Condensed, Reduced Life

Rui do you know that this is our story? Do you know that you were born and grew up your first years in New York with me and your mother?
Do you know how loved and adored you were by us both?

Do you know how hard it is to know that you have been kidnapped for so long, that you are still missing, and that no one helps us?

Your father is not a ghost of bad dreams! I am the one who first held you, and whose finger you took as you took your first breath of air, sang to you, held you, fed you, cared for you when you were sick, took you to pre-school in my arms, played together with you in the park and at home.

I want so much for you to know what happened – and to know what your true family was and is now, still.

I have watched this collection of clips again all the way through tonight on your 13th birthday. You may not understand this altogether at once; but I have not forgotten us for a single day of my life since you were kidnapped to Japan by the Terauchis, Matsumotos, and their co-conspirators and friends.

It’s so important for you to know that it was not an act of nature nor an act of indifference by your father that has kept us apart for so long. It was the malevolence and crude violence of amoral, child-abusive, mean-spirited, hate-filled-and-motivated people in Japan. Your family here, though far from perfect, is not in any way like this.

I can only make this understood to you if we have the opportunity and the time for me to tell you and teach you to understand. This is not an easy task; but I’m more than willing. I’m aching for it.


I’ll be seeing you
In all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces
All day through
In that small café
The park across the way
The children’s carousel
The chestnut trees
The wishing well

I’ll be seeing you
In every lovely summer’s day
In everything that’s light and gay
I’ll always think of you that way
I’ll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I’ll be looking at the moon
But I’ll be seeing you

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Cold, Cold Water

November 16th, 2005

I remain your father Rui, and in love with you.
There are lots of political and legal subjects to study. I’m always at work on it.
I have an intellectual understanding of it by now. A systemic reduction of people to mathemes.
But I will never quite fully grasp the cruelty of the one who did this to you and me.
To abduct a child requires a deeply dehumanizing vision – especially of those who are the nearest targets of that vision.
Reach out and touch, Rui. I will do the same.
Cold, cold water surrounds me now
And all I’ve got is your hand
Lord, can you hear me now?
Lord, can you hear me now?
Lord, can you hear me now?
Or am I lost?



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In Jacqueline Rose’s Mothers, she writes a lament, a critical inquiry, and a protest on behalf of mothers, and by extension (for me), all parents and children.

We seek to protect our loved and vulnerable ones. So first she borrows an epigraph from Shakespeare’s The Winter Tale :

Hermoine: You gods, look down,
And from your sacred vials, pour your graces
Upon my daughter’s head

And this from The Return by Hisham Matar:

I suppose that is what we want from our mothers: to maintain the world –  and, even if it is a lie, to proceed as though the world could be maintained.

Although these are poignantly addressed by Jacqueline Rose to the dialogue of desire, failure, and longing we hold for motherhood, they have much relevance for us as parents, friends, and as guardians of the world in the necessary work of care for all whom we encounter that need us, and whom we need.

We buried Greg in wet ground on Wednesday, October 17th. I had to return to New York and my employer in time to work Thursday. If the images in my dreams last night are an indication, we are far from done with the shocks and pains from this fresh wound.  It is a dreary thing to be whisked away from out of the middle of things, before the first processes are even done, to face the long process of grieving and learning to live with the grief.

I have in mind the lost love and relationships that our children and we ourselves have had to endure. Why was Rui not allowed to know his uncles? Inside a neo-feudal structure of workplace-serfdom we’ve inherited from living pasts, we confront the most fundamental elements of life, and the aging and faltering of our bodies from posts in the republic of suffering, rooted into the less meaningful forms that we live:  borne down by authority in semi- and post-industrial service work, in a bruising, unfree social semi-order. We live in shifting historical time between  positive and negative poles, some as a legacy of victories, others as consequential disasters and their long afterlives.

The Russian Futurist poet, Velimir Khlebnikov, gives me another epigraph for the feeling of this moment, from The Tables of Destiny, of 1914:

The law of the see-saw argues
That your shoes will be loose or tight
That the hours will be day or night
And the ruler of earth the rhinoceros
Or us.

We owe and are owed life for ourselves and the care of those we love. My dear sister reminded us on Wednesday in her eulogy for Greg Eaves, seeking blessing against blight in the ancient love-text, Song of Songs,

Love is stronger than Death.

For Greg,
In loving memory

I woke up every morning
Not believing her to be gone
Outside the doves and sparrows
Carried on



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Our Brother

Tonight we have to mourn the passing of Greg Eaves, Rui’s uncle, my sister Karen’s beloved spouse.  Our brother.
Like my sister / his wife Karen, Greg studied and practiced psychotherapy. Like her,  he aimed to be a healer of the most intangible forms of pain: the psychic ones.

Speaking as father of my only and abducted child, I wish every one of those who afflict our vulnerable loved ones could be silenced, and the motives of psychic violence be neutralized.

Every day of our lives should be lived so well for others as Greg did his. We love him for this and can hardly speak.

Karen and Greg


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