Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Friday, July 18, 2008

When Blue Turns Black

First a haiku:


ajisai wa
kuroku natta yo
mou tsukita

The hydrangea
Has turned black.
It's exhausted.

(It really has turned black, too. That's what's really sad...)

Well, the good news is that, for the first time in AGES, I actually have a summer vacation that really is a vacation. The bad news is that I had to quit EVERYTHING to do it. I was supposed to help with summer school. I was supposed to help with the music club. I was supposed to help with the Kashima Philharmonic. I was supposed to have a couple of musical performances.

I was supposed to go to Australia again for a couple of weeks with another group of students and teachers. (I even got the uniform for this year's trip...a BLUE polo shirt with the logo of Ye Olde Academy on it...which I'll be wearing at home.)

Everything is off the list now. Making the announcements today was extremely painful...and yet also strangely relieving. I probably feel worst for all the people I'm inconveniencing by this. I'm not the sort that feels good about ditching his responsibilities on others. People are being very understanding, and yet...the looks on their faces and the tone of their voices after I break the news that I've just been forced to let them down not something I'm going to live down very easily.

Even so, the worst news by far is the reason why I have all this free time now. My mother-in-law has now outlived the doctor's worst expectations, but... She is still lucid, still sharp, even showing some energy in her talk, but... The problem is that it's impossible to ignore the extremely dark color of her face, a hallmark of advanced cancer. We've been told to encourage her as much as possible, try to give her reasons to go on living, but we're forced to do it while looking at proof that it just ain't gonna happen. How long can we keep up this pretense? And should we even keep it up in the first place?

Yes, more than one BLUE hydrangea of summer has turned black. And they're all exhausted.


  • Family tops work. Maybe people at the school will learn to stand on their own feet for a change.

    Cancer sucks. Comfort your mother-in-law as well as you can. Sometimes the grim reality needs to have its ass kicked by love for as long as it can be done.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 1:14 AM  

  • I hope your mother-in-law can still understand how much she is loved and cared for.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:40 AM  

  • Good. Make a point of saying no a little more often and live a little. Mother will be "home" soon. When she sees "light" you be sure to explain what the light is...

    By Anonymous Dave, at 8:52 AM  

  • Don
    I know you and your family have already had to deal with more than your share of this sort of thing, so I appreciate it.

    Actually, she seems to be feeling suspicious right now. The fact that at least one family member has been with her at the hospital round the clock is different from before. The fact that all these relatives have started showing up from all over is even worse. I don't think anyone has broken the news to her directly, but she's already starting to ask questions and make snide comments about it. I think she'd rather everyone would just knock it off...

    The problem with saying "no" too much is having to deal with the fallout later. I'm sure there will be a lot of it, too, even though people are being very understanding. That's kind of the way things tend to work in Japan; even if people understand the reason for your letting them down, it's still a blight on your reputation.

    Case in point: I once had to drop out of a performance by a jazz combo, one I'd done every year for several years, because I'd caught a nasty case of the flu and was in bed with a high fever, delirious, both ears leaking fluid, and shaking from nerve infections. They haven't invited me back since. The fact that the sickness was beyond my control wasn't the issue. The issue was that I had let them down. That's why you sometimes get people working themselves to death here.

    As for the "light", Buddhism already has a name for it, and I'm sure she's quite familiar with it.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 8:27 PM  

  • This too the Buddha knew.

    From this suffering, may we all deepen our love for others.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 10:28 PM  

  • I am almost offended to find how impossible it is to say no and "let people down" in Japan. And yet everyone goes through family crises, so they ought to understand.

    Sending positive thoughts your way, and I hope your MIL gets over her suspicion and doesn't suffer too much.

    By Blogger Olivia, at 4:40 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger PinkPanther, at 5:18 PM  

  • Apart from comfort and take care of your MIL, the most important thing is:
    you and your family members must take care of yourselves health.

    By Anonymous PinkPanther, at 5:22 PM  

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