t have perspective. I was just clicking my camera for the sake of it. I walked around the alleys, stopped and looked at shops. This experience is obviously different. I remember walking along some of the streets with your Daddy the last time we were here. And yes, I have spoken to him. Have I told you I miss him so much? But I think he got into trouble at work because of me. We’ll talk about it when I get back.
It’s now 1620 and it’s getting colder. I also need the loo. I will stop for now, but I promise to write again later. I just want to go to St Mark’s square and see what’s on there.
2003 – I’m back in the hotel. I am a bit tired already. I tried to find something to eat, but I don’t have the appetite. So I just bought your Daddy his favourite chocolate and some water. I still have chocolate in my bag so I might eat that when I get hungry.
St. Mark’s square was awesome tonight. Quite foggy but the ambiance was good. There was a band called “Joy Singers`’ who played Christmas songs. They were very good. I stayed there listening to them for more than two hours.
St. Mark’s square will forever hold a significant place in my heart. In fact, I was quite emotional when I walked through the same spot where your Daddy proposed. The tables and the chairs were there. Of course I took a photo of it. It was quite nice to reminisce that moment actually. How time flies and how quick things changed. Eight years ago, I was in cloud 9 after your Daddy’s proposal. And 8 years later, I stood there staring at those chairs and those tables, trying to come to terms with the painful fact that it’s over between me and him. I could hear that big sigh. At least I still managed to smile. As I walked away, I realized that Venice will always be a special city for me, although my last memory with it which is now, is all about finding my inner strength to cope with the situation of being cheated on, lied to and hurt over and over again. And tonight as I lay on my hotel bed thinking about your Daddy, NO I will not allow him to hurt me anymore. Maybe I finally found my purpose in coming back to Venice. Until tomorrow……
Wednesday, 25th December 2013
I’ve not had much sleep in the last three days. I was woken up by the strong sound of the church bell. It was beautiful. Last night was all about talking to my friends. I spoke to your Daddy and I felt in his voice that he really doesn’t care about me anymore. He has found a new life with someone else. I have accepted that.
I am sat exactly where I sat when daddy proposed to me. The chairs and tables are arranged the same way. Huh, it’s been 8 years. Nothing much has really changed except for the fact that I am sitting here, heart broken. Of course I am, who wouldn’t be? But I really don’t feel that bad. I think I may have finally accepted that we can no longer be together anymore. I will just treasure that romantic moment in my heart forever. This is now the end of the journey that I had with your Daddy. Now, I have to start my own, no matter how hard, painful and long it’s going to be. I know I can make it.
Venice is kinda wet today. It must have rained before I came out. The cold remains tolerable though. I am sat here people-watching. I’ve never actually enjoyed people-watching, until one day I was sat at Starbucks in Covent Garden. I was in deep thoughts as I was so hurt by what Daddy has done to me. Then I was distracted by a couple who stopped and kissed in front of me, and then walked again. Since then, I loved watching people pass by.
Now in Piazza San Marco , there’s quite a few people to watch. An old lady in a red coat just passed by. She is on her own. She has now walked back and forth twice. She looks indecisive or lost perhaps? Now she’s back to the direction where she came from. There are a lot of Chinese tourists today, or maybe they’re Japanese or even Koreans. As what they are well known for, they are taking so much photos, jumping shots and that famous peace sign. Oh, the old lady apparently is not alone. She is now with what it looks like her family. I’ve seen a lot of couples holding hands, too. I am so jealous. But behind that jealousy is a gentle hope that one day, I’ll come back to Venice and make new memories with someone else. I would like to say I’m hoping it would be with your Daddy, but NO. I know there is no more hope in us. When the right one comes along, I’ll surely make new memories in Venice. An old couple just passed by. The old man was looking at me. I smiled at him and he smiled back. Such a nice feeling. I have not spoken to anyone as yet though. I would love to be able to tell my story to a complete stranger. A young couple just passed by holding hands. Ah, young love.
Here comes a group of Chinese/Japanese/Korean tourists. I just realized that I am the only one sat outside in the cold. My capuccino has obviously gone cold and my croissant is no longer crunchy. I only had one bite because I ate at the hotel before I left. An asian woman just smiled at me. Gosh, there is this man who is talking to himself. I can hear a child speaking in Italian. Oh, how I love the sound of the language. You know your Daddy can speak Italian? I fell in love over and over again whenever he spoke in Italian. I was actually planning of learning the language with you. But sadly, that won’t happen anymore.
Guess what? I was trying to get a “selfie” with me writing and a young Italian man came to me and asked if I wanted him to take my photo. Well, he said it in Italian, but I know that’s what he meant. So I said, “yes, please”. How I wish I could show it to you one day. There you go, a couple trying to get a selfie too. Maybe I should get up and offer them. But they look like they’re happy taking selfies.
Wow!Wow!Wow! A lady just took a photo of me writing!! How cool is that? Wow, that was an amazing feeling. She actually knelt down to take a photo and she even thanked me after. The smile on her face was the sweetest. The husband said thank you too. And they both said, “enjoy your holiday”. How cool is that?
I’ve now been sat here for almost an hour. I think I’ll walk around and hear mass at 12. I may come back a little later to tell you more about my day.
2003 – I’m back at the hotel. I didn’t realize that you have to queue to get inside the Basilica. I’m glad I went there half an hour early. I got a good seat at the centre of the church. I must say that the church is smaller than I thought. The other half of it is the museum I think. Wait, did I just notice that the time now is 2003? The same time I stated writing last night? How weird.
So, I sat at the centre, two seats away form the aisle. There was an empty seat on my right. Somehow I remembered your Daddy again. But it wasn’t long until I realized that I was deluded. It was a mystery to me who was going to sit beside me. The mass didn’t start until 15 minutes later so I had time to read what Daddy has written here (the diary). I was not able to read a lot as the mass started. The mass was in Italian but as I know that Catholic masses are more or less the same in any language, I kind of understood what they were saying- not in that way though. Half way through the mass, someone finally came to sit beside me. She is a lady in her 50’s. She was Italian I know as she was singing and praying along. The mass only took an hour. After communion, I noticed that the woman was crying. I thought that maybe she is also going through something right now. I took the courage to speak to her. Luckily, she speaks a little English. She said she was okay. We both stayed to pray after everyone left. And then she left me on my own. I found myself sitting in the middle of St. Mark’s Basilica on my own. You know what, I can’t even remember the last time I went to church and the last time I prayed. That’s why my visit to the church this time is special to me.
Anyway, on my way to light a candle, I saw the lady again. This time I felt that I needed to talk to her. So I asked if she wanted to have coffee with me. Without any hesitation, she said yes. Her name is Analissa. She was born in Venice, but now lives in Liguria. Since she knows Venice a lot more than I do, I asked her to find us a café. We walked quite a distance, but it was a good walk. So, I was with a woman I barely knew. But perhaps I needed to do that. I have never done anything like that before- asking a complete stranger to have coffee with me. She took me to a café a few km from San Marco. Actually it wasn’t that far considering. It’s just that we took the alleys.
She appeared to be a nice lady. She was soft spoken and smiled a lot. And then we started talking. It turned out that we have a common ground- our husbands left us for another woman. Hers happened three years ago. They were married for 6 years, but were together for 12. Seems like fate brought us together. She told me that the reason why she was crying was not because of the husband, but because of her prayer. But she said that the last time she was at the church, she was with her husband. I told her what happened between me and Daddy and why I was in Venice. She said I am a strong woman for coming to Venice alone, on Christmas Day in the situation that I was in. I enjoyed chatting with her. She was very insightful. She actually gave me more courage to be firm on my decision. It turned out that she is a painter and she has her own gallery in Liguria. She does mostly portraits though. She is also a professor at a University. She is a very interesting woman. I can see how strong she is. She sometimes struggled expressing herself in English. Too bad, I don’t speak Italian. But now I have a reason to speak Italian as she has invited me to visit her in Liguria. I will one day. She left me her business card. I will email her as soon as I get back to London. I’m really glad I approached her at the church today. She is a very lovely lady. We talked for two hours. She had to leave because she has dinner with her friends in one of the islands. She walked back to St. Mark’s square with me. We hugged each other tight and said goodbye. After that I made my way to Accademia bridge. It was not far from my hotel. I also dropped by the music museum and there was some exhibit on violins, violas and chelos. Then I made my way to the bridge. I just took a photo of it and then left. Daddy and I walked there too.
And yeah, on my way back, I came across the hotel where my old friend and I stayed last time. That gate Daddy and I wanted to climb because it was closed when we got back. Ah, I was actually surprised when I saw it coz I couldn’t remember the name of the hotel. That’s why I thought the place looked familiar -the square and the gate. Then I saw the name of the hotel – S. Maurizio.
I realized that this after all is not my saddest Chritsmas. Although the fact that I was alone remains sad, how I spent the day made it easier for me. And meeting Analissa was a gift.
So, my decision to come to Venice alone on Chirstmas day wasn’t a mistake at all. I actually enjoyed myself. And there was something about Venice today that gave me the power to make the most difficult decision I have to make. I basically asked your Daddy to leave before I arrive in London. Ah, I won’t even go there. I’ll see when I get back.
I’m really tired now. I need to wake up early tomorrow. I just remembered I haven’t packed. Until tomorrow, my Yoshi.
26 December 2013, Thursday
0740, Hotel Torino, 128
I was awakened by a sudden tug on my chest. And then my alarm went off. I slept better last night, but it was still on and off. I have been having palpitations, and waking up anxious. This last month has been the toughest. I don’t know how I will go through everything when I go back to London, but I know I will. After all, I survived Christmas alone in Venice. That only proves that I can certainly live on my own again.
Anyway, I’m flying back to London at midday today. I don’t know what’s waiting for me at home. I was more confident yesterday than today. But I guess that’s how it’s gong to be like for a while - a rollercoaster of emotions. I told you about the Joy Singers the other night, right? So when I was having a shower this morning, I suddenly heard myself singing True Colors. I remember that the Joy Singers sang that song on Xmas eve. Now it’s my LSS (last song syndrome).
So, my journey to Venice has come to an end. I have just made a brand new memory here with myself, this book and you, Yoshi. It took me a lot of courage and strength to come here by myself, heartbroken, hurt and poor. But hey, it’s worth it. I may not feel beautiful outside right now, but who cares? The most important thing is the new found inner strength that I have. In the last two days, I learned that sometimes you just have to do what you gotta do. Do whatever you think can make you feel better, even if sometimes it turns out wrong and you get hurt.
This Venice trip is my “Ku Move”. I got lost a few times here but I found my way back (of course).
There are more stuff I want to tell you but I need to check out now. It’s raining and windy. I hope the vaporetos are okay. I will write to you again when I get to the airport.
1021am – Marco Polo Airport
I finally saw Venice in water!! I have read about this before and I have always wondered how Venice looks like when it’s flooded. When the guy at the reception saw me coming down the stairs, he said, “Buon Giorno” and something else in Italian. I smiled at him and said Buon Giorno back. Then I looked outside and those cardboards that I have seen in the middle of the streets in the last two days were up. Then I realized what they were for. I asked the guy if it was raining and he said, “No, it’s snowing”. I was like, “are you serious?”. He laughed and said, “it’s flood Senorina”. Ah, it was nice being called Senorina. I just remembered one thing. You know in our travels before Daddy and I leave our hotel room, we check everything to make sure we haven’t forgotten anything and then Daddy will sometimes kiss his hand and touch the wall and say goodbye to the room? That made me feel sad because I will miss those moments. He is really cute when he does that. He is very funny.
Going back to my journey to the airport. Yeah, so when I got out of the hotel there was flood on the street. I had to jump at least a foot with my trolley on hand so I could get on those plywoods. The streets were very quiet. It was already almost 0830 and there were no people around. I took photos of how it looks like in the morning. I could see it is high tide. The square close to the hotel turned into a swimming pool. And then the street I waked on the other day from the pier was flooded and there were no plywoods. So I had to go back and walked through Piazza San Marco, which was a very good idea because I saw the square in water. The square looks a bit sad, but still beautiful . The chairs from the restaurants were all stacked up. There were only a handful of people walking on the side in their rain boots. You know what? If only I had my rain boots with me, I would have gone in the middle of Piazza San Marco and played in the water. That would have been an amazing experience, isn’t it? Next time….
Have I told you that I love walking in heels? Somehow it gives me a boost of confidence when I walk. I could hear the sound of my heels echoing as I walked by the shops in San Marco. Of course it also reminded me of when Daddy and I were walking. He was telling me that it seemed like there was a horse because of the sound of my heels at the time. Ah, memories. So many of them. How could I ever forget those memories?
By the time I got to the pier, it was almost 0830 and the Alilaguna boat was already leaving. The guy saw me and asked the captain to move the boat back so they could take me. At least that’s how I understood it because they actually had to put the wood back between the boat and the pier so I could get in. I think I overused the word “Grazie” on this trip. I wish I could speak Italian more. I’ll work on that, promise.
The water was kinda still. I was expecting big waves, but there wasn’t. I chose to sit at the back of the boat because there was more space. All of a sudden, I felt lonely and tears started running down on my face. I don’t know. I have been strong and up until last night, I was looking forward to going back to London. But now I am not sure anymore. It is very, very painful. How I wish your Daddy’s feelings towards me never changed. I was reading his notes on this book and I learned so much. There were uncertainties along the way, but he was in love with me. How I wish he could have been more honest so we could have done something about it. I love him very very much and I will love him for the rest of my life. I’m not sure if I could ever love this much ever again. Time can only tell.
It’s an hour before my flight. I don’t know what I am going home to. I am feeling so lonely. But this trip to Venice made me realize a few things about myself. That I am brave, courageous, honest, graceful and I am an amazing woman!
After this trip, I promise to love myself more. I just need to pick up the pieces and start over again. My heart is broken, yes. But I’d like to believe that the person in me is NOT. I want to come out of this horrible situation WHOLE. I don’t even know what that means but I don’t want to lose myself. I love the girl that your Daddy fell in love with. The girl that everyone I know loves. I just need to improve some important things about being a wife I suppose so that this won’t happen ever again. I thought I was a good wife, but maybe not after all because your Daddy wouldn’t have left me, right? But it’s never too late to be a better wife for whoever may come along. In the two hours that I was talking to a stranger that was Analissa, I learned so much from her. I may not have written them all to you, but I’ll surely remember them.
This chapter in my life is now closed. Thank you Yoshi for listening to mommy. How I wish I have met you. But nevertheless, you were my son, our son. I love you and Daddy so so much. Until then…….. GOODBYE.
Of course none of these is relevant now. She has completely moved on from him and she is in a better place now. But oh boy, how she fought hard to keep her man! She well did, believe me. But soon enough she realized that she couldn’t really fight for what she no longer had. And that’s the only reason why she gave up the fight.
She realized that heartbreak could only either break you or make you. She could have easily stuck up with him to cover up the humiliation, to live up with other people's expectations and to pretend to live a life close to perfection. She could have easily self-destructed. She could have gone out there and drunk to oblivion. She could have been that Monica in “The Legal Wife”. But no, she chose to fight in silence. She chose to be that bigger person who couldn't be broken. She got through this and she knew that she was not the one to blame. And she will continue her journey with a pure heart, knowing that she didn't hurt anyone.
And despite what he has done to her, she easily forgave him. No matter how much she tries to hate him for what he has done to her, she can't. She can only thank him for everything that he has taught her. She has no regrets. And all there is now are lessons learned and still to be learned.
Yes, she still has a lot to give. And one thing is for sure, she is not giving up on love. As one of her friends has told her, “while you are going through all this, someone out there is also being prepared for you”. One day when the right time comes, she will meet that guy in light blue shirt who will love her the way she deserves to be loved. That guy in light blue shirt who will take care of her and will never hurt her. That guy who will give her all the time, attention and affection that she was denied for a very long time. The guy in light blue shirt who will love her for who and what she is. That guy in light blue shirt who will never leave her. And when that guy in light blue shirt comes, she will just know because they will hit it off. It will be effortless. And she will be the happiest girl in the world. After all, she deserves to be happy.
The reason why she decided to share her story with you is to hopefully inspire you and to basically tell you that you can be that amazing person in the midst of adversity. That there is no point in destroying yourself or worse your whole life for anyone who is not worth it. For no one who has hurt you is ever worth your time, your love, your attention and especially your life.
And at the end of it all, it’s not about how you have let people down. It’s not about not meeting other people's expectations. It’s not about not having a perfect life. It’s not about what other people think of your failure and of you. It is not about how you fall. IT IS all about how you picked up yourself, held your head up high, let go, moved on and how you fought your battle with dignity and grace. There is nothing better in this world than to come out of that deep sh*t with pride because you know you didn't lose yourself and that you are WHOLE.
In every battle, it is all about that person who came out of it. It is all about you.
And this is her story.