Finding Support in “Ties of a Smile”
In the fall of 2009, sorrow came to our family. Our daughter, Mizuho, unable to move her arms or legs, unable to speak, unable to eat without our help, but always, always, keeping a smile, left us for heaven at the age of 24. Her last moment was, in a word, beautiful. She shed a tear, and without words, said to her mother, “I had difficulties in my body. But I was never unfortunate. Thank you, Mom, for taking care of me all this time.” Her tear was a complete expression of gratitude to her mother.
The Kobe Shimbun Newspaper carried an article about her, “Miss Mizuho Yamanaka in Sasayama passed away. She lived with severe cerebral palsy. Her constant smile remains in our hearts.” Even now, her smile comes up in my mind every day and I feel my love for her. I brought Mizuho with me when I had lectures. The way she showed the value of life with her presence made me very proud. Now she sleeps in a peaceful cemetery with a view of rural Sasayama.
On her grave stone, a poem is inscribed, which I made next to her bed in the hospital. “We’re all connected in life. Family ties, such a nice word, isn’t it? We’ll live together under one roof. I’m always at your side, always holding your hand in our hearts.” Mr. Hiroyuki Ishida, a singer/song writer in Kobe has set it to music and so it continues to spread.
Twenty years have passed since the Great Hanshin Earthquake. I can understand those who have lost a precious child and are still holding on to their dear one in their hearts. I’m not afraid of death as I was before, thinking now that I’ll see my daughter again in heaven. Until that day, when she welcomes me with her smile, I hope to extend the ties that Mizuho has brought me.