Dearly Departed

Sonia Anne
Surface exploration drawing project dedicated to the memory of Sonia Anne Yu

尤曇

Sonia Anne Yu

“Especially Wise Grace”

December 23, 1992 – December 23, 1992

22 years ago, you were born, and 22 years ago, you went straight to Heaven. I guess Dad named you accordingly, because you were very wise to skip over all the pain and trials of life in a broken world. It was a wise choice that you probably didn’t make. Nonetheless, I know our family grieved for your loss, especially Mom. It’s not really the same for me, since I wasn’t even a conceived thought when your time came. I heard about you, and I imagined what life might be like if I had an older sister amongst my three brothers. But I never experienced the grief of your loss, since I never knew exactly what I had lost.

Grandpa gave you your Chinese name after the Queen of the Night flower (Epiphyllum oxypetallum), 曇花, Tánhuā, which blooms in the night, only for a short time before it wilts within a few hours. Mom and Grandma look for that flower every year, hoping to catch it in its full blooming glory, if only for a few short minutes, before it closes and shrivels away. I know they both think of you fondly when they await the flower’s blooming.

In my senior year of high school (two years ago), one of my drawing prompts was childhood memories on a surface other than paper. As I looked through old photo albums for inspiration, I thought of you and the parts of my childhood that you had missed out on. So I decided to turn a collage of a few of my childhood memories into a way to remember you, no matter how short a time you lived—I lived in the same place you lived in for 9 months (that’s one commonality).

One photo was of me and Edric on the rocking horse. I do still remember riding it, although the one in the collage is different from the original. In the collage, I have mounted the horse on an “S”-shaped carousel column for your first initial. The apple that hangs suspended in the center is for my love of apple juice. When I was little, I would only drink apple juice. Mom and Grandma both had an awful time trying to get me to drink water, which I detested—so much so, that I caught pneumonia as a result of dehydration and ended up in the hospital, screaming so loudly (at the needles) that Mom had to leave the floor.

The Chinese character is your Chinese name, for the flower that hovers next to it. The flower stems out of a very long ribbon…it’s the trill symbol, representative of my musical upbringing. I’ve been playing piano for as long as I can remember.

Another photo is of the four of us around “the duck.” I don’t remember the duck’s name. We just had a duck. It lived in our backyard at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Kansas until it grew enough to fly away. Fluffy the Bunny also ran away shortly thereafter. Mom said it’s because “the duck” and Fluffy were best friends. I would not blame either of them if they just wanted to get away from us four crazy hooligans.

The third photo is of me climbing a tree in Judy’s backyard. She was our babysitter. I don’t think I ever made it past the first branch. But I always liked to hang on to that limb for as long as I could. I guess it made me feel accomplished. I placed little me and the tree so that it would create a “Y” for our last initial. The clouds and sky are representative of childhood imagination, as well as your home in Heaven.

I really just chose the cardboard because it sounded like the easiest non-traditional paper surface. I chose the shape of the heart after your gravestone. When we still lived in Kansas, Mom took me to see it every year. I can’t imagine what she went through. She seems to have handled the grief so well for all of these years. I know it’s been a lifelong journey and learning experience for her, as it is for the rest of us.

I know I don’t need to wish you well because you’re living far better than any of us right now. I look forward to meeting you some day.

Happy Birthday!

With Love,

Joyce

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