August 21, 2014

The Taste of Happiness

It was right before 6 o'clock on Saturday night. 

I was running late cooking dinner, sauteing chopped onion in olive oil and melted butter. I heard the sound of a lawn mower coming from a distance, slowly approaching to the kitchen window. 

Why hurry, I told myself. Stephen had just started his mower and the boys would be busy following their Daddy's heels until the last blade of grass is cut short. I took a deep breath to slow down. Summer days are easy. No homework, no getting up early the next day.

Queen Anne's Lace + my art: Contemplating in our kitchen

I glanced out of the kitchen window and saw my 5-year-old just a few feet away from his Daddy. I looked around expecting to find my youngest son, but I couldn't find him. "Where is he?" I felt a tightness in my chest. 

I flung opened the window and called my husband. He stopped the mower immediately, looked around and shook his head. He didn't know where the boy was. 

He called the boy's name loud once, twice, and three times. No response. 

My husband ran to the front yard looking for his son. I dropped the wooden spoon in the sizzling pan and ran out from the poach door with bare feet. 

Where could he be? My heart pounded hard in my chest, while running through the garage to the front yard trying to find a trace of that little boy. 

He was only a week shy of becoming three years old. He could make a bad choice without knowing its consequence. Did he follow a ball rolling down our steep drive way to the street? Could he be taken away by a stranger who came from the woods? 

"Oh no, God, no! Don't let that be!" I pleaded as I frantically looked around our front yard. He was not there. I couldn't breathe.  

I turned the corner to the side of our house, and I saw his chubby legs pushing the pedals hard on his red Radio Flyer tricycle.

I grabbed him from the bike and squeeze him tight in my arms. 

"Thank you, God, for keeping him safe," I whispered, as I let out a sigh of relief. I pressed my lips to his soft cheeks, covered in sweat and dirt. His cheeks were warm and we were safe. But the tightness in my chest didn't go away.

I have a quiet ache that runs deep within me. My heart aches for my boys every day - when they are hurt or struggle to make new friends. My heart grieves for the things I have lost over the years, too. The time I could've spent with my family who lives on the opposite side of the planet and the financial security we once had.

Every time I'm not sure if I could keep pushing forward, I would look up and capture something beautiful like a snapshot. The moment my son gave me a little shiny pebble he found in the backyard with his grin so wide and proud. The moment I wondered if I could see my grandmother again while she's still alive, then turned around and found my husband tenderly smiling at me. I savor those fleeting moments of happiness before they slip through my fingers.

When did my world come alive with all these of emotions? When did I start tasting fresh corn so sweet, a homemade blackberry pie so tart? When did I realize a handful of Queen Anne's Lace from our land is more graceful than a store bought bouquet of flowers?

Was it when I became a parent? When I moved to a foreign country by myself? When we decided to change our careers despite the financial risks? 

I once knew happiness, the kind that didn't cause any aches. The safe kind that doesn't involve any risks. I lived a sheltered life and smiled like an innocent flower. I didn't know what it meant to be stepping out of that boundary of my comfort zone and really live.

All the pains and aches I've been through over the past several years have woken my senses and given me a new set of eyes to see things in a different light. I find myself yearning to live and taste life in a way I've never done before. The deeper the ache your heart knows, the more beautiful and vibrant the world becomes. You will never know what sweetness really tastes like without knowing the taste of bitterness.

I'm not afraid of taking risks with life anymore, for now I know the taste of true happiness. Because I know life is beautiful no matter what it brings.


  1. Hi Yuko! What mom doesn't know that moment of terror when she doesn't see her child? Oh my, I was right with you, and I'm so glad you found him safe and happy.
    What a great statement to make! That you are not afraid to take risks. That is a hard won blessing, and like you pointed out, the harder the path, the sweeter appreciation you have. No one's life is easy all the time, and if I can learn from the bad times, my days will be filled with sweet moments like yours.
    Have a day of blessings!

  2. Replies
    1. I love having you here, Linda. Thank you for stopping by! x

  3. So glad to hear your little one is OK. I have a nephew the same age who I recently lost sight of, and had the same anxiety you described. Lovely, post :-)

    1. Oh so glad you're nephew is safe too. Toddlers are busy, busy, busy exploring the world!

  4. Ah! That's why I couldn't have children. I would probably collapse into a catatonic shock. Haha I used to babysit my cousins for a week or two at a time, and my aunt said she loved it because she knew I ran the house like a prison! Lol I was so (senselessly) paranoid, I would actually have the alarm on windows and doors on at all times.
    I love QAL. I think it's such an ethereal and soft flower.

    1. Haha, I think I'm a lot like you, Stephen! My anxiety level has definitely gone up since I became a mom. lol

  5. I remember attending a street fair and my little girl saw another little girl heldher hand and walked away from us. I almost lost my mind, the parent of the other little girl retraced her steps and found me bawling my eyes out. I am taking risk at the moment and it's scary, but I would not have it any other way.

    Lisa x

    1. Oh Lisa, how scary! Glad your little one was okay. I love that you're taking a risk despite the fear. I'd love to know more about it! xx

  6. Yikes - how scary, Yuko! I can just visualize those moments. Glad he is fine. And btw, your food looks yum!! xo

    1. Thanks Loi! Yes, it was quite scary, though many parents probably go through moments like that. The blackberry pie turned out quite delicious :)

  7. Yuko - such beautifully poignant reflection. I do so love how your share such heartfelt stories, even scary moments, and the beauty that still remains between the lines.

    "The deeper the ache your heart knows, the more beautiful and vibrant the world becomes. You will never know what sweetness really tastes like without knowing the taste of bitterness.

    I'm not afraid of taking risks with life anymore, for now I know the taste of true happiness. Because I know life is beautiful no matter what it brings."

    Yes, yes, yes friend! Thank you SO much for your beautiful heart notes, always :)

    1. Thank you, sweet Shawna. Blogging is much more fun when I have a friend like you.

  8. What a beautiful, but heart wrenching post, Yuko. I can't even imagine how you must have felt that day. The terror! It brings tears to my eyes. So glad your little one was okay. xxx


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