Thursday, April 29, 2010

a year ago..

So I realized the other day that April 3rd marked my one year anniversary in the blogosphere. I guess I've been a bit too busy with all that life has thrown my way lately, and missed that day and the opportunity to have an anniversary blog post. Well, it's been almost a month now, so doing a special post to commemorate the year missed it's turn.

However... I feel that perhaps there are a few things I can note about the past year. What a year... I can honestly say-and I have done so in the past- that this corner of mine really did save my sanity in all the darkness we had to endure. When I first started writing here, my husband was fighting the battle with his illness already and in the months that followed, with all the pain and the ugliness that cancer brought to our lives.... we shared many happy moments. There was a lot of love and joy still residing in our home, and I'm so glad that I was able to share those moments with all of you here and in some way writing about all of it eased the experience for me and gave me a place to not only document that time in our lives, but also created a place to look back on. The pages here hold so much love, sadness, pain, joy, beauty... in other words life...our life, the last moments of his life... and no matter how painful it can be for us to flip through these pages at times, it still fills our hearts with joy and warmth... The kind words that all of you gave me also warms my heart, those very words kept me going so many times, on so many days where my strength was running low, you guys gave me strength and hope...and for all of that I am so thankful. This corner of mine shared by all of you DID save my sanity and my life, I am the person still standing here today because of you... because of the love you all showed me..

In fact, as I sit here this windy morning in LA, looking at the photo in front of me on my desk of my husband and I... all the memories we made together are rushing through my head. We have a great many... we did a lot together, saw many things, felt so much, experienced a lifetime together... I am so grateful for that...

Here's whats going through my mind now... let's sit for a moment, get a pen and paper and write down all the things we've done in our lives so far. All the things we are proud of and the things we've done that we are not so proud of, write down all the big and little things we've achieved, the greatness we've shown at times as well as the ugly and bad things we've done. All the beauty we've seen, all that we've felt, all we've experienced... Think about it... how many times do we really sit back and replay our lives in our head... not many. Most of us think back on our lives at the end of the road, on our way out, and hope that it was a full life, one that doesn't give us too many regrets. But what if we can do this on our path, as we are walking it in stead of at the end of it... For one thing, we can see that we have lived so far, that we have had many experiences, good and bad, and that all we've seen and done has brought us here, and for that we should be thankful. However... if the life we see behind us feels empty and unfulfilled... perhaps we can open our eyes and our hearts a bit more, and let life penetrate our days. Perhaps by seeing on paper what we have or have not done yet.. will push us into living a fuller life... and maybe we will be more open to experiencing things that come our way... huh maybe it's time to make a bucket list...

Time to live our lives to the fullest.... so... let's let life penetrate our days...

Saturday, April 24, 2010



We already had been deported once, in 1915, sent towards Der-Zor. But, my uncle’s friend had connections in the government and he had us ordered back to Izmir. Orders came again that everyone must gather in front of the Armenian church to be deported. My father refused to go and told us not to worry. He didn’t think the Turkish government would do anything to him since he was a government employee himself. Twelve Turkish soldiers and an official came very early the next morning. We were still asleep. They dragged us out in our nightgowns and lined us up against the living room wall. Then the official ordered my father to lie down on the ground… they are, dirty the Turks… very dirty… I can’t say what they did to him. They raped him! Raped! Just like that. Right in front of us. And that official made us watch. He whipped us if we turned away. My mother lost consciousness and fell to the floor. Afterwards, we couldn’t find our father. My mother looked for him frantically. He was in the attic, trying to hang himself. Fortunately, my mother found him before it was too late. My father did eventually kill himself-later, after we escaped.

Kristine Hagopian b. 1906, Smyrna

They took us from Hüsenig, to Mezre, to Kharpert to Malatia and then, after a couple of days walk, to the shores of the Euphrates River. It was around noon when we got there and we camped. For a while, we were left alone. Sometime later, Turkish gendarmes came over and grabbed all the boys from 5 to 10 years old. I wasa bout 7 or 8. They grabbed me too. They threw us all into a pile on the sandy beach and started jabbing us with their swords and bayonets. I must’ve been in the center because only one sword got me…nipped my cheek… here, my cheek. But, I couldn’t cry. I was covered with blood from the other bodies on top of me, but I couldn’t cry. If had, I would not be here today.When it was getting dark, my grandmother found me. She picked me up and consoled me. It hurt so much. I was crying and she put me on her shoulder and walked around. Then, some of the other parents came looking for their children. They mostly found dead bodies. The river bank there was very sandy. Some of them dug graves with their bare hands, shallow graves and tried to bury their children in them. Others, just pushed them into the river, they pushed them into the Euphrates. Their little bodies floated away.

Sam Kadorian b. 1907, Hüsenig, Kharpert

There was a girl, a girl whom I had befriended on the road earlier. Her name was Satenig. I remember her very well. She was not too strong. I saw her again in that basement. In the basement of the school where they had thrown us. She was there. She had a little bit of money and she gave it to me. “Don’t let them takeme,” she said. “Don’t let them take me.” They would come around everyday and take whomever was dead or very weak. She was not in good shape, she was very weak. I stood her up and leaned on her. Held her up, so. They came. I was holding her up, leaning her up against the wall. But they saw her and took her… took her…

Edward Bedikian b. 1902, Sepasdia

When the massacres began, I was 12 years old. I remember, they first took all the men of our village and killed them. The rest of us were deported. I don’t know how many hundreds we were. Everyone according to his ability rented a donkey or a horse and we left. We went from Albistan to Zeitun to Marash to Aintab. We camped on a farm behind Aintab College, near some newly dug foundations for houses. They were simply large holes in the ground. You understand? An epidemic had broken out in our caravan and people were dying all around us. They started filling those foundations with their dead bodies. Two, three, four, five bodies on top of each other. From Aintab, orders came that everyone over the age of 12 was to be sent to Der-Zor. A friend of mine and I escaped, but we were caught later and this time they sent us to Bizib and then toward Biredjig. Biredjig is on the shores of the Euphrates. You understand? It is on the other side of the river. We stayed in a khan (an inn) on this side. Caravans would come through there and be sent off toward the desert, hundreds and hundreds of Armenians. We used to see dead, bloated bodies floating in the river.

Bedros Bahadourian b. 1902, Gürün

The crowds were huge in Meskeneh. We were in the middle of a vast sandy area and the Armenians there were from all over, not only from Marash. We had no water and gendarmes would not give us any. There were only two gendarmes for that huge crowd. Just two. Wasn’t there a single man among us who could have killed them? We were going to die anyway. Why did we obey those two gendarmes so sheepishly? The word was that from Meskeneh, we were going to be deported to Der-Zor. My father had brought along a tent that was black on one side and white on the other. Each time gendarmes approached us to send another group to Der-Zor, my father would move the tent. He would pitch it on the other side of the crowd—as far awayas possible. We were constantly moving. He bought us quite a bit of time that way. Eventually, we crossed the Euphrates River to Rakka where we found an abandoned house—with no doors or windows—and we squatted there. But we still had no food. We used to eatgrass. We used to pick grains from animal waste, wash them and then in tin cans frythem to eat. We used to say: “Oh, mommy, if we ever go back to Marash, just give us fried wheat and it will be enough.

Sion Abajian b. 1908, Marash

More eye witness stories ....

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I remember YOU..

I remember nine months ago today you looked into my eyes for the last time..

I remember how the smile on your face never drowned in the pain..

I remember the love in your eyes when you hugged our boys..

I remember the kisses you blew from across the room..

I remember your trembling hands reaching out to me, when you wanted me near..

I remember how you loved our long talks..

I remember when you'd hold my hand as we walked..

I remember your laugh, your smile, and even your mischievous grin..

I remember your tender fingers as they caressed my face..

I remember how you loved to savor each moment..

I remember the smile on your face as you watched our boys play..

I remember how you held them so carefully when they were just babies..

I remember seeing your eyes tear up watching sad movies..

I remember your warm hugs and how you held me tight when I needed comfort..

I remember how you made me laugh and loved it when I smiled..

I remember your sweet kisses that sent butterflies fluttering..

I remember how much we laughed the day we said "I do"..

I remember when you whispered.. "I love you" for the first time..

I remember everything..

I remember YOU..

My heart is yours forever..

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'd choose this path again...

Today is April 11th, this date may mean something special for some, maybe a birthday or anniversary, and for others it's just another number on the calendar. For me though it's not only a special date, one that will always remain in my heart and in my memories, but this date signifies an important turning point in my life. On this date nineteen years ago, I realized that something special was happening, I knew I had found a deep connection with someone, that true love had found me. Nineteen years ago today... I found myself walking on clouds, this was the day we first kissed and the rest as they say is history...

It's funny actually, I don't remember the exact date we met, or of our first date, but I remember this one, this was the day we both realized that we were in love and that our search was over.... We had a nice lunch down at the beach, talked forever sitting on the sand as the sun set, I guess the moment was perfect, and as unromantic of a person as I am, I must admit it was very romantic. I don't think we could wipe the grin off our faces from that day on, and I can't help but smile even now as I think back on that very moment. I am most certainly a fortunate person for having felt that and for having such memories that put a smile on my face...

This may sound very strange, but I've had people ask me if I regret anything in life, and I know exactly what they are asking me, I don't really blame them. We humans are a very curious sort, people want to know exactly what and how I'm feeling deep down, they want to know if this experience, this pain has made me think and wonder about some decisions I've made in my life...
Well, here's the truth of it... I regret nothing, how can I regret a decision that has brought me so much happiness in my life, that has filled it with so much love? Every moment we spent together was full and every memory I have of him gives me warmth and a smile... Would I rather not have known him? Would I rather missed out on all the love and joy and in turn not have all this pain now?... NO... I choose this pain, and I would choose this life over and over again, because it was worth it, he was worth it... The only part of all this that gives me the greatest pain, is seeing our boys grow up without a dad..

But look... we can not look at ourselves as unfortunate people, or that our fate was of such sadness, that the road to our destiny led us to this point, and that life dealt us a bad hand.. No, I tell people all the time who look at us with such sad eyes, and feel sorry for us... I tell them that we are fortunate to have had and loved him, our boys had an amazing father, one that showed them how to be strong men, how to love and live a full life. They have an entire library of memories and examples they can pull from when they need to cross a path in their lives, he will be with them every step of the way, by recalling his actions and the way he lived his life, they too will grow up to be wonderful people, such that he would be proud of... as for me, well I do consider myself fortunate. I could have married someone else yes, and perhaps not have found myself as a widow at 41, but would I have had such a great marriage, such a great life, with so much love?
I doubt that... we were soul mates and as sad as it is to have had such a short run, it warms my heart to know that it was a great run. And believe me this thought never crosses my mind, I never wonder about how or what could have been, and I find it very strange that people actually do ask, perhaps those are the ones who have not found the kind of happiness we have.

Yes that's right we may be hurting, and our souls are a bit broken and we can never really mend those cracks, and the pain will never go away completely either, but his presence in our hearts and minds makes us happy people, so full of life and love...if only we had him just for a bit longer....

I choose this pain over not ever knowing him... I'm glad we kissed that afternoon nineteen years ago sitting on the warm sand, and though my tears flow now as I write .... I would not have had it any other way... I would take this path over and over again...even knowing the outcome, because the journey would be worth it..