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A HEALING JOURNEY. The last time we visited Japan, my mother died the next morning after we arrived in Osaka. My brothers said, “Huwag ka nang umuwi muna, ate. Anyway, nung nagpaalam kayong ba-byahe sa Japan, she told you: ‘“Mag-enjoy kayo ha!” (“Do not return immediately, sister. Remember that when you said you’ll go to Japan, she told you: ‘You enjoy your trip, okay?'”)

They believed we should honor her last wish, so that’s what we did. It was also her wish that she be cremated the same day of her death so we won’t be able to make it on time before cremation.

She didn’t want people looking at her lifeless body during the funeral viewing. I believe that this was her final act of love as she knew my father would suffer from seeing her in that state. They were so tight she had already foreseen that he would be crushed and would lose his own will to continue on with life. And that was exactly what happened on the day she died. He was inconsolable.

That was why she wished to be cremated right away. Even in death, she took care of my father. Although he remained very sad, he calmed down after that. Her final day of wake and goodbye ceremony was on the night of our return. She was buried the next day.

So all those times we were in Japan, I was a Walking Wounded. Dotonbori was Day One of our last visit in Osaka. The “enjoy your trip” wish wasn’t really followed. Who would have the energy to enjoy anything at all when a beloved mother died? Although Dutchie and I felt comforted and loved by our couple-friends who joined us in that trip, we still cannot remember a good memory of it.

This time, on our second visit together to Osaka, we made Dotonburi the 1st stop, as we did the first time. We will revisit these places and make new memories, in honor of my mother’s last wish. Now our hearts can smile as we remember Concepcion while walking these streets, enjoying all their kaleidoscopes.

>>> Next stop: Nara; then Kyoto.

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