DISCLAIMER FROM THE TRANSLATOR: While I speak both English and Japanese fluently, I know nothing about medicine. These are rough translations made through tears (i.e., sometimes while bawling). Please take all medical details in particular with a grain of salt. These translations have not been proofread and will be revised on a later date.

Please note that I am NOT in contact with the original author, who has given general permission for translation in one of her entries.

I would appreciate it if everyone can refrain from posting these entries elsewhere and to share this address <http://jkts-english.blogspot.com> instead, as I will be making revisions to each entry directly (addresses for individual entries may change if I revise their titles).



Start reading here: 1) To the affected areas.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

For my new friends in Minamisanriku-cho.

[October 15, 2011 6:24PM]

I went to Minamisanriku in the end of September to perform health check-ups and to help with night shifts at a hospital.  The role of medical workers seems to have changed quite a bit from the period right after the earthquake and now.
When I climbed up an embankment at Minamisanriku and looked across the landscape, there was nothing but an infinite expanse of vacant land and some piles of rubble here and there.
I also passed by a government building where many staff fell victim to the disaster.  It was much larger than it appeared on TV, so large that you really have to look up at it.

There were very many people who requested check-ups, but they went on without a hitch.  I also made rounds in temporary housing and provided check-ups and other assistance.  It seems like the general environment has improved since the period immediately after the disaster, but there are many, many problems ahead of us, such as improvements that need to be made for babies and the elderly to live comfortably through the winter, or the need to provide vaccination for free in the affected areas.
I am currently back in Tokyo, working on a report on these problems to send to the government.

During this visit, I met a woman my own age who lost her husband, her child(ren), her parents, her sister and her brother-in-law, her house, her workplace, her coworkers, everything—all at once in just a single instance on 3.11.
She said to me that “Even now, after half a year and with so many people giving me encouragement, I still can’t put myself in a positive mindset.  Right now, I’m just living because I have no choice.  I want to hurry up and join them in the afterlife, but everyone left so much work for me—Buddhist ceremonies for the first anniversary of their death, the third anniversary of their death, and so on, and as long as I keep on taking care of these duties, I’ll be able to meet them on the other side some day.  But I wonder why I didn’t die along with them.  It’s my biggest regret.”
Her devastation is far beyond the imagination of someone like myself who is living such a normal and carefree life.  I was at a loss for words as she stared at her cell phone and cried, saying that “Most of the people in my address book are dead.”
As I sat beside her, rubbing her back, the words that I was finally able to find were, “Let’s be friends!”  I had her add my contact information to her cell phone that had been stopped in time, and we made a little promise for her to visit me any time, if she ever feels like it.  I was truly happy to see her smile, even just for a split second.

I always thought that the people at the disaster site were so strong, but I understand now that it’s because they need to plant their feet firmly on the ground in order to keep themselves from being crushed by a reality beyond their control.  But keeping up the fight is terribly tiring, and I feel that we are entering a period when ‘people’ or ‘music’ or ‘books’ or ‘pets’ or ‘memories’ that can provide emotional support are especially important.
It’s not easy to support someone, but I’m sure there are things that can be communicated through even the simplest of words and actions, and this experience has made me want to be someone who supports and is supported by someone else.
As someone who is broken easily, even by the tiniest things, I will surely have much to learn from my encounter with these people who have the courage to keep looking straight ahead even in the midst of such deep sadness and devastation.
And given all this, I have renewed my intent to keep on doing whatever I can, in the form of medical assistance.  For a restoration to come even just a day earlier, and for myself.

The people of Minamisanriku-cho said this to me:
“The hardest part of all this is that such a tragic disaster is gradually being forgotten.”

Winter is coming soon.  There must be much, much more that we could do.

By the way: I enjoyed the Dreams Come True concert very much!!
They opened the show with “Nando demo”, and as soon as I heard its first notes, I was crying so hard that all my make-up came off.  My memories of those days when that song gave me the courage to go on, [as I worked in the disaster site] with rolled-up sleeves, came back to me with intense clarity.
I remembered those nights when there were so many things that we couldn’t do anything about, no matter how hard we worked; how I would keep on telling myself that something might change tomorrow, that a miracle might occur, whenever I was about to give up; those drivers who transported supplies and medical equipment without a wink of sleep; all those SDF troops who were working so, so hard that I wish we could give every single one of them a People’s Honor Award; all my friends and family who supported me; and all the people in Rikuzen-Takata whose hearts are still connected with mine.  I cried so much that the people around me started worrying.
I felt so encouraged by all these wonderful songs, and I cried and I smiled, and I was so full of gratitude for how I am so fortunate to be able to come to this concert, that it isn’t something to be taken for granted.

Translated June 5, 2012.
Original entry in Japanese: 南三陸町で出会った友よ。

1 comment:

  1. Thank thank thank you so much for translating this for us. I am touched by her words and am very grateful to be able to read it. Thank you again!