This project is a way for me to honor my mom by leaving an impression of hope with each paper crane that I make. I haven’t made as many cranes as I’ve wanted to in the past 3 years but with each anniversary I am reminded that the number of cranes is not what is important, it’s the stories that they tell.
Here is a reminder to my story and how this project began on 11/11/10.
My mom (age 26) in Korea
I was only 22 and nearly 3,000 miles away, when I found out my mom had terminal cancer. I had two more months until college graduation. Going home to see her was not an option (for my mom). I was the first in the family on either side to graduate from college. So you can imagine how much my proud mother wanted nothing more than to see that happen, so I had to stay at school, work hard and finish school.
I never really had a close relationship with my mom and I took that for granted. Little did I know, I would only have six months with her after being away for four years. And no matter how overused the sentiment is, it’s true what they say, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Each day that passes I am reminded of that.
Cancer is ugly and mean and will try it’s hardest to take down anything in it’s path. And it it succeeds in lot’s of ways. It’s hard on any family and anyone to battle with such a monster. But despite the pain and everything terrible that cancer represents, my mom defied it. I will never forget how my mother never let anyone tell her there was no hope, that is what kept her soul alive and everyone around her together. Her caring nature was felt not only by family but by her many friends who live all over the world.
In just six months my experience caring for and just being there with my mom would teach me more about life, love, loss and hope, than in all of my 22 years of life combined.
My mom (age 50) in Federal Way, Washington
My younger sister, Sarah, who was there in the time that I wasn’t and had always been so close with our mom folded 1000 paper cranes to wish her good health. The folding of the paper cranes is inspired by the ancient Japanese legend and the Sadako story of 1000 cranes.
We had been folding paper cranes since we were little, it was a part of our lives living on a military base in Japan and Hawaii but they meant more to us now, than ever before. The cranes were than just a wish for good health, they bonded us in an experience that you would never wish upon anyone.
The symbol of paper crane and the sentiment of hope is something I wanted to always hold onto in respect for my mother. So one month after she passed, I got a tattoo of a crane I drew along with the date 11/11. This wasn’t my first or last tattoo but you always forget that from that day on you will forever be asked:
“What is that?” and “What does that mean?”
I found myself quickly learning how to respond without bursting into tears. From day one, Mom always told me, “Don’t cry.” Mom’s never want to see their babies cry, especially for them. Sharing with people the hope that my mother shared with me, keeps me from crying in grief everyday.
Growing up, we lived a military life moving to different places, and each new place my mom left an impression on many hearts within her community.
Each paper crane that I make as a part of this project is another impression, story, journey or place for my mom to eternally experience, whether it’s from heaven or right here with us—living and singing with the birds.