Friday, July 6th 2018
How’s my tall talented athlete this evening?
This morning I awoke with Cc around 6am and took Toro with me for a little Morice Boot Camp. 3×10 chin-ups, 3×16 lunges, 3×20 crunches, rest, then 3×20 push-ups, 3x45sec squats, 3x45sec reverse planks. How’s your summer training going? Hope you’re keeping fit and giving the high jump, the long jump and the 800 meters a go this summer!
Stay strong, Phi, mentally & physically. It must be so hard on you, but you know, you don’t have to choose. It’s your birth right to love two families & to be loved by them both. It’s who you are. Australian & Japanese. Hirakawa & Morice. Miso soup & vegemite. Sumo & Aussie footy. You needn’t choose… they’re all part of you. They’re all wonderful. Take your time. Be true to yourself. Listen to your heart. Listen to the truth. We love you. Always will. Always have.
So, what’s Dad up to? Well, it’s School Holidays & today as Cc is working, I’ll take Toro to the SPCA for his vaccination and a fancy-smancy haircut.
It’s wonderful to be on School Holidays and have time to exercise & read! I’ve just finished reading Animal’s People and have started The Gift of Rain. Loved Animal’s People!!! Five big stars!
Yesterday (Thursday) 6.15am, Toro & Dad ran toward Mount Parker. We stopped for a few chin-ups, push-ups, squats & crunches along the way. It’s a good 80 minute run… and hot! Much of the day Dad spent revising his chapter story and in the evening I watched the Cats versus the Swans. At half-time Dad prepared some beef tortillas with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, cream cheese & salsa. Yummo! Shame you didn’t drop in as we had enough for three…
Wednesday 6.15am, Dad & Toro did their boot camp at the local park. Plenty of chin-ups, crunches, planks, push-ups, lunges, kick-ups, dips & side planks. I’m also doing three sets of 2 minute skipping. Then we booked Toro in for his check-up at the SPCA. Dad did a little grocery shopping and dropped the eggs, again. Broke five of them but managed to recover two of them – they’ll go into tonight’s salmon with cream pasta.
Tuesday, Dad & Cc flew back from Nippon. Monday, we met the lawyers, the judge and an architect/engineer at the house. Awful stuff… I don’t know how Cc copes. It’s so depressing after all the work we have put into our house. In the evening we enjoyed sushi with Cc’s family.
Sunday, Dad helped Mr. Osato in the garden with some weeding & composting, then I ordered a second pair of reading glasses. Later, Cc’s friends, Katsu & Yumiko picked us up for lunch at Sitar; it’s an outstanding Indian restaurant. Truly, it’s some of the best Indian I’ve ever eaten… hopefully someday soon, we can enjoy a meal there together. Later we went to the OK supermarket and Shimomura – Cc loves Shimomura, I love the OK supa!
Saturday morning I joined Mrs. Osato & Minori at a community farm to learn a trick or two about vegetable gardens. At 4pm I caught up with my childhood friend, Ralph. We headed to Milton’s for a few drinks on the deck. Later we all went to an Izakaya. Do you remember Ralph? He visited us in Numazu and we often met him in Melbourne. I first met Ralph when I was only 12 months of age. We’ve been great mates ever since. Ralph brought his son, Matthew (he’s about the same age as you), to Japan for a holiday… father & son… isn’t that beautiful! Wouldn’t it be great to travel together!? Where would you like to go?
Friday morning I worked in the Osato garden, trimming and pruning trees. In the afternoon I went to the Outlets and bought Cc a Kate Spade bag, a bracelet & a necklace. I also snagged myself some sox (socks) & jox (underpants).
Thursday, I went out to the house to do some pruning. Ralph met me there with his son, Matthew. Later I went back to Ralph’s hotel in Hamamatsucho for a shower. Then we headed out to an izakaya for dinner.
Well, buddy… we missed you again, but while I was in Japan, I thought of you every day… XoXo… LOVE Dad…
Sunday, October 14th 2018
It is with a curious sense of calm that I write to you on the eve of your 16th birthday. Happy birthday for tomorrow! Hope it’s everything you dream of & more. I miss you so much on your birthdays. I can’t help but think of brighter times when I put on a party for you. There was the horse (Spirit) cake, the Kitty Chan cake, the playground cake, the presents, the laughter, your friends…
The pain of living apart from you has not been erased, indeed it heightens around this time every year; as it does at Christmas. It’s now half your life that I have been distanced from you. Seven years is a lot of precious memories.
I wish I could have been there for you. I wish I could have listened when you needed someone to talk to. I wish I could have supported you with your learning, your identity, your passion for life.
Two weeks ago, we were in Nippon. I was keen to see you as the letter below indicates. Alas, it was not to be. In any case, we managed to find a beautiful sporty handbag for you. Actually, C discovered it, and thought a sixteen year old princess might like it. Happy birthday… I hope you like our gift… XoXo…
Recently C discovered that you were attending a school in Hanno. I hope you enjoy school and have found a supportive group of friends. I took the opportunity to write to the high school principal:
“Mr. Tatsuya Arai (High School Principal),
I am the father of your student, Ophelia.
I am visiting Japan from Hong Kong Wednesday, October 3rd and hope to meet with you or Ophelia’s teacher. I am keen to learn how I can best support my daughter, her bilingualism, and her identity.
I look forward to meeting you and am impressed with the progressive educational philosophy Jiyunomori Gakuen espouses.
Strangely, within days of writing the above letter, I received an email from your mother. She ignored my plea to resume visitations; instead she requested money.
Good evening Phi,
I’m sorry that I haven’t written in so long. Maybe the above broke me, because it’s now Sunday, January 6th 2019. It’s been too long, I know. Happy New Year Bella! I hope the Year of the Pig becomes the greatest year of your life. I hope 2019 we reunite. I hope 2019 is the year you rediscover your identity, reconnect with your Australian family, and set your path for a happy, engaging & adventurous future. A future where nobody shackles who you are. A future of integrity, laughter & passion. Already your story has touched so many lives; it’s time you broke out of the Saitama bubble & rediscovered the world, your world.
So, what’s Dad been up to? Well, at 2.30pm on Thursday December 20th we flew to Hanoi, Vietnam. We had a lovely two nights in the sleepy capital. We stayed in a cool hotel in the old quarter.
Each morning, Dad rose at 5am and ran with the locals around the lake. I even found a chin-up bar.
Then Cc & Dad enjoyed a scrumdiliumpcious breakfast of mainly fresh fruit… the passion fruits were divine. During the day, we explored, walked and enjoyed the local cafes. Vietnam does some good coffee! For lunch one day we caught up with one of Cc’s Vietnamese friends from her Paris days. After lunch she took us to her brother’s café & taught us all about Vietnamese coffee. Very cool! She even gave us 500 grams of coffee & a little Vietnamese coffee press.
On the 23rd we flew into Phu Quok; it’s an island south of Cambodia, but it’s still Vietnamese territory. We stayed in a tiny resort on the north coast of Phu Quoc. We had arranged to meet our buddies from Yokohama, Yuki & Sonia (Spanish). Their son, Andoni had just turned two. The five of us had a magnificent time… shame, our Ophelia couldn’t join us. We had a beautiful spacious room that overlooked the swimming pool. There was just the one restaurant, so we ate there for lunch & dinner, too. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too expensive. One night we all jumped in a cab and went to a fish restaurant… YUMMO!
At 12.10pm on December 27th we flew to HCM. Sonia teaches at an international school in HCM, so we had our own tour guides! It was our first time to HCM, and despite some reservations, we both loved it. Again, the coffee was good, our hotel was comfortable & affordable, the food was brilliant, and there was plenty to see & do.
Sunday December 30th at 11.30am we flew back to HK. In Vietnam, I managed to work-out nearly every day; in fact on Phu Quoc as the sun rose, your Dad was out there running, jumping, hopping & sweating. Between January 1 & 6 I did some serious work-outs that brought a little pain to the old muscles.
On Monday, January 7th Dad went back to school…
I’m so hopeful that this is the year we will meet again. I wonder if that is a smile on your face as you’re reading. How did you find our blog? Where are you as you read? You needn’t worry about your mother & father. I certainly don’t want to cause any friction. It’s about you, not about your parents. The world is big enough for both your mum & dad… your heart is ample for both of us. You needn’t choose. It’s your right to be loved by both families. It’s who you are. It’s your identity, your destiny, your heart… no one else’s.
Love, love, LOVE… XoXo… Dad.
Today’s a good day, even though I cried last night. I don’t usually cry. Today I had some good news that I hope to tell you about someday soon. To this point in my life, there has always been the absence of someone fundamental to my existence. You. I get by, in fact, I greatly enjoy my life. I laugh, I smile, I love. Cc is my world. But at the end of every day, you’re still missing. Sometimes it feels like I’m stripped of something essential. I feel sluggish, tired, pessimistic, drained. Something deep within me feels splintered & torn. Depending on the moment, I could be lost in a million different shades of emotion; few of them subtle.
Sometimes it feels like a bog of thoughts, but not all of them drown me. I’m not a doleful, weary, or an unsmiling presence. In fact, I’m more of a glass half full than half empty type of person. I’m pretty good at pulling myself out of these bogs. Usually, it’s the thought of you that makes me smile once again. Nothing can take those memories from me.
Often, I remember the squeaks and mutters you would make in the middle of the night. Perhaps, your nappy needed changing, perhaps you were hungry, perhaps you’d had a nightmare. Or, perhaps you were just wide awake and wanted your dad. I was glad to pick you up. I wonder how many times I scooped you up off your grey beanbag & in my arms carried you to bed; were you pretending to sleep? Sometimes I knew you were pretending because you smiled, your beautiful, precious, trusting smile. A smile I will never forget. I can see it now, this very moment.
All those years we lived together, just the two of us, you gave me a sense of purpose. Often you wanted a story, and I was glad for that, too. Tales of princesses, unicorns, horses, Australia, you & me (always a team) and Totoro. Then you started to grow up, right in front of my eyes. Your gentleness was apparent from a very early age. Your will to do good. Your inborn happiness, but also your bewilderment at people’s cruelty. More than once, I suffered as you suffered when your supposed friends treated you unfairly. A life experience we all must hurdle. In some ways, such hardships make us better people. They steel us for the real world.
For so long I have worried that my face was lost to you. I hope soon I will learn that you have not forgotten me.
Love Dad… XoXo…
Sunday, April 14th 2019
Hi Phi. By now the new school year in Japan must be underway. I guess you’re starting year 11 (high school second year). How’s all that academic stuff going? Do you have a favorite subject? A favorite teacher? An area of learning that you’re really passionate about? I wish I could be there, beside you, to listen, to support, to help you…
Sometimes being separated from you slams into me. These moments catch me off guard, and once or twice a year I cry like a child. I guess it’s something I have learned to wrestle with, because until Uncle Sean caught me crying on Christmas day several years ago, I manage to hole up alone. Just me and my tears with thoughts of you… wondering… hoping, this will all come to an end soon.
I hope these missives don’t read like chronicles of disappointment; like these paragraphs. Their purpose is anything but. It’s my therapy, and my way of sharing my daily life. There’s nothing profound about my words, no rich imagery intended, it’s just my way of sharing. All the little things we shared. All the moments I remember. It’s simple, everyday stuff that I want to share side-by-side with you… someday soon. It’s a narrative that will hopefully bring together the disjointed scraps that linger in your memory… the names, the people, the places, the laughs, the joys, the events, the memories… This is my pen… it’s no wand. But this word, this paragraph, this page, this post, and all the other posts are for one person only… you, Ophelia… my daughter.
Late last month, on Friday, March 29th Uncle Hayd arrived. It was magic to see him. If anything, we’ve become closer over the years; especially since I lost you. He’s a good listener, great support, very encouraging. Everyday, together we rose before 6am, enjoyed a quick coffee and then we hit the trails in our jogging shoes. Every morning we exercised. I loved it. We both did. Sometimes we exercised for two+ hours then treated ourselves to a yummy breakfast at Coffee 101.
On Monday April 1st, Tim arrived. Remember ‘Funny Timmy’? He’s still a classic! Larger than life & soldiering on after his near miss with cancer then legionnaires disease. Brave man! The three high school mates reunited after all these years! Probably the last time the three of us travelled together was in our mid-twenties in London.
On the Tuesday, the three of us, Hayd, Tim & Dad flew to Dan Nang, Vietnam. Dad found amazingly cheap flights – 82USD return! At first, we took a taxi to Hoi An. Such a beautiful place. Historical & majestic; no wonder Hoi An is a World Heritage site. Hayd & Dad kept up their exercise regime – on the Wednesday morning at 6am (it was still dark), we ran to the beach & back. Then we did our push-ups & crunches by the beautiful pool. After a fantastic breakfast of fresh fruit, we wandered into town for our lattes.
Wednesday, we moved to Tim’s fancy-smancy hotel in Da Nang, the Hilton. Again, every morning, Dad & Hayd ran to the beach for a body surf. Then we enjoyed a big breakfast buffet. Next, we wandered around. We returned to Honkers on Saturday, April 6th… Dad brought back with him some Da Nang belly… not much fun! Upon reflection, there was not much to do in Da Nang, but I’ll definitely go back to Hoi An. Wouldn’t it be grand to go together? You, me & Cc…
Love Dad… XoXo…
May 3rd 2019.
How are you doing? You’ll be seventeen this year… I can hardly believe it. I’m not even sure what you look like anymore. I wonder how tall you are, if you can still speak English, if you’re happy at school, who your best friends are… So many questions left unanswered.
Fortunately, Dad is in a good place. Life is good, except for the painful fact that I miss you.
This afternoon after school, Dad will run with the young bucks. We’ll run out to Ocean Park & then return. I’m filled with an immature sense of excitement, knowing I’m keen to best these guys who are 15 to 20 years younger than me. Competitive? Yes. Do you share the same passion to better yourself as a runner? Phi, I simply can’t wait to be running shoulder-to-shoulder with you… maybe this Christmas… XoXo… Maybe we can choose a new pair of running shoes for your 17 birthday, together…
Then after my run, I’ll write some math reports. Later I’ll meet Cc because we’ve been invited to dinner with our Chinese friends here in Repulse Bay.
I know as each day draws to a close, I am missing really important small moments in your life. I remember yesteryear and the moments we shared… like riding our bicycles together to school; walking you into school and helping you put your school bag on the hook; joining you as a guest reader on the Author’s Chair in the classroom; picking you up from camp; taking you to a dance session; dropping you off for a playdate; volunteering to be a parent chaperone on field trips and camp. I miss you…
So, what’s happened recently? Saturday April 13th Uncle Leo visited. We met at Fortress Hill Station. It was great to see him. He’s being stoic; I expected that of him. His wife, my aunt, Sue, died of breast cancer just over 12 months ago. Leo has taken up lawn bowls, so he took the opportunity to come to HK & play bowls up at the Cricket Club near Wong Ni Chung Gap. Dad & Cc shouted him breakfast at Brew Note, then we came back to our flat for a chat. Of course, we talked about you… and hoped that this would be the year…
On April 27th Tim returned to Honkers for a couple of nights. We had a couple of nice meals, one in particular at Wine Beast, where they paired the wine with each dish served.
And that’s about it…
Love Dad… XoXo…
Monday, May 13th 2019
It’s been seven years, eight months & two days…