Saturday, September 04, 2010

now excuse me, I have to go.

First published on Associated Content . . .

Blogography pointed me towards one of the most beautiful farewell letters I have ever read. Japanese anime director Satoshi Kon recently passed away from pancreatic cancer. He left a moving message to his family and fans. After losing my beloved cousin Ann to ovarian cancer last May, so many of his words are especially poignant. But his words I think are also helping me deal with Ann's death.


I have been holding on to some hurt and disappointment at feeling held at arm's length in her final days and hours. My daughter and I shared so much of our daily lives with her that it struck an odd note to not be there at the end. I know these times are difficult for everyone, and I've been struggling with letting go of Ann and my own sense of letdown, but I never really felt how it must have felt for her until reading Satoshi Kon's apology to his friends and parents.
There are so many people that I want to see at least once (well there are some I don't want to see too), but if I see them I'm afraid that that the thought that "I can never see this person again" will take me over, and that I wouldn't be able to greet death gracefully . . . The more people wanted to see me, the harder it was for me to see them. What irony . . . I wanted most of the people I knew to remember me as the Satoshi that was full of life.
He seemed to have clarity to the last, and desired nothing more than to go home to die. I know from Ann's mom and brothers that she felt the same. I know that I would, too.
I just wanted to go home to my own house. The house where I live.

He seemed to get a brief respite from death and he used it wisely. My cousin had a (too brief for us) remission, but when the cancer came back it was clear it meant business. She once expressed to me that maybe she should have taken a trip or used that sixteen cancer-free months in a better way, but I assured her that she spent her time in the best way possible, living her life with the people she loved.
Afterwards, when I could think of nothing else but death, I thought that I did indeed die once then. In the back of my mind, the world "reborn" wavered several times . . . Now that my life-force had been restarted, I couldn't waste my time. I told myself that I'd been given an extra life, and that I had to spend it carefully.
I find it beautiful and fascinating that he may have indeed died the first time and that the remission was a rebirth. I know Ann would have loved that poetic idea as well.
It's so disrespectful to die before one's parents . . . I've felt as though I've lived more intensively than other people, and I think that my parents understood what was in my heart. 
How hard to leave those you love behind and how hard for all of them to let you go. But Satoshi Kon seems to have left this world, like Ann, very gracefully. I am sorry for any suffering that they had to endure. But I am forever grateful to have had Ann as a part of my life and my daughter's life, and to this stranger, this artist, for putting into words what also must have been in her heart.
Thank you, Satoshi Kon for helping me to take a further step on the road to acceptance. Domo arigato.
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