08 Aug New Memories and Tuk Tuks
This August 14th, it will be three years since we lost Dragon. Since our son and his dear friend, Justin, were killed. The time has gone by in a flash – how can it be 3 years already? The time has crept by agonizingly slow. How have we survived all these long days?
I remember one of the first trips we took without Dragon – to Las Vegas for the Half Marathon. “It must be hard,” my friend Maria commented, “to make new memories without him.” It was. It felt like a betrayal. That we got to continue to live life when Dragon’s was cut so short, was uncomprehendingly unfair. I didn’t want to make new memories without my son. It physically hurt to make new memories without my son. If he couldn’t be there, nothing in the world would tempt me. But that’s not the way life works.
This summer has been one full of new experiences. Hannah and I took a trip with her school’s Film & TV conservatory to Cambodia – a trip to learn documentary filmmaking. Cambodia was awe-inspiring. A country of contradictions, newly modernizing but also rooted in centuries-old traditions. High rise buildings next to carts squeezing sugar cane for sweet drinks. 12th century Angkor Wat, but with monks running around with cell phones. I loved experiencing a different culture – eating the delicious curries, meditating in front of a golden Buddha, observing the laughs between the vendors at the open-air markets. I loved having time with my camera, inspired by the people we met to take portraits, inspired to capture the beauty of this country. Most of all, I loved watching Hannah take it all in. Cambodia brought back to life a part of me that I thought had died when my son died. Cambodia made me remember what it felt like to want to see the world.
In Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, we rode around in a bus hired to drive us. But in Siem Reap, a much smaller city near the Angkor Wat temple complex, we rode around in tuk tuks – moped powered carriages, omnipresent in more rural Cambodia. We had a small army of tuk tuks to ferry the 14 of us, taking us to meals, to sights, to our hotel. Mr. Heng was the driver of my favorite tuk tuk, as he kindly offered fresh water and a smile every time we climbed into his carriage. As we were leaving Angkor Wat, as Hannah and I climbed into his tuk tuk, I noticed for the first time a sticker on the side of his carriage. A sinuous, powerful-looking dragon wound its way along a red background, under a bold headline that stopped me in my tracks. “Where there be DRAGONS” read the headline of the sticker on the tuk tuk that had been ferrying me around the country for the last week. I smiled as I reached for my camera, to take a photo to show Daniel.
Oh… Dragon… I long for his presence. I wish he were here with us. I want him by our side, marveling at temples, walking around night markets. I had dreamed of showing my children the world, and thought that we would have many, many years to explore the world together. I wanted to take them on a wildlife safari, to explore the spice markets of Marrakesh, to eat sushi in Tokyo, to show them the pyramids. But those are not the cards we were dealt. That’s not the life I get to have.
But, I still get to see the world with my Dragon and my Hannah. He is still with me, my Dragon. I see Dragon everywhere I go.