It has been many months since my last entry in this journal; the pain and difficulty associated with writing in it serving as the primary factors for this lapse. Our recovery and daily lessons of living without Machi have strengthen me to a certain degree, as has the responsibility I have in drawing visitors to this remembrance of her. So here I go again…
Much of what has occurred since my previous update has been chronicled throughout these pages in both words and images. The Tree Planting ceremony held last year at Oak Grove Middle School is still as moving and emotional an experience as it was when we attended it. There are few weeks since its planting that we do not visit and care for this special place given to all by Machi’s teachers and schoolmates.
There was also our first observance of the many special occasions in our lives we shared without Machi’s physical presence. Some of the more challenging, such as her birthday, were helped by having friends and family members remembering as well. Others, including the day and moment she passed away, were spent in silent recollection and renewed suffering. Still, life most continue to be lived to the fullest with lessons learned and applied in a positive manner. Some of the more evident of these for me are:
that there will never be an explanation for Machi’s suffering and passing, only memories of her kindness and toughness that will forever shape my thoughts;
to cherish those I love as routinely as welcoming each new day;
to nourish my mind and body to enable helping others through significant challenges when I will be most needed;
to show sincerity, love and affection without any expectation other than it is the right thing to do;
that when my time comes these investments will become both vital and apparent.
I thank you for reading this and encourage you to also take these lessons from Machi into your own life. Exercise a consistent degree of discipline and commitment to achieving your goals, and feel free to share what you can with the rest of us.
March 11, 2001
Today we observed four months since Machi’s passing by shopping for flowers and decorating her room in the friendly and sunny fashion she enjoys. Junko and Julia brought home a bouquet of beautiful tulips in lieu of the sunflowers they were unable to find. I purchased a small book entitled “For My Daughter With Love“, filled with lovely passages written from a mother to her daughter, that we all read before placing it Christina’s room. It was a difficult day as expected, but we made it through and look towards the next sunrise with all the hope and strength that comes from a family together.
Just a short note to say I love you and Thank You for all you continue to bring us. We are always thinking of you, using your memory to keep us strong, and missing you with every breath we take.
Please keep taking care of Mommy, Julia and I in every way you can. Although you already know this, you will never be forgotten.
January 11, 2001
Recalling Machi’s passing exactly two months ago today, I remember both the sadness of her loss and the joys of her life. Her memorial service, attended by over 200 friends and family members, was a true tribute to an existence that meant so much to many.
While working in my den this month I found a diary that Machi had kept. It was a gift from her friends Rachel, Jenny, and Leah, that carried a beautiful message on it’s cover:
as though no one is watching you
as though you have never been hurt before
as though no one can hear you
as though heaven is on earth
The only entry in it was dated August 20, 2000, less than an week before her thirteen birthday. Reading it made me weep uncontrollably for Machi wrote of her constant pain, the fear of losing to cancer, and of how she ached for what it had done to hurt her mother, sister and I. Machi never mentioned writing this to any of us. Four days later we were informed by her medical team that the latest chemotherapy treatment had taken another toll on her body but had no effect on her disease. She was given less than two months to live and little hope of extending her life with any quality. All of us would do everything we could over the following months to give her all of the time and peace possible.
Reflecting on that time I again count the blessings that are our family and friends, again realize the impact Machi had and has on all of them, and of how very difficult it is to be without her. Still, I write these thoughts with the hope that they have a useful effect on other lives who are blessed by the good deeds that Machi produced.
November 19, 2000
It is with great sorrow that I announce Christina’s peaceful passing in the company of her parents and sister on Saturday, November 11, 2000. Christina had been hospitalized in San Francisco since October 6 with various infections that ultimately took her life. Machi fought courageously and received all the support possible from family, friends and the medical professionals who cared for her. A detailed journal of her struggle with liver cancer will be published on these pages in the hope that it will help others in their personal challenges.
October 31, 2000
Christina has been hospitalized in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of California Pacific Medical Center since October 6. She was taken by ambulance directly from John Muir Medical Center where she had been undergoing outpatient treatment of a clinical trial drug. As a result of this and previous chemotherapy treatments her immune system had been severely compromised, and the fear we have had for many weeks finally materialized in the form of septic shock. Machi was transferred to the PICU after spending less than a week at CPMC. Her condition has gradually deteriorated, particularly following surgery on October 17 to replace her central line which had become infected. To add to this difficult time, my mother, Justina, passed away in her home in Southern California on October 18. Mom’s illness and resulting disability caused her to never know about Machi’s condition, something that I regard as a blessing knowing how she would have been affected by it. She had suffered greatly in the last few years and her passing was just as she had requested, peacefully at home and with her family.
Machi has been on a respirator since her surgery and no longer able to interact with us. Most of her major organs are no longer functioning without assistance. Despite the many challenges of the past few months, this has been the most difficult time. Junko and I have taken an apartment across the street from CPMC and are spending every possible moment with Machi in her room. The medical staff has been very accommodating to us and aggressive in applying various alternatives to get Machi back to a stable condition.