Hello dear readers, it’s been a little while. It’s taken me a bit of time to get back on the ol’ keyboard. You see, we lost someone important in our family recently. Late in October, my wife got a phone call from Japan, and she learned that her mother had died of heart problems plus advanced age.
I want to talk a little about my mother-in-law. She was born in Tokyo, but was a young lady during WWII and her family fled north with some other family, and she stayed there during the duration, living on war rations, etc. To this day, she refuses to eat udon soup anymore since she had so much of it in her youth. After the war, she returned to Tokyo, and eventually met her husband (my father in law). They had two kids together (my wife is the youngest). Since her husband was the youngest boy with 7-8 older sisters, my mother-in-law had to endure, I am told, frequent meddling and criticism by her older sisters-in-law, but she somehow was able to protect her family and my wife and her sibling grew up in a happy, stable life. In her later years, my mother-in-law frequently volunteered for years at her local Jodo Shinshu Buddhist temple, and after her passing, the temple really helped make her funeral a smooth, dignified one. She was greatly loved by her community.
For me, she was important to my wife and I in our early years together. We originally had to keep our relationship secret, since her parents were paying for her studies in the US, tuition, costs of living, etc. Eventually her mother figured out what was going on and came to the US herself to see what was going on. Later, when I formally asked to marry my wife, she was instrumental in getting her husband (future father-in-law) to accept. Further, after we got married, she helped us with the down payment of our first home. Needless to say, the life we lead now owes much to her.
I also found out yesterday, only after she passed way, that my mother-in-law was very fond of me as a son-in-law. She was a typical older-generation Japanese lady, so she was pretty stoic and hard to read as a foreigner, so I never really knew what she thought of me. My Japanese has never been fluent enough to have a proper conversation, and even if it was, I don’t know if she would have out just out and say it anyway. But my wife said that she scolded her (in a loving, jokey-Japanese sort of way) that I was a good husband so don’t mess it up. 😉 I wish I had known this a lot sooner. She was also very fond of her grandkids (my children) and was very supportive over the years.
Anyhow, back to the present, my wife was quite upset by her mother’s passing. Her mother was in her 80’s, and had been living in a nursing home since shortly before the Pandemic, so we hadn’t seen her in person for 3 years, but she was safe and in good care. We knew this would happen someday, but when the news came, my wife was pretty devastated. She couldn’t eat or sleep, and wanted to return to Japan as quickly. With a bit of luck, and some kind help, we were able to get a ticket to Japan the following day for her.
That was about two weeks ago. I’ve been taking care of the kids and the house, and still holding down my day job (working from home) since. It’s been a shock in many ways, losing “baba” (as the kids called her), and trying to keep everything together so the kids maintain some sense of stability. I have been sleeping about 4-5 hours a night, and have constant anxiety. Self-care like meditation, exercise, or observing ango Buddhist abstinence all went out the window within the first week. In fact, the grief over losing my mother-in-law didn’t really hit me until yesterday when I finally took some extra time off and finally had a minute to think. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve lost other family members recently, but although they were family, they weren’t close to us in the same way that “baba” had been. It’s been a hard loss for us all.
But the title of this post, Black Gives Way to Blue, taken from an awesome song by Alice n’ Chains, is a good summary of these past two weeks. The initial shock, panic and sense of helplessness has gradually settled down and we are getting back on our feet again. My wife has been working hard in Japan to help her older sibling and her dad get some closure, while the kids and I have adjusted to life with “mommy” (until Monday next week) and without “baba”.
That’s about all I have to say on the matter. I may or may not be able to follow up any subsequent posts in the near future. I just haven’t been able to think on such matters, but I think once life calms down again, I’ll be picking up the keyboard again before long.
So, thanks for your patience and take care all!