This is only a little bit about Isabella. It is a lot about loss.
Yesterday, on the 75th anniversary* of the bombing of Hiroshima, I spent some time going through my photos of the morning I spent there. The entire trip to Japan was a trip of a lifetime, mind, and I hope to be lucky enough to go again and retrace Ms Bird's footsteps into Hokkaido, but Hiroshima was something else entirely. I am certain that you can't go there and not be changed.
Our approach to the city from the Inland Sea.
From a first-person narrative collected in the museum.
Folded cranes in honor of Sadako Suzaki, who was two at the time of the bombing but would die ten years on from radiation poisoning.
The only structure left standing for miles in any direction. This river was full of bodies.
It was right about here that I had to have a bit of a sit-down and just cry. Our tour guide was telling us stories of parents trying to find their kids and vice-versa. And I couldn't help but imagine what that must have felt like, especially since my kids were half a world away at the time. And while this kind of sentiment is not my default setting, the land here remembers and wants us to remember, too.
A little Tai Chi on the riverbank.
Even as somber as the place is, people are still people. There is lightness and silliness always -- and there are always Japanese teens who make this exact gesture in every single picture I took.
I was going to close yesterday's post about Hiroshima with something profound, I'm sure. Or, at least, something about how I hoped to get there again and live out my Isabella Bird fantasies. I never got around to writing it, though. No good reason. It was one of those days where other projects to priority and then it was bedtime.
When I woke up this morning, I learned that J. Scott Van Der Meid had died. We went to college together. When my Scott and I got married, J. Scott was a groomsman. We hadn't seen in each in person for years -- life is like that sometimes -- but we remained connected by those invisible threads that develop in some relationships. You stay connected in ways you wouldn't imagine. For example, one of the lecturers on the Japan trip was one of J. Scott's friends from Brandeis and we all had a good laugh about the smallness of the world.
J. Scott and I planned to meet up during my Japan trip last May -- coincidently, he was there to visit his husband's family** and do some work for Brandeis -- but we couldn't figure out how to wind up in the same city at the same time. Japan was like a second home to him and I'd already mentioned that I wanted him to be the Ito to my Isabella, if only virtually, because two grown adults, one of whom who has a real 9-to-5 job,*** cannot get months off to wander around together but can definitely text.
There's just never enough time, you know?
Here's where I should write the profound thing that sums this all up. I've got nothing. Only this: tell the people in your life who are connected by those threads how much you appreciate them, even if you haven't seen each other in forever. Do it today. There is only now.
* "anniversary" makes it sound celebratory, which is not my intention.
** one of my favorite J. Scott stories involved his then-boyfriend-now-spouse and a penis festival, which is a thing in Japan.
*** him, not me.