The End of Ordinary

Ordinary expressions of feeling become too painful to bear when your child has been abducted.
Days become weeks become months become years, in which it is impossible to enjoy what has been casually if intensely important all my life:  music, movies, poetry, playing a guitar, singing,  writing a song, taking pleasure in seeing children on the train or in the park or street. Sorrow in the ordinary way it is usually culturally expressed becomes an outrageous and  overwhelming thing that can’t be approached or touched, because to do so is to risk searing pain and deep penetrating misery. Sad poem or song? Spririted expression of sympathetic feeling? Others around are enjoying the beauty, simplicity and charm of a child’s voice, his or her smile, warm face, tenderness. The swinging of her feet against the air in front of her seat. The longing look he gives his father and mother from the cave of a stroller. When she turns away or exits the subway car, my insides turn to  fire. I have to grimace inwardly, or bury my face in my hand.

Work can routinely become extremely difficult to do. I cannot express this strongly enough. To have gotten through a work day is an accomplishment of great and intensive effort, now spread over years. Therapies, medical attention. Reading and contemplation.  Fits of brain activity and emotion that are incommensurate with the trudge of the everyday sometimes plague me.  Incongruous responses to ordinary stimulii. There simply are no “ordinary” feelings available any more.

I have taken refuge in reading over the last years, and it helps. I have also written and written, in notebooks and in unfinished blog posts that were supposed to go up here. As of this date, I have 167 unfinished drafts saved.  … 167…  They are probably mostly worthless, but among them are thousands of words in which I’ve been trying to reckon with politics and domination, privacy and security, precarious existence and “governmentality”… My mentors and teachers have been in strong disagreement with each other: Michel Foucault, Wendy Brown, Harry Harootunian, Carol Gluck, Masao Miyoshi, Donna Haraway, Jacqueline Rose, Anne Allison, Karyn Ball, Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Slavoj Zizek, Bernard Stiegler, Lauren Berlant, Karatani Kojin, Julia Kristeva, Giorgio Agamben,  Adrienne Hurley, Walter Benjamin,  David Harvey, Ueno Chizuko, Bruce Cumings, and so many others. I don’t have the strength to name them all. They are my only saving graces, without knowing how to bring Rui back home.

So today is Thanksgiving, and the first night of Hanukah. I have my family’s menorah but I will light no candles in it without my son.

I am thankful nonetheless, for a handful of friends who have cared enough to pick up the phone, spend time with me, and give me consolation and encouragement.
I hope that one day I can name and do them all justice by producing a study, and a child who is now on his way to becoming quite something else from the boy emerging from the toddler, as I knew him.

I love you Rui.


6 thoughts on “The End of Ordinary

  1. Thank you for writing and sharing this Brian.

    They say time heals all wounds.

    It’s been over five years and I have come to seriously doubt the validity of that claim… perhaps still more time is needed… though at this point I suspect not. Time passed is time lost… never to be recovered.

    Every day is a new wound.

    “How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep…that have taken hold.”

    ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


    1. Time wounds all heels too Carlos.
      Thank you for this note. Believe me, we feel the same about this. There is no returning to lost time, or to the self that was here in this body, so to speak, before Rui’s abduction. The only slightly salutary direction, and I mean a very slight, small step, is to try to put the learning that goes with this to some use. I am trying to find a way to do that. Basically, to find a way to sink our teeth into the system that sustains this crime against us and our kids, bitter and sickening as it is.


  2. Thank you for your thoughts on this day and all others. We anxiously await the opportunity to read your writings. But most of all we wait for the return of your son.


  3. Dear Brian

    I was sorry to read about your pain but know exactly how you feel. No-one who has not had a child abducted like this understands how almost impossible it is to do even the simplest tasks and how difficult it is to enjoy life. People expect you to carry on with life as if nothing had happened.

    My son, to whom the above blog relates, was abducted to Japan just over 2 years ago now and I have not seen him since.

    It is my son’s 5th birthday today and to read your post on today of all days was moving and brought home the reality of the situation.

    I know how awful it is to miss a son and I hope you get to see your son some day soon.

    Best wishes


    1. Thank you for the note Richard; I too am sorry to hear this, but understand the experience we and others are having in commmon. Saying goodbye to normal life is a long, slow process, but to me, it’s preferable to be what I suppose I would call “realistic” about my expectations. This won’t be undone, neither for my son Rui, nor for me. But I am holding on to find some way to be together with him, and to have him know that I have never and would not betray him. For that, I still seek justice and an opportunity to help him heal.
      I will have you in my thoughts and hope for the same or much better for you; to restore your relationship with you son.
      Best wishes to you too


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