I got a postcard this evening. It says that one of the old acquaintances of mine died on December 11.
I first met her nearly 20 years ago. In those days I was involved in a certain group, and we both stayed for a workshop. She was perhaps seven or eight years older than me. She was beautiful, elegant, and quiet. She was always calm. She had a certain dignity and everybody liked and respected her. She was running a boutique with her husband in Kochi. I remember that she and I alone had breakfast on the same table. Though we did not have much time, she was eating the complete, Japanese style of dishes without changing her pace. Others went away hastily, but I did not want to leave her. She was putting on very beautiful arm bands made of pale pink chiffon cloth. I had never seen such elegant arm bands then. So her fashion sense became one of my models.
Afterward, her family and I exchanged New Year's greeting cards every year. They always sent us postcards of their family. At first, the family members were five; the couple and three kids. It grew bigger gradually when the children got married one by one. Then their grandchildren joined in. Such warm and friendly pictures of a family made me happy, while mine has been changing a lot.
Last year, seeing the picture of the year, I felt she looked tired. I thought she had gotten old. Of course, as I got old, even she could get old. I did not know she was ill.
On the postcard I received today, she was sitting at the center of her family: her children, children's spouses, grandchildren and her husband. They are all smiling happily. She is holding a bouquet and smiling, though it is apparent that she is suffering from a fatal illness. Her husband writes: "She chose this picture for the greeting card. It was taken on October 30. She discharged on 27 and could attend our grandson's birthday party. We started from two. It has become 13. Now she has gone, and our second daughter is expecting. It will be her reincarnated. We will keep what she created and protected with love and care."
I couldn't help crying.