By 1975, my world began to fall apart. Not in one swipe, mind you. I lost my family piece by piece. First, I lost my Midori-chan.
It all started with a cough. We couldn�t figure out what was wrong with her. It was the middle of summer and we lived in the heavier part of Kobe, but she kept coughing.
�What�s the matter, baby?� Michiko asked her one afternoon. �Are you sick, honey?� She put her hand to her forehead. Midori shook her head.
�I�m okay,� she said. That wasn�t enough to ease our concern. The next morning, we took Midori-chan to the doctor. They couldn�t find anything wrong with her.
�She�s a healthy little girl,� they told us.
�Then why does she keep coughing like this?� Michiko asked.
�Maybe it�s allergies,� the doctors said. Instinct told us otherwise, deep in our gut. Michiko and I decided to monitor our daughter for ourselves.
Two weeks later, our fears were confirmed. Midori-chan�s health started to get worse and worse. She used to be a happy, upbeat; an energetic child. But lately, she had changed. Midori-chan was tired all the time. Her body temperature shot up to almost 100. Her vision became blurry.
�My head hurts,� Midori-chan whimpered to us many times. Things got worse when she couldn�t walk straight anymore. The many trips to the doctor didn�t help either. They couldn�t figure out what was wrong with her. Pretty soon, things took a darker turn when Michiko was taking her to another visit to the doctor. Midori-chan hadn�t even gotten to the door when she collapsed to the ground.
�Midori-chan!� Michiko cried, reaching for Midori-chan. Our little angel ended up in the hospital for the rest of her short life.
Yet, I wasn�t going to give up on her so easily. One night when I visited her in the hospital, I took a quick look around. I drew in a deep breath.
Here goes, I thought. I held my hand over her small chest and began to chant. Usually, I would feel a warmth, of the person getting better. But this time�
I paused in surprise. Why isn�t this working? I drew in another breath and tried harder.
Nothing is happening. I kept trying. Yet no matter how hard I wished it to be, nothing happened. I finally stopped due to exhaustion. I looked down at my little girl. I saw my daughter was in the same condition before me as previously. I couldn�t understand it. Why weren�t my powers working to save her? Why weren�t they working when I needed them the most? Another terrifying thought then crossed my mind.
What if I�m losing my powers? What if I�m finally being punished for healing that sparrow that Juriko killed years ago? My eyes trailed down to my precious little angel. My hand tightly wrapped around hers.
�I�m so sorry, baby,� I whispered. �I have failed you. I�m so sorry. I�m so sorry.� I broke down into tears by at her bedside. Her health kept getting worse and worse as the days wore on. The doctors even suspected that she wouldn�t make it. My wife and I didn�t want to believe it, but that reality grew painfully strong as 1975 passed into 1976. Michiko and I ended up celebrating Midori-chan�s seventh birthday in the hospital.
�Hey sweetie,� I whispered to her. �Happy birthday. We brought Momo with us.� I handed her the little doll. Midori-chan loved Momo to death. I bought this little doll for her on her third birthday. This doll was a beauty. She wore a little purple and gold fan kimono with black geta, white tabi, and purple and gold hairclips in her long black hair. I moved Momo closer to Midori-chan�s face.
�Hi Midori,� I said in the high-pitched girly voice that my daughter loved so much. �I miss you at home. I�m so lonely without you. I can�t wait for you to get better so that we can play together again.� I made the doll give her a little kiss on the cheek. I noticed Midori-chan try to give me a little smile. Oh, let me tell you: that really made my day for the first time in months! I leaned in close to my angel�s little ear. �I�ll leave Momo here with you, okay?� I whispered. I set the doll down next to her and moved aside to let Michiko see her.
�Hey baby,� she whispered. �Happy birthday. I bought you present.� My wife reached into a big pink and yellow gift bag and picked out a fluffy teddy bear.
�Happy birthday,� Michiko whispered. She set the teddy bear next to Momo on the bed. My wife kissed her on the forehead. I did the same thing. The hospital let us stay through the night. You know, I had originally planned to take Midori-chan to the zoo for her birthday that year. Maybe see the aquarium afterwards. That plan went down the drain.
Michiko and I spent the last few days of Midori-chan�s life in the hospital. Then on the day after my birthday, the gods took her away from us.
September 15th, 1976.
The funeral went on until sundown. My little Midori-chan looked like a sleeping doll in her casket. We dressed her in a white gown with no shoes. I bought that for her the day before she went to the hospital. It was such a shame that this was going to be the only time she would get to wear it. Her hair was all the way down to back. Michiko put little red flower clips in our angel�s bangs to complete the look. We put Momo in her tiny hands to give her a little company on her journey to Meifu. I wanted to put Michiko-chan�s bear in with her, but I changed my mind at the last minute and hid it away in our attic.
Seven years old, so young that it caused the whole village pain. Everyone that knew us poured their hearts out to us. Midori-chan�s classmates all cried during the funeral. Michiko and I sat away from the crowd near the back. I couldn�t bring myself to perform the ceremony no matter how much I wanted to. I have performed funerals for years, but I just couldn�t do this one. It was just too much. I broke down crying in the end. So, Michiko and I sat silently, unable to deal with our misery. Michiko�s eyes looked worn out with all the tears that had been shed for the past couple of days. I felt like collapsing from trying to keep it together on the outside for so long. It�s so painful when it�s your child. It drains it all out of you in the end.
They cremated her at night. Michiko and I watched on, helpless. The golden yellow flames feasted on our small child and her doll. I knew it would be heart-breaking for any child who has passed. But, it really hurt worse when it was my own. My pain didn�t stop there. That was only half of the loss I would come to suffer that year.