Tags: grief

word can help write your suicide note

I shall look up so my tears don't fall: Sukiyaki and Japan Airlines Flight 123.

Ue o muite arukō is a song you probably have heard a lot of times as covers, usually named "Sukiyaki" in English-speaking countries. It's the one that usually begins as "It's all because of you / I'm feeling sad and blue."

The original song was performed by a Japanese singer named Kyu Sakamoto and was a hit in his native country in 1961 before also hitting number one in the United States in 1963.

It is in fact the only completely Japanese language song to top the American charts to date.

The song was first loosely translated into English by A Touch of Honey in 1981, and most recently by 4PM in 1995, and by a myriad of artists ranging from Bob Dylan to Snoop Dogg have covered or sampled it in between. There is even a Spanish version by Hispanic diva Selena. Several versions have topped the charts worldwide at various different times.

The translation is very loose: ..."A Taste of Honey's Janice Marie Johnson is quoted as saying that when she translated the original Japanese lyrics into English, she found out that the lyrics could be interpreted in three ways: as a man on his way to his execution, as someone trying to be optimistic despite life's trials, or as the story of an ended love affair. "Me being the hopeless romantic that I am," she explained, "I decided to write about a love gone bad." Thus, the English version featured lyrics like: "In reality/You and I will never be/'Cause you took your love away from me." (Wikipedia article)

However, the original song and title translate more accurately as:

"I shall look up / so my tears don't fall."

The verses of the song go on to describe him doing this through the seasons of the year.

On August 12, 1985, Kyu Sakamoto, the original singer of this haunting song, boarded Japan Airlines Flight 123. Twelve minutes into the flight, the vertical stabilizer (the tail) literally fell off the aircraft, a Boeing 747 jumbo jet with 519 passengers and 15 cabin crew.

While this is in itself a fatal wound, as a plane without a tail is nearly uncontrollable, the tail also ripped off all four hydraulic systems, meaning the pilots had no surface control systems (flaps, slats, all those flappy things on the wings) of any kind. The massive aircraft began porpoising, flipping up and down randomly, in what is called a Phugoid cycle, typical behavior for a paralyzed plane in the air.

For the next thirty two minutes of sheer unimaginable terror for everyone on board, the pilots bravely struggled to keep the crippled aircraft in the air using what little control they had, which came in the form of innovatively manipulating the engine thrust. But it was still clearly hopeless. With no tail, no hydraulics and control surfaces at all, the aircraft was simply doomed. It was just a matter of time.

The passengers began writing farewell notes to their loved ones. Kyu Sakamoto wrote a letter to his wife.

Some had no access to writing instruments and cut themselves to write their farewell notes in their own blood.

At six minutes past seven pm, the giant aircraft plunged through dark skies towards a remote, mountainous area near a quiet village named Ueno in Japan.

It slammed into a mountain, flipped over once, and came to rest upside down in flames.

The screams and moans of survivors amidst the wreckage slowly quietened one by one as the hours of the night bled by slowly and help did not come.

Hampered by the remote location and terrain, rescue teams arrived over twelve hours after the crash. They found only four survivors.

Japan Airlines Flight 123 still stands as the worst air disaster involving a single aircraft. 520 passengers perished.

The ensuing investigtion into the cause of the crash revealed a rushed maintenance job by the ground crew. Their failure to follow procedure to Boeing's instructions perfectly had caused the rear bulkhead to weaken and fail in flight, bursting open and tearing the tail off, which also severed all hydraulic lines in the process.

In the aftermath, Japan Air's passengers dropped by a third. Its president resigned, and one of the ground crew maintenance managers committed suicide as an "apology" to the victims and their grieving loved ones. Without admitting liability, JAL paid 780 million yen to the families of the victims of Flight 123.

Among the many grieving families were Catherine Bayly of England and her unborn child. Her husband was a banker named Akihisa Yukawa. One month after the crash, Catherine Bayly gave birth to Diana Yukawa.

At the age of 5, Diana mastered the violin, clearly a musical prodigy.

At a memorial service for Flight 123 victims, young Diana performed "Sukiyaki" on her violin in memory of her father whom she never got to know. She also played another piece, Elegy, that was composed by a man whose wife and child perished in the crash.

The performance made her a media sensation for her phenomenal talent and led to her eventual success while still a teenager.

Shortly before the Japanese release of her CD, she returned to the site of the crash with her violin for another performance of Sukiyaki, as a gift and message to her father.


YouTube of the original Sukiyaki song, Ue o muite arukō, by Kyu Sakamoto, 1963.

YouTube of the popular cover, Sukiyaki, by 4 PM, 1995.

"The anniversary happens to fall during the holiday of Obon, when the souls of the dead are said to return home. Crowds of mourners scale this mountain on this day every year to remember the disaster. They all fall silent as Diana Yukawa, 15, picks up her violin. She shuts her eyes and plays a tune by the singer Kyu Sakamoto, who also died in the crash. The song topped charts around the world in 1963 (in the U.S., it was called Sukiyaki) and is popular again in Japan thanks to the plaintive rendition Diana plays in sold-out concerts and on a best-selling debut CD, which is dedicated to her father and other victims of the crash. When she finishes, she walks calmly into a log cabin and bursts into tears." - Time article.
word can help write your suicide note

(no subject)

Just got back from a friend's wedding.  It was all really wonderful and all, especially since this wasn't one of those obnoxious uber-expensive lavish fucking-show-off weddings where the debt of a small nation is blown in one exhausting day, when most or all of that money could go into the, you know, living the rest of your lives together thing.  Like buying a house or something.  But what do I know about money, I'm crap at managing it myself.

They were friends of mine and it was all wonderful and sweet, but weddings generally are agony for me.  Sitting there dressed up formal pretending to be normal (hey that rhymes), and mainly, pretending even harder that I'm not seething and boiling inside, like a washing machine with complex ugly emotions all mixing together in a spin cycle.

I think about how wonderful this is for the couple and how happy everyone is for them (including me), and what they have.  And I do a pretty good job of pretending I'm thinking anything else other than the same tired old thoughts that will never go anywhere.  Of those same old questions with no answers.  The silence from God proving He doesn't care anymore. 

Wondering, ultimately, what specific magic quality made me different from all these other happy Christians whose lives turned out so perfect.  I watch my friends walk down the aisle and exchange vows and remember that once a long time ago I was almost just like them.  I prayed to, worshipped, believed in, followed and passionately loved the same God all my friends did.  I "did" all the same things.  I had the same big dreams and plans and hopes, and most of them even involved serving God and not myself.

But apparently I failed along the way, I screwed up.  Got something wrong, most probably failed some big test.  Went down the wrong way without even knowing it, all the while still hoping and trusting in God.  All my friends have been and still are all falling in love and getting married and heading towards purpose-filled, shining futures, one after the other.  But I guess I'm different and special or something. 

Me?  I fell in love, really, really fell in love.  Wanted to get married, have babies, be a dad and husband, I was all for it, could see it happen.  I had never been more sure of anything in my life. 

But something went wrong.  We didn't get married, and I ended up working for a church on the other side of the world, being abused by the most evil human beings I've ever met who call themselves Christians, mocked daily for everything I am and am not.  I'd cry out to God every day and my prayers would bounce off a solid black sky.  I realized God was getting tired of my whining and moaning, so I decided not to bother Him with my trivial human misery.  The only thing that gave me comfort in this time was the idea that I could escape this hell by committing suicide.  I'd get through each horrible day fantasizing of that wonderful moment, plan it out.  It was the only thing that kept me sane. 

Then that girl I was still in love with and still wanted to marry, even after all these years, I couldn't get over her.  So I tracked her down, against all hope, figuring I'd at least know for sure and be able to finally stop wondering.  I figured the worst thing that could have happened is that she could have gotten married to someone else, right?


Apparently she lost control of her mom's SUV on the way to work.  It flipped.  It then fell down a sharp incline, landing on its roof.  She died instantly. 

It happened a year prior, and I found out through one of her friends' myspace page.

For the next week I was not in any real functioning state.  I would have certainly killed myself as soon as possible, were it not for me calling one of my best friends and him taking care of me for a few days, helping me jump start the process of pretending to continue to live.

That was a year ago.

As I am still finding out since, a lot of other things died along with her.  Ever since I moved to India, my passion for my art has plummeted and run cold.  After I realized she was gone, whatever art was in me died permanently too.  Strangely I don't even care.  More significantly my passion for God died too.  And in an increasing number of ways, God himself, for all intents and purposes.  Or maybe I'm the one who's dead to God.  Again, it's interesting how little I care.

Every now and again something else happens that helps another part of me die too.  Every time I attend a wedding, the triggered thoughts and emotions that come out make me feel like my life spent serving and loving God was some childish, naiive dream that I am now waking up from.  And I wish I could go back to sleep and keep dreaming but I know that won't happen. 

I'm alive.

She's dead.

My art's dead.

And God either doesn't care or doesn't exist.

Our honeymoon's very much over.  The love has run cold, gone sour, and is evaporating to dust as though it never existed.  I was once His special one, the apple of His eye, but apparently I wasn't perfect enough.  I didn't pass the tests He set up for me.  Couldn't perform well enough.  And soon there are so many others who are apparently doing it better than I am, who deserve His lavish attention and favor more than I.  Maybe God finally got tired of waiting for me to get perfect enough for Him.

And actually, I agree.  I see no reason to pretend things are still the same when they couldn't be more unimaginably different.  I'm starting to see that more and more of my faith and hope in God were based on bad doctrine and faulty logic at best, and sick emotional manipulation, guilt, dogma, and blatant lies at worst.  And I feel sick, betrayed, and countless, multiple, shades of what looks like a mix of grief, anger and heartbreak.  And I've been wondering why "intimacy with God" has been ridiculously, stomach-churningly, nauseatingly terrifying all these years. 

Not that God's one to apologize or anything. 

Not that this is even His fault to begin with.

This afternoon when I was trying to sleep all of this was churning around in my head and I finally understood how married couples end up divorcing, coolly calling it "irreconcilable differences" when barely a few years prior, they were once so completely in love.  And you wonder if they were the same people. 

So God's not exactly going to apologize or explain anything and I'd be foolish to expect it.  I'm not going to pretend and fake like I love God when after all that has happened, that's become impossible (not like I haven't tried).  It's like a stalemate.  Except this stalemate ends with one player throwing the other player into Hell for not being able to win his impossible game.

Irreconcilable differences.  How apt. 
missing man formation

a late p.s.

Also, when I said:

"People who have never experienced shit like this will have no idea how much stupid little things like this fucking hurt, and shouldn't even pretend to understand."

...in this post here, what I really meant was that I never thought it was possible to hurt that way.  I didn't ever think that reading a coincidental name in some random file at work could trigger such powerful emotions over someone I last saw and had any contact with over six years ago.  I didn't mean it could apply to anyone who would have been able to read that entry and figured that was self explanatory.  I'm sorry if any one of you precious friends thought I was saying that, but I wasn't.  <3

missing man formation

(no subject)

So here I was (er, am) at work, proofreading various files, letters and reports for our various clients, and amongst all this the name "Amanda Santiago" pops up.

That's the name she would have had if we actually got married, instead of so easily giving up on what we both wanted so badly, her out of fear of her parents, me out of the idea that it was "God's will." 

People told me that if it was meant to be / if it was "God's will," that we'd end up together.  People told me that all things work for good for those that love God.

I came to India and slowly lost my passion for art, which was the only thing I was ever good at.  She flipped her SUV off an embankment and died.  Yes, things worked out splendidly.  Happily ever after, etcetera.

I wonder if the day will ever come when I will no longer endlessly wonder about, and torture myself over, what could have been.  If only this, if only that.  I wonder how I'm supposed to cope with being unable to create art ever again.

More importantly, I wonder if I will ever be able to trust and/or love God ever again.  Or if I even want to. 

At least we can assume God's happy. 

People who have never experienced shit like this will have no idea how much stupid little things like this fucking hurt, and shouldn't even pretend to understand. 

word can help write your suicide note

(no subject)

i guess i'm just really, really, really angry and i don't know what to do with all this anger.  i don't know where it came from.  i don't like being like this.

had some time to kill before leaving for work so i read a little of a book about the wonders of God, intimacy with God, etc. and it did something to me.  something bad.  i instantly went from a fantastic mood to hurting more than words can describe.

so right at the start of my shift tonight at work, i basically blew up and totally lost it.  i screamed stuff that would make sailors blush, at not one but two teamleaders.  i don't even remember how it happened or why, i just remember how angry i got.  i could and should be fired for the whole mess.  it wasnt even for any good bloody reason.  i just got angry, then angrier and angrier and angrier....

later my coworkers took me outside to cool  me down and talk reason into me, and all i could think of was that i was looking at them was that they have loving wives and kids, family, someone to come home to, and i'll probably never have that.  people with meaningful, real lives with reasons to go on living, people who belong somewhere, trying to give me advice as though i'm also one of them when i'm not.

amanda is dead.  i think i have run out of all energy to deal with this, and it's really exhausting pretending i'm okay and hiding it from everyone around me.  it's not like i enjoy not being able to get over this and move on.

maybe my grief is turning into intense, unaddressed anger and rage.  and also, maybe i'm sick and fucking tired of psychoanalyzing myself all the time.

some days i think, there's no point in me being alive one more second, there really isnt.  then other days i think, i'm sure God must have something for me, i mean there has to be more, something beyond this, but i'm so tired of the hurting i can't make myself care any more even if there is.  and it's not like God owes me (or anyone) anything.

i think i'm tired of pretending i'm happy.

i'm also tired of pretending that i'm really not terrified by how much i want to die, while also wishing despirately that i had the guts to actually go through with it.

i can't believe how ashamed i am to even post this.
missing man formation

(no subject)

suddenly, out of the blue i find myself googling her name.  her address.  her town.  this usually happens at work, since i google people's names and addresses and verify zip codes and whatnot on a fairly regular basis as part of the job.  i'm not sure why. 

its absurd that we think that how much we love someone will change anything, as though if we love someone enough they won't leave or won't one day be dead, and then no matter how much we know it in our heads we keep searching for some way to bring them back, some way to be with them again, even if for a moment, or some way to communicate things we should have said when they were here and alive, and you cant understand how the sheer unbearable magnitude of your love for that person somehow makes no difference to reality.

no matter how much i love her, she's still dead, and she's not coming back.

it doesn't really help that i proofread insurance letters and traffic accident reports and the like all day long as a job.  this morning i typed eight pages of an insurance claim for a construction worker that fell off some scaffolding and died.  and the client dictated the letter in a heavy southern accent.  of course anything and everything can remind me of her sometimes.  i guess this is normal, the way an amputated limb still reports sensation and pain even though it's literally no longer there, and the body and mind can't seem to get the idea. 

i'm hoping someone comes along, and i'll fall in love (and be loved) again.  i know it's what she would want too.  and i'm sure most people who know me and care about me would agree.  but they're all forgetting how unlikely it is that i'll find someone stupid enough to love me.  that amanda loved me at all defies all logic, common sense and justice.  what are the chances of that ever happening again?  do i have to actually live out my life lonely and unloved in order to find out? what's that all about?

and how does fit in to god's supposed plan and will for our lives?  God doesn't "owe" me one thing.  why are people so confident to say 'don't worry, god has someone for you?'  what, they know something i dont?  i wonder how many people told amanda the same thing too.

there are times when i feel like i'm over it, i'm moving on, and i'm ready to just do this "life" thing and do it hardcore, move on, etc.

then there are other times when i can't deny how absurd it is that i have all this time left, so much more of life ahead, to live without her in it in any possible sense of the word.  just this enormous black emptiness and aching that won't ever be filled.  what's the point in doing anything when there's no one to do it for, or do it with?  how absurd is that?  and why don't people understand how stupid this is? 

the very thought of staying alive feels like a aircraft carrier being dropped on my heart, and i often catch myself trying really hard to figure out a way i can kill myself that won't hurt all the people that love me.  me committing suicide is selfishness on my part, but then doesn't that mean that me staying alive is really just selfishness on the part of everyone else? 

what's probably most absurd out of all this is that after someone you love so intensely dies, the world keeps turning, the sun rises and sets, and the universe generally mocks you with the shameless audacity to keep going on as though nothing fucking happened.

she's gone

i'm still here. 

so much time left.  so much fucking time.
missing man formation

(no subject)

final salute
winner of the 2006 pulitzer prize for feature photography, a collaboration between a writer and photographer to simply and beautifully document the story of a fallen marine, from the moment his casket arrives at the airport to his burial.

warning:  the following link is guaranteed to make you cry.  i'm not joking.  don't say i didn't warn you.
word can help write your suicide note

(no subject)

it was only one hour ago
it was all so different then
there's nothing yet has really sunk in
looks like it always did
this flesh and bone
it's just the way that you would tied in
now there's no one home

i grieve
for you
you leave
so hard to move on
still loving what's gone
they say life carries on
carries on and on
and on and on

the news that truly shocks
is the empty empty page
while the final rattle rocks
its empty empty cage
and i can't handle this

i grieve
for you
you leave
let it out and move on
still missing what's gone
they say life carries on
they say life carries on
and on and on

did I dream this belief?
or did i believe this dream?

i grieve

- i grieve by peter gabriel
from the city of angels soundtrack