Stories of the Strings - The Phoenix
I want to express my most sincere gratitude to Jackie Diy and Ria Jade for sharing this amazing Story of the Strings attached to custom bracelet pictured below.
This beautiful and heartfelt story is such a powerful example of family love, personal strength, overcoming hardship, dealing with mental health and the power of music in our lives.
Thank you, Anik, for sharing your love for your craft into creating Ria’s beautiful bracelet. For me, it isn’t just a piece of jewelry. It is her music and her story eternally captured in gold, copper, and wood. My Phoenix has risen and she flies high!
My youngest girl, Ria, has always been a very creative and passionate lover of the arts and her talent in music was very evident even at 4 years old when she first learned to play the piano. At 7 years old, she was invited by the BC Music Teachers Association to play at the Place Des Arts where she played her own jazz composition, “Who’s There?’.
Just when we thought everything was going to be a smooth ride, my little girl became the subject of bullying from when she turned 11. She was bullied for trying to get her music out there, bullied for our race and bullied for her size. It was a tough road and after she courageously survived bullying in her very young years, Ria developed an eating disorder which was at its peak when she was 16 years old. Her eating disorder was a result of being judged for her weight and size that has caused her severe, crippling panic attacks at the thought of numbers. For years, she couldn’t look at a calendar, journal, the scale, a tape measure, or any notebook with numbers. When she entered her High School campus for her math finals, the thought of seeing numbers caused her to crumble at the main door of the campus. From being a very eloquent TV and stage host, she developed a stutter whenever she was anxious, and she would curl into a ball for hours. Anxiety looked at me straight in the eye, but I never winced even as my eyes filled with hot tears the entire time knowing how bullying through words could cut you like a knife. When she was 15, my Ria expressed her pain through a video she created where she sang her own version of Titanium, including singing her own harmony:
Do I cry each time I watch this video? Yes, I do. I will forever cry but as she grows older and stronger, I become a prouder mom each time. I am proud to have been there with every step she took, with every dream she made, every fall she had, and every effort she took to rise again.
She always took pride in her musical work so despite her struggles, she was able to shine as a very talented singer and songwriter through the years. I saw how music has become her sanctuary throughout her ordeals. Her music kept her going until March 2017, after a major concert.
The year 2017 was tough and bleak for our family because it was when depression took over my girl’s passion for music and for all the things she loved. At 19 years old, she lost her interest in everything and was on the verge of giving up. It was one of the darkest moments of our lives, but we hang on to that tiny glimmer of light that with love and faith, she would heal. The house was quiet since March 2017 and for more than a year, I never heard her singing voice. Not a hum. Not a note. Not a whisper. She cried everyday and was in a constant world of despair and numbness. She couldn’t see the light no matter how bright the rays of the sun were. No one talked about music. Our conversations changed from her successful hosting and music events to puppies and her favorite little things. The smiles were scarce and fleeting. From walking on stage in front of huge crowds, we held her hand as we walked through the little trails at the park, appreciated the birds, and touched the wildflowers. They never knew what pain was. We did but we held on to the bond that has always kept us together: family.
As a very talented musician, Ria played the electric, acoustic, and bass guitar and the keyboard and was so much into producing her own music before her depression set in and during this time, silence has taken over and dust covered her equipment. As a mom, the hardest moment was seeing her favorite instruments gather dust and as I cleared the dust away, I cleared my tears away. Was I ever going to hear my Ria sing again? The question would linger in my thoughts each time and it hurt so much that it was painful to even hope if she was ever going to pick up her guitar again. She had 6 guitars and a powerful keyboard that have become unused pieces of a memory.
Then one night in 2018, I heard a quiet little voice inside her music room, and the soft plucking of the guitar strings. I listened carefully behind the closed door and heard her sing! I tiptoed away from the door and whispered to my husband and eldest daughter, “She is singing! She is singing again!” We spoke in very low tones for fear that it might stop her from once again living her dream. We dared not knock or mention what we just heard. A couple of days after that, she said, “Mom, I want to sing again.” Oh, how these words alone were already music to my ears! I missed a heartbeat as I choked on my tears. Was this a dream? The rollercoaster of emotions started to come --- surprise, doubt, pain, relief, frustration, fear, joy, ecstasy, fear again, etc... --- they flooded my mind but this time, I saw that tiny light grow brighter. I knew that her courage was coming through. As I hugged her, I said, “Welcome back, sweetheart. It’s been a while. You are your music, and your music is you!” I cried. Of course, I cried.
After going back to her roots in 2018 and 2019 doing very few gigs at open mics in and around Vancouver, she officially returned to the stage on September 17, 2021, in her first major concert. It was a long, healing process from 2018 as she constantly battled the trauma from depression but knowing that she was finally ready was more than enough for us to celebrate. I contacted my dear friend, Anik, owner of Do Re Mi Bracelets etc., and asked her to customize a bracelet for Ria -- one that symbolized her musical talent: a piece of jewelry that was made of guitar strings and a piano key. It was a welcome gift for a girl so musically talented and who has survived her battles without ever giving up. It would have been so difficult to find a gift that would speak about her love for music and Anik has helped me find that one work of art that only Ria could wear knowing it speaks of her!
This was her comeback concert and wow, that power will forever be there!