Six months later, Michiko followed our daughter. It struck us without warning. I spotted it when she started coughing, just as Midori had. Fear ate up my soul when I first heard her. The whole ordeal with Midori-chan began to flash before me. Please don�t let it be what I think it is. Please don�t let it be what I think it is. Please don�t let it be what I think it is! No! I tried to make myself stay calm as I asked her important questions.

�Michiko,� I said. �Are you feeling�?� She shook her head.

�No,� she said. I tried to breathe out in relief. But then, she paused. �I don�t think so�� she said. I froze and quickly grabbed her shoulders.

�What do you mean?� I asked desperately. �Think really hard.� Michiko tried to stay positive.

�It�s probably not that,� she said.

�You don�t know that!� I cried. �Look at what happened to Midori-chan all because we didn�t catch it in time!� She gently stroked my cheek.

�Iwao-kun,� she whispered. �I know you are scared. We just don�t have any of the facts yet. We�ll have to wait and see what it is first.� I shook my head at her hard.

�No!� I cried.

�Iwao-kun?� she asked. I quickly grabbed her by the arms.

�No!� I yelled again. �I don�t want to lose you! I don�t want you to die!� My wife gently shushed me. I closed my mouth and looked at her with big eyes. Michiko gave me a tiny smile.

�It�ll be okay.�

�No, it won�t!�

�Yes, it will!� she argued.

I closed my mouth. The only time she fights me this hard is when she has a strong counter-argument against me. I waited for her to come out and say it.

�How?� I challenged.

�We don�t know what is in store for us. We don�t know if I could actually die. We don�t know anything,� she reasoned.

�So, what are you saying?� I asked.

�I�m saying don�t give up hope yet. We can try and beat this thing.�

�And how do we do that?�

Michiko nuzzled her nose close to mine. �By any way possible.� I tried to make myself smile just to humor her. I still had my own pain and doubts beating around in the back of my mind. I knew this was all just an act to make stop worrying so much about her. But, I already saw the fear and despair in her eyes before she even started to lie.

Pretty soon, the same illness that claimed Midori-chan began to surface within my wife. She ended up in the hospital just like our daughter did. This go around, I was hesitant to try out my skills. Many thoughts raced through my mind as I watched her lie there helplessly in her bed. What if they won�t work on her just like they didn�t on Midori-chan? I stared at my hands as they shook before my eyes. I almost didn�t want to do it. But, I didn�t want to lose Michiko too. Death already took my daughter; I didn�t want it to take my wife as well. Besides, she was sound asleep before me. I drew in a heavy breath, taking a quick look around to make sure I was alone. When it was clear, I took in another breath.

Here goes, I thought. I held my hand over her chest and began to chant. Just like with Midori-chan, I felt nothing. My heart pounded again my own chest. No! Not again! I can�t lose someone close to me! Don�t fail me now! I desperately kept trying to heal my dear wife. I kept trying until everything just gave out within me. I sat there with nothing left inside of me. This was the priest that saved his community from dying and yet he couldn�t save his own family? Is this Buddha�s punishment for playing God? I collapsed on top of my wife in bed. She had lost her will to live and I lost my faith all in one go.

In six months� time, Michiko joined Midori-chan in Meifu. They both left me in my growing misery. Michiko lay in her casket looking just as beautiful as on our wedding day in her bridal kimono and accessories. I didn�t stay for the whole funeral. I practically avoided everyone in the village afterwards. It proved too much for me. I had nothing without Michiko and Midori-chan in my life. My whole world had been robbed from me within a year. I resigned as a priest and cut all ties with our friends. I put the house up for sale and quietly moved away during the night. I haven�t been fine ever since.