Tuesday 30 July 2013


Hidemi, sweetheart… why?? :(

I guess I’ll never have an answer to that.

And really, I don’t want an answer. There’s no answer that would change the fact of it being sad and wrong. You’re gone. I would rather just have you back.

All I have left are some of my most beautiful memories of Iya and Japan, wrapped around images of a lovely girl who laughed in my English classroom. Who hid from me in the gym. Who skied down snowy slopes beside me. Who shared meals with me, even shared the same birthday with me. Whose brother and sister were also my students and whose injured father I visited in hospital to chat with in broken English. A lovely girl who I watched dancing an ancient rain dance on a mountain top one Shikoku summer’s day. A lovely girl who cared to remember me.

When I caught up with you and your mother and brother in Kochi last year, eight years since I’d last seen you in the valley, I met a young woman who was fulfilling all the promise I’d seen in little Hidemi. Hard working. Devoted to family. Genuine. Beautiful in every way.

Almost a year to the day since then, I hear the news (via Facebook, how else?) that you’ve died. That you took your own life. And by the time I know about it, your ashes are already at rest. Shock, denial and anger all came and went pretty quickly. Now there is just helplessness, regret, grief.

Listen to me, writing as if I was an important part of your life. Your family and friends in Japan, dozens of people I’m sure, have more cause for grief than I. But there’s something about you, Hidemi, something about the cherished memories you are a part of, maybe the meaningless fact of our shared birthday, the relationship of teacher and student, the time I spent with your family in Iya… I don’t know. Whatever it is, Hidemi, I care about you and I was expecting to see you live and learn and love and grow old, as all people should.

So here I am, writing to you as if your eternal self might notice, sharing my grief with the world, doing what I can for now by laying a digital monument to your beautiful soul.

Google, if you or your algorithms are reading, please take my inadequate words and commit them to your ageless record of the passing world. Maybe this will help to increase awareness of the sad tally of youth suicide in Japan (and everywhere). Maybe Hidemi’s story will save someone else’s life. I live in hope.

Hidemi, sweetheart… this one’s for you.


It’s early
But rest well now
We’ll meet again