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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 4, December 2018
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Chen-ou Liu’s "The Distance of Love," A Commentary by Gerry Jacobson

Liu’s piece pierces me: brings up the guilt. I walked out of my London home at 18, caught a train to Tilbury dock, emigrated to Australia, never saw my mother again.

I don’t recall she ever said she loved me. Her hands were full with younger children. But then I’m sure I never said I loved her. But loved I was. It must have been so. Throughout life I’ve had that resilience: that feeling I was a little prince, cherished and admired.

How was it for her watching me stride off down the street with a rucksack on that grey winter’s day? Ostensibly going away for two years; in fact, forever. She died when I was 30, and I was another world away in the sunshine of Papua New Guinea. I don’t think I grieved. Just got on with my busy life: work, marriage, children.

And later when my own fledglings left our nest it was a chaotic time. My work was in demand. It was the 80s, the 90s, and teenagers entered a world of binge drinking, music, drugs, that I knew nothing about. And none of the three was on the straight path of school-uni-job. When they left home I think I swallowed my grief and just trusted. And hoped.

I’m grateful to Chen-ou for opening up these feelings. And I’ve said nothing about his piece (which is reprinted below). Perhaps I don’t need to. It’s perfect.

the spirit travels
at the speed of a horse
so they say -
mine has been galloping
far too fast


Chen-ou Liu

The Distance of Love

for my mother

on the phone
I murmur to mother,
I love you . . .
an ocean away
the silence at her end

Coming back home after my first day in grade one, I asked, Mom, do you love me?

I love you this much, she said with a laugh, holding her hands half a meter apart.

Now, forty years later, living in another country, I still can't fathom the depth of that L word inscribed in my mother's heart.

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