INTERVIEWER: Can you describe the events of that morning?
TOMOYASU: I left home with my daughter, Masako. She was on her way to work. I was going to see a friend. An air-raid warning was issued. I told Masako I was going home. She said, “I’m going to the office.” I did chores and waited for the warning to be lifted.
I folded the bedding. I rearranged the closet. I cleaned the windows with a wet rag. There was a flash. My first thought was that it was the flash from a camera. That sounds so ridiculous now. It pierced my eyes. My mind went blank. The glass from the windows was shattering all around me. It sounded like when my mother used to hush me to be quiet.
When I became conscious again, I realized I wasn’t standing. I had been thrown into a different room. The rag was still in my hand, but it was no longer wet. My only thought was to find my daughter. I looked outside the window and saw one of my neighbors standing almost naked. His skin was peeling off all over his body. It was hanging from his fingertips. I asked him what had happened. He was too exhausted to reply. He was looking in every direction, I can only assume for his family. I thought, I must go. I must go and find Masako.
I put my shoes on and took my air-raid hood with me. I made my way to the train station. So many people were marching toward me, away from the city. I smelled something similar to grilled squid. I must have been in shock, because the people looked like squid washing up on the shore.
I saw a young girl coming toward me. Her skin was melting down her. It was like wax. She was muttering, “Mother. Water. Mother. Water.” I thought she might be Masako. But she wasn’t. I didn’t give her any water. I am sorry that I didn’t. But I was trying to find my Masako.
I ran all the way to Hiroshima Station. It was full of people. Some of them were dead. Many of them were lying on the ground. They were calling for their mothers and asking for water. I went to Tokiwa Bridge. I had to cross the bridge to get to my daughter’s office.
INTERVIEWER: Did you see the mushroom cloud?
TOMOYASU: I didn’t see the mushroom cloud. I was trying to find Masako.
INTERVIEWER: But the cloud spread over the city?
TOMOYASU: I was trying to find her. They told me I couldn’t go beyond the bridge. I thought she might be back home, so I turned around. I was at the Nikitsu Shrine when the black rain started falling from the sky. I wondered what it was.
INTERVIEWER: Can you describe the black rain?
TOMOYASU: I waited for her in the house. I opened the windows, even though there was no glass. I stayed awake all night waiting. But she didn’t come back. About 6:30 the next morning, Mr. Ishido came around. His daughter was working at the same office as my daughter. He called out asking for Masako’s house. I ran outside. I called, “It’s here, over here!” Mr. Ishido came up to me. He said, “Quick! Get some clothes and go for her. She is at the bank of the Ota River.”
I ran as fast as I could. Faster than I was able to run. When I reached the Tokiwa Bridge, there were soldiers lying on the ground. Around Hiroshima Station, I saw more people lying dead. There were more on the morning of the seventh than on the sixth. When I reached the riverbank, I couldn’t tell who was who. I kept looking for Masako. I heard someone crying, “Mother!” I recognized her voice. I found her in horrible condition. And she still appears in my dreams that way. She said, “It took you so long.”
I apologized to her. I told her, “I came as fast as I could.”
It was just the two of us. I didn’t know what to do. I was not a nurse. There were maggots in her wounds and a sticky yellow liquid. I tried to clean her up. But her skin was peeling off. The maggots were coming out all over. I couldn’t wipe them off, or I would wipe off her skin and muscle. I had to pick them out. She asked me what I was doing. I told her, “Oh, Masako. It’s nothing.” She nodded. Nine hours later, she died.
INTERVIEWER: You were holding her in your arms all that time?
TOMOYASU: Yes, I held her in my arms. She said, “I don’t want to die.” I told her, “You’re not going to die.” She said, “I promise I won’t die before we get home.” But she was in pain and she kept crying, “Mother.”
INTERVIEWER: It must be hard to talk about these things.
TOMOYASU: When I heard that your organization was recording testimonies, I knew I had to come. She died in my arms, saying, “I don’t want to die.” That is what death is like. It doesn’t matter what uniforms the soldiers are wearing. It doesn’t matter what uniforms the soldiers are wearing. It doesn’t matter how good the weapons are. I thought if everyone could see what I saw, we would never have war anymore.
Excerpt from “Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close,” by Jonathan Safran Foer, pages 187-189.
If you are aware of a state which you call “is”, or reality, or life, this implies another state called isn’t. Or illusion, or unreality, or nothingness or death. There it is. You can’t know one without the other. And so as to make life poignant, it’s always going to come to an end. That is exactly, don’t you see, what makes it lively. Liveliness is change, it is motion, and motion is going to fall out and be gone.
Everybody should do in their lifetime, sometime, two things. One is to consider death. To observe skulls and skeletons, and to wonder what it will be like to go to sleep and to never wake up, never. That is […] a very gloomy thing for contemplation. But it’s like manure. Just as manure fertilizes the plants and so on, so the contemplation of death, and the acceptance of death is very highly generative of creating life. You get wonderful things out of that.
(Quotes by Alan Watts. Song is “Hungry Ghost” by STRFKR.)
“I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
-Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903 in Letters to a Young Poet
You and I are all as much continuous with the physical universe as a wave is continuous with the ocean.
Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.
“The first thing we do arriving on Earth is we breathe in; the last thing we will do is breathe out. The breath not only helps propel oxygenated blood filled with nutrients and all great goodies around our entire bodies, breath is also the transportation system for our prana, the vital life force. When we breathe we become conscious.” – Vanessa Burger, yoga instructor.
I can be super emotional. I honestly didn’t even know this about myself until about a year ago, when my dad (who I call a “zen master”) said something like “Sometimes I feel like maybe I’m a bad person, because I’m not as deeply affected by things as you are.” That put it into perspective to me, for I find my dad to be incredibly empathetic. I am empathetic even with situations that don’t relate to me personally. The best example of this is here, but I also deeply connect with this character’s description here, and the long quote in large font here.
I’ve noticed that in the last few months I’ve barely cried. I was a little depressed in the winter/spring. (I should mention, that depression to me is not sadness, it’s absence of feeling, which makes me feel alive and connected.) It was mainly winter blues, but partly because I have no fucking idea what I’m doing with my life – something I now find to be a blessing.
You don’t think in depression that you’ve put on a gray veil and are seeing the world through the haze of a bad mood. You think that the veil has been taken away, the veil of happiness, and that now you’re seeing truly. It’s easier to help schizophrenics who perceive that there’s something foreign inside of them that needs to be exorcised, but it’s difficult with depressives, because we believe we are seeing the truth. (Soloman)
I cried on March 31st when I shared the dullness I was experiencing with my dad, finally admitting to myself that I need to take my emotional health into my own hands and get myself to a better place. I stopped distracting myself with TV and wine, I surrounded myself with great friends, and I started meditating and doing yoga. And miraculously, on April 17th I found myself literally dancing in the woods out of happiness! It’s the fastest and most dramatic recovery I’ve ever experienced!
I cried on my birthday. The good kind of cry. I used to get bummed out by my bday, because I think of it as a day where I should get to do what I want, yet that’s rarely the case. This year was one of my fave bdays ever! I threw myself a small party and had friends over for champagne cocktails, pizza, and cake. Exactly what I wanted. See how happy I am? My dear friend Ikram gave me a card and wrote this poem in it. All the feels took over me!
Was passt, das muss sich ründen,
by Adolph Selmnitz (see full poem here)
What suits has to round/form each other
I’m so embarrassed to share this, but this video of Obama singing Amazing Grace at the funeral for those killed in the Charleston church massacre made me tear up at my desk. I tend to remain neutral to politicias. But Obama’s been pretty damn impressive. This video made me cry because it’s so rare that a person in a powerful leadership position shows such genuine empathy. All politicians kiss babies, but this dude mourned in public. Now that I think about it, he’s been the most authentic politician I’ve been exposed to. He adheres to his values despite the potential dissent from the masses. That’s admirable.
Selmnitz, Adolph. Den Mond Wollt’ Ich Dir Schenken Poetische Präsente. Comp. Hans-Peter Kraus and Werner Schmitt. on Demand, 2015. Print.
Solomon, Andrew. “Depression, the Secret We Share.” TED. Oct. 2013. Web. 30 June 2015. <https://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_solomon_depression_the_secret_we_share?language=en>.
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