NOTES TO MY DAUGHTER

WRITTEN BY YURI CHUNG
I earned my BFA in Graphic Design from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Lived and worked in NYC for a few years after college and came back to LA in 2009. I have been working as a freelance graphic designer in Los Angeles for the past 5 years. I’m also the Co-founder of A Happy Talent, a creative studio focused on design, craft and production of printed matter. I have a dog named Elvis. I love ice cream and hot dogs. And corn dogs. I love all dogs.
Notes To My Daughter

This is an excerpt from Yuri Angela Chung’s series, Notes To A Friend written about her experience with breast cancer after being diagnosed at the age of 25, and again with stage 4 at the age of 30. Notes To My Daughter was written by Yuri’s parents, and graciously shared with ENDPAIN as part of our month on Parenting. You can learn more about Yuri in an interview we did with her on her experience with breast cancer and be sure to check out the complete series Notes To A Friend.

Winter

There is a photo of you and I. The smile on my face mirrored by the smile on yours—my daughter, my baby. This image represents a moment of complete joy in my life. It is a feeling I cannot forget; a happiness that I have carried with me in my heart for 30 years.

My love, my daughter, my baby!

Today, I cannot look at your face.
Because I am so sorry...
Because I am so grateful...

Sometimes my heart hurts so much that it feels like it is being teared again and again from my chest. But how can I ever dare to compare this hurt to the fear and pain you must be feeling...

My love, my daughter!

We are just walking a rough road on a long, cold winter’s day.

If we stand by each other, think good thoughts, and march towards a brighter future together—this too shall pass. This long, cold winter will pass. And a warm, spring day will greet us soon. I know this to be true in my heart.

I love you so dearly and so much; my daughter, my baby.

Love, your dad—who is so happy because of you.

December 2, 2015

From A Mother

My beautiful daughter!

I haven’t been able to sleep ever since the day you left me your notes on my desk. The pain and hurt that we all tried so desperately to bury in our hearts—in one moment, all at once—came rushing to the surface. There are no words, no living expression, that can describe the heartache I felt while reading your letters.

As your mother, who knows your pain better than anyone else, it breaks my heart that there is nothing I can do for you. And I am so sorry.

There is nothing I would not do if it means that you will be healthy again. Make me sick. Give me a sickness that is a hundred times, a thousand times more painful than yours. Take me. If I could, I would give you my life in a heartbeat...

You came into this world more precious than any child. And there hasn’t been a day since you were born that I haven’t prayed—so I resented the heavens and cursed the world when you first met this illness. As painful and as hard as it was, I swallowed my grief and began to pray for you, my daughter, again. You went into remission and I felt as if I was walking on thin ice. Four years passed and I desperately waited for that last year of remission to come and go. Then, what we feared most became a reality. And again, your father and I fell into a deep grief. But you and I know, that our pain will never amount to yours. My daughter’s fear. Her pain. Her heartache. The unwanted attention and glances from strangers. Oh, how I curse the heavens.

My daughter, my beautiful daughter!

You have somehow uncovered my deepest thoughts, worries, and pain—and I am sorry that you have this baggage with you now. When the extraordinariness of a normal life that you dream of becomes yours, that is when I will pray again.

There is one wish that I have; one wish that only you can give me...

Whenever it may be—you must let me go first.

This one wish, is the greatest gift you can give to me. (Mind you, I plan on living a very long life—while enjoying all the fruitful ways you are going to pay it forward to me and your dad.)

My daughter! Even in the midst of all this sorrow, there is joy because you are surrounded by family and friends who love you more than life. And also, we are still happy. Our family is happy.

You have been given a task too great, too young. And yet, you have not once complained or spoken of your discomfort in any way. This pains me so much because I feel like this illness has forced you to grow up too fast. Too fast, too soon, too young.

My daughter, my love!

Let us continue to live hard and with zest. To the world’s end. Together, forever.

One night in December—to my daughter with love.

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