Not often do I go back in time to relive something so intensely fierce that it can undo my mental health. Yet I was driven to remember when I found our ten month son missing. We were living in Tokyo at the time; my husband in the military.
Our lodging was in an apartment near the University with a landlady who was a mistress of a Japanese businessman. It was a new apartment, sparse though close to the base, in a Japanese neighborhood.
We were on good terms with the landlady whom we called Oksan. She loved our baby son and yearning to have a child of her own, sat and rocked the carriage in the secluded garden while he slept. She asked to babysit for short periods. I was uneasy with her yearning for a child but relented.
I went to the commissary one day and when I returned Oksan was gone with our son in his carriage. She had not said she was going anywhere only that she would sit. I put away the groceries and waited.
I soon became frantic and went looking for them. I ran like a crazy lady from stall to stall on our street asking everyone if they saw them. They could see I was panicky but why, no one understood.
The students on break at the University understood somewhat though they did not understand the panic. I called my husband at the base and because he was an officer, could come home and brought a man who spoke Japanese. Not understood was my fear. This was after all Oksan and why the panic?
The fact that my baby was gone, in a foreign place, with a someone who wanted him to be hers, did not register. Overreaction they thought.
Sometime later she did return of course. Our son was asleep in his carriage and she had gone visiting. Fortunately, soon after we returned to the U.S. so I did not face the issue again. What brought this memory forward?
One of this week’s immigration policies would be to separate the child from the parent at the border. I am horrified at the thought of the panic in the child and the fear ridden parent seeing the young children taken.
My heart will stop if I linger with this now.
I cannot believe such insensitivity would exist in anyone’s belief system. I cannot fathom a government policy stating this.
I was just 20 years old when this episode happened. For 9 months this child grew beneath my heart and 10 months in my arms. The intensity of my fear and panic I can taste again. I would only say don’t mess with me guys. Eternity is a long time.
How could I not love them?
They grew beneath my heart,
waiting for my heart to beat
so that their’s would continue beating.
Did you not think
I would not know that?
And they would be reason enough
for me to keep breathing?
You did not know me. . .
Like a bear
I would fight for my cubs.
I made them. . . .
They wear my name
and one day they
will remember. . .
who taught them about love.
painting by a local
Japanese artist 1953