Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I was in mourning for my mother  and refraining from New Year greetings.

She passed away on 7th last month. Here, it is  believed to take 49 days for the dead souls to go to the next world under the Buddhist belief. During this period, the bereaved hold rites with Buddhist monk every seven days for their successful journeys.
It was over last week and the new life begins for me and for her as well.

I don't have a strong faith in Buddhism, though not against it. I myself felt that she had  left this world and reached heaven much earlier than she would be believed to. Actually five days later after she passed away, I heard a music box sound for a split second, which was not used for quite a long time, when I was at home. I felt it was Mother! She came here to say thanks and good bye to me! I could imagine her rising up and up embraced with lights.

           A raigo; where Amida Buddha on a purple cloud accompanied by 25
         bodhisattavas coming down to the dead to welcome them to the heaven (national treasure, 1300-1400)

She was born in Kumamoto in Kyushu and raised  in Osaka and studied at a medical school in Tokyo. There were not so many women  of her age to get a professional job when society  was not  open enough for them to live their own lives like much later years.  I heard from her that  her father, once a medical officer, was  a progressive person  and encouraged her to work hard regardless of  genders.
She got married and started practicing as a dentist  in a small village, where  I was born.  She got  quite a lot of  culture-shock to live in such a closed community and sometimes missed the life in a big city.

Due to the complication after an operation of lumbar spinal stenosis three years ago, she became unable to walk. She had to spend two years in the hospitals and one year in the nursing home.
She found it so hard to accept the reality at first but came to terms with it. Naturally she was good at witty remarks  and carefree and had a bit of child-like innocence.
These past three years, my father, two sisters and I took turns in visiting her every day. Like I wrote somewhere, those were the days  that got me closer to her and to confirm a stronger bond of sisterhood. How I was thankful that I have sisters to help each other.

It was an urgent hospitalization. The chronic renal failure and heart failure took their tolls on her. For the last 20 days, she had to struggle against sufferings to get an eternal peace. We attended her and struggled together with her till the last moment. When she quietly closed her eyelids  and stopped breathing, I said to her from the bottom of my heart, " Have a good rest"

Before  she was placed in the casket,  painfully bruised marks on her hands or arms caused by the drips were covered with bandage and got dressed in her favorite kimono, got shampooed, and got light makeup. All was done with grace and dignity. How beautiful and peaceful she looked!
Looking at her in the casket, I cried and cried ...and cried.
That night, my daughter sat beside her and read her a book which she believed would lead her beloved grandmother to the heaven.

On Sunday my husband and I paid a belated visit to Isonokami Shrine in Tenri. It was not bad to be there without crowds after the hustle and bustle of the New Year's holidays.

Usually on January 15th, they burn New Year's decorations or things like old good-luck charms and pray for the happiness and prosperity throughout the year. (at Isonokami Shrine in Tenri)


Somehow roosters have settled here and have had field
days. They became icon of this shrine.

Now everything seems new and fresh to me. Mom, thank you for everything you did for me. I'm sure I'll see you again when there comes the right time.

Thank you readers for stopping by and reading my blog. I really appreciate every kind word you gave me last year. I'm looking forward to visiting you.


  1. Cosmos, hello.

     The flow of the cloud.
     The purge of the fire.

     The Japanese manners and customs are good for departure.

     I pray to have good your one year.


  2. Hi,Cosmos.
    Welcome back blogging、Cosmos.



  3. I couldn't stop my tear while I was reading this post because we knew you were taking care of your mother very well so you could meet your mother's last and say "Have a good rest"
    Your mother must have been happy.


  4. I also think your mother was quite happy. Her independent style of life before she got married reminds me of my grand mother. She was a chief nurse and fell in love with a married director of the hospital and finaly got married with him after his former wife passed away. The big difference seems that my grand mother was too strong willed, not witty person, though I loved her very much and I learned from her a lot.

    Thank you for your heartwarming story and beautiful photos which suggest good signs.

  5. I am so sorry that your mother died, and my heart is full of sadness at the idea. Your mother sounds as if she was a strong and unusual and inspiring person, but of course you loved her because she was your mother. I am also very sad to think that her operation went wrong and she suffered. I am glad that you were able to visit her and help her to come to terms with it.

    I think it's a good idea to have a set time for mourning. In a way one will never stop mourning a loved one, but here in England we don't have enough ceremonies and rituals for bereavement.

    Your description was touching and full of life, and I am glad you can wave your mother on now to her new life, as well as beginning your own.

  6. Hello Cosmos
    your post was touchingly written, I felt it deeply and offer you my condolences for the loss of your mother. I too think that the rituals and passages afforded by your culture are beneficial for the grieving process whether one is a true believer or not.

    May this year of the dragon be a fruitful and happier year for you.

  7. Ah, this is a touching post Cosmos. I am sure you have a very good last time with your mother and there is something to take with you as memories.
    I do not understand so much of this Buddhisme..

    I have missed you and your blogging.
    I give my best wishes and blessings to you for this year 2012.

    Hugs from Tania:-)

  8. Reading your blog, tears came up to my eyes. My mother is almost same age and I thought how you felt. But it was so good that you had taken care of her and held her hand at her last moment.
    I remembered my father. He passed away suddenly while he was sleeping 18 years ago. I could not meet nor say anything to him. It had tormented me for a long time as he passed away alone. After my cat died, my father appeared holding my cat in his arms in my dream. He was taking care of my cat and both of them looked happy. I told them sooner or later I would go to see them again. This dream gave me the peace of mind a little.
    Your story is touching and full of your love toward your mother. Now your mother is in your heart.
    Please take care of yourself.

  9. ruma

    Thank you for coming and leaving beautiful words.
    I was impressed with the manners she was treated; courteously and respectfully.It was a graceful departure.

    May this year be much more fruitful for you, ruma.

    red rose




    Thank your for your kind words. Like I said to red rose, I didn't realize how I should be thankful to my mother for what she had been doing for me till I lost her. She had to struggle illness for a while but she said she was quite satisfied with her life here.
    Of course parting was painful but now I feel even happy for her.
    Thank you for your heartfelt condolence, sarah.


    I'm impressed with the story of your grandmather.I think I can understand how she was; sensitive and sensible enough and well determined to stick to her principles. My mother also had a strong personality in a way and showed interests in everything.

    From now I could talk to her whenever I want to.
    Thank you, haricot. Have a happy time!

  10. Jenny

    Thank you for your heartfelt comment. Like you say I realized the idea that sets aside for a certain period to cherish the deceased memory was helpful for bereavement. The problem is I found funeral and the services followed by was quite troublesome and cost a lot.
    These days some people try to make things simpler and of course we can choose how to do the funeral, though.
    Wishing you happy travels and wonderful reports.


    Like you did at your father’s, some people here also make it more individual one. I am for it. What matters is the thought people who cared for the deceased offer the heartfelt condolences.
    May your year of the dragon be healthier and happier and feistier! Happy 40th wedding anniversary!


    Here most funerals are conducted with Buddhist rites unless people have a strong faith in other religions. Actually there were lots of things I didn’t know about how to do and what to do. I realized bereaved family were quite busy doing those services till the end of mourning period.
    How about in Christianity?
    Anyway now I’m back to a daily life. Thank you for visiting here and leaving the comment.


    I’m sorry to hear about your father. I understand you might have some regrets about not being able to see him at the last moment but how happy he must have been to pass away while sleeping! How I wish I would do like that. It’s so good that he appeared in your dream to make you rest assured in the knowledge that he and your cat were resting in peace.

    Thank you for your heartwarming story.
    Looking forward to visiting your wonderful blogs this year too.

  11. Your tribute is very touching. As I said in the previous comment, your mother must have been very glad in her last days that you, your father and sisters were taking good care of her. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.


  12. I'm so sorry for your loss. Your words and pictures moved me very much.

    (Also, the shots of those lights in your previous post are just stunning.)

  13. Dear Cosmos, I’m sorry I seem to have missed the time of your comeback. This is a touching tribute to your mother, I couldn’t read without tears. As I had seen you visiting and taking care of her these years, I’m sure she must have felt happy to have such a child like you and I believe she had a happy departure to another world even if painful physically to her and emotionally to the bereaved. I feel as if it were my own sadness as I know I’ll meet the time to depart my mother sooner or later. I remember the quiet despair and enormous thankfulness after my loved younger brother, father, and grandparents passed away. As you restore the spirit to resume your activities little by little, I look forward to seeing you.

    写真も素敵ですね。同じようなカラートーンに統一して構成されてるように感じます。 どんどの火はまるで生きているように見えますし、鶏にもその火と同じ色がありますね。 赤い実の木は背が高いので、くろがねもちでしょうか。

    See you soon.

  14. Lady Fi

    Thank you for visiting here and leaving a kind comment That’s a great encouragement for me .I’m always impressed with your great work and your unfailing inspiration..


    Thank you for taking the time to comment again. I heard from a friend of mine that only a body was suffering; the soul was already off the body and watching it in peace. I’ll buy the idea.



    Thank you for your heartfelt comment. I always love the way you write and make me feel warm. I find myself coming to terms with this sense of loss. She finished her long life without leaving anything behind to regret over. Now I’m happy for her, though I have to support my father from now.

    You noticed something I didn’t notice myself with your insightful eye; the color in these picture.
    Like you said, this tree is “kuroganemochi”

    Looking forward to seeing you too.

  15. I'm so sorry for your loss, Cosmos. It was wonderful that you got some little sign from the music box that she was nearby and saying her goodbye to you. I had something similar happen to me when my father passed away, and it helped me cope with the sorrow.

    I wish you much joy and prosperity in this new year.

  16. Hi Cosmos,
    I was myself off blog and am just slowly getting back.
    Hope your mother Rests in Peace. She has such a wonderful daughter in you.
    The new year celebrations of burning decorations is very new to me.
    Thanks for sharing:)

  17. w2w

    I'm glad you had a similar experience. Some say it happens only in your heads though. I think it interesting and meaningful to think that something I used to think happened by chance have some important messages.The thought I could feel warmth and encouragement from the loved ones was a great help for bereavement.

    Thank you for your precious memory, w2w.


    The fire celebration is one of a Shinto-related traditions; one theory says we welcome Gods for New Year by decorating
    with specific ornaments and see them off by burning them when New Year holidays are over.

    After getting your second wind, please enjoy blogging.I'm looking forward to it.
    Thank you, Arti. Have a lovely weekend.

  18. I do hope you're feeling a little better.

    Sending you much light,
    Lady Fi

  19. Thank you, Lady Fi, for being so thoughtful.I am all right now and enjoying my life.

  20. cosmosさん、こんにちわ。




  21. ありがとうございます。実家に泊まった翌朝、思いがけず銀世界でした。裏庭にある蝋梅も雪をかぶり、その冷たい感触を楽しんでいるようでした。雪の精が見つかり思わぬプレゼントに感謝しています。

  22. Cosmos,this is a beautiful post and loving tribute to your dear mother.
    It's wonderful to hear that she has had a smooth and speedy journey into the spirit world.Japanese rituals and ceremonies must be very helpful in all rights of passage throughout life.Spring is on it's way bringing hope and new growth.Nature is a great healer.

    My condolences and good wishes to you and your family.

  23. Thank you, Ruby, for your warm words. According to the traditional East Asian calendars,yesterday was a beginning of spring. This year it's been terribly cold and unexpectedly snowed a lot in some places here. Still I can surely see the day getting longer and lighter.I can feel and get the warmth and encouragement from nature and people as well.

    Take good care of yourself and Stay warm, Ruby.

  24. 懐かしいポストを有難う。改めて読ませて頂き、胸がきゅんとなりました。棺のそばで泣く啓子さんを思いました。


Thank you for visiting and leaving comments. It's really encouraging!

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