An unknown known

With the semester at our university winding down, I am working around the clock. At times like this, at all times in fact, there are things that remind me of Rui, and cause an extra twinge of sorrow as his face visits me, or his voice or an image of him playing in his winter coat on the park climbing set flashes past my memory’s eye. And then, I mourn him again.

Soon I’ll write here more: I have some very serious thoughts to discuss, and I want to do them justice. Just know, everyone who stops here, that I’m grateful to you that you did so. And know that we parents of the abducted are all mourning a little extra hard right now, coming into the rush of people making holiday plans with their children or their best-loved people.

That space in the brain that was awakened by being a parent, that pathway of growth that was formed years ago where the energies of parental love pulsed through, does not close back up again. I think it may be misunderstood to say it this way at times, but I suspect most of my friends who have raised a child will agree. There are areas of psychological experience that alter  feeling and thought patterns that don’t recede again. Nor would we want them to, really, although they can cause us pain. A spear of grass or a budding flower seeks sunlight, leans one or another way to find it, and so do the stems extending within sections of our brains when we have high-intensity experiences. I don’t know whether it’s better to think of this metaphorically or otherwise, via a more empirical or scientific discovery. Either way, this unconscious process that alters us is an unknown known. We can’t pinpoint it nor fully characterize it, I don’t suppose, by looking at a graph or using imaging technology. But I am as certain of its existence as I am of the oxygen I’ll draw in my next breath of air. This is why we don’t and can’t give up, or give in. We cannot.

Who we have in our corner makes all the difference to our mutual abilities to survive. We parents of abducted children owe it to ourselves and our kids and our fellow human beings to recognize their struggles alongside ours. Too narrow a focus, and we become damaged and narcissistic. We also become less attractive allies in the eyes of our brothers and sisters. What is good for us, is good for all. We turn our backs on other forms of suffering today, and we in turn imperil ourselves and our chances. When the entire world mourns, we must align ourselves beside it, to earn the solidarity we desire.

* * * * * * * *


As I’m writing this note today, Morton Prager, my father, Rui’s grandfather, has just completed his 90th birthday. To this day, he is still doing some teaching, leading seminars, attending reading groups and passing the torch of learning and the sensibilities of his heart to others.

The question I send out today is, will you, Machiko Terauchi, create the opportunity for Rui to know his grandfather? You only have to respond to this request, to allow Rui to know from where his intelligence, sensitivity, his love for music or pictures comes. Whatever animates him today, he deserves to be that much more alive, rather than to be sequestered away where his inheritance remains a mystery, knowing that it is there yet fearing it, or remaining unable to touch it, to see it lit up. Leaving it an unknown known.

3 thoughts on “An unknown known

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