Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sole Survivor of Family of Eight Searches Rubble of Destroyed Home for Lost Memories

Misaki Miura, a third year student at Motoyoshi Hibiki High Shool, aged 17, who used to live in Hajikamisuginoshita, Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture, lost 7 members of her family including her parents and sisters by Eastern Japan’s Great Earthquake. Only she was left alive in her family. Her home near the coast was swept away by tsunami. She stays at her relative's home and goes to her house torn down to rubbles to search for family mementos. Nearly 3 weeks have past ever since she plumbed the depth of sorrow. She keeps telling herself, "let's look into the future."
Her family members consisted of her parents, Yoshihiro, aged 43 and Mieko, aged 41, and sisters, Miho, a 9th grade student at Hajikami Junior High School, aged 15, and Miki, who used to go to a kindergarden, aged 6. Her grandfather, aged 74, grandmother, aged 72, and great-grand mother, aged 93, used to live with them as well.
Misaki was in a shopping center in Kesennuma when the earthquake hit Japan on March 11th and didn’t encounter tsunami. 5 of her family members including her father were likely to have been at home. The car driven by her mother who went out to pick up Miki from the kindergarten was found nearby.
She exchanged mails with her mother on mobile in a short time between the earthquake and tsunami. She mailed to her mom, I’m all right. Her mother returned to her, Where were you?. She told her mom that she had been in the shopping center. That was the last communication with her mother.
Later on, she was told that all of her family members were likely to have been engulfed by tsunami. She cried almost to the point of losing her mind. She was able to stay at the place of her aunt, aged 47. A few days later, her sister Miho was found dead. Other 6 members are still missing.
She went back to her home. Nothing remained. All the houses nearby were reduced to a mere wood debris.
She found a picture. She was playing with her mother and her sister on a slider in the picture. That was a picture taken when she went to a farm with her family last year. She also found her parents’ engagement ring and her sister’s school bag. She wore her bracelet on her wrist. Tears come to her eyes. The memory of her family is brought back.
Her father used to grow strawberries. He used to frequently ask her to take over his job. But she was reluctant as she wanted to be a national registered dietitian and told him that her sister can do that for him. She used to turn down his request to help him. Now she apologizes to her father, saying that she is sorry.
Her mother was a good cook. But she felt too shy to tell her mom that her foods are delicious. Now she regrets that and wishes that she had expressed her feeling honestly. She hasn’t deleted the last mail from her mom and keeps it.
Her youngest sister Miki liked her so much that she wouldn’t leave her sister for a minute. Misaki feels as if she can still hear her sister’s voice calling her “Mi-chan”. Misaki used to fight with 2ndeldest sister Miho over trivial things. Misaki sometimes scolded her sister saying that she should study hard for the entrance exam. Miho took an exam to enter the high school same as Misaki. The names of students who passed the exam were announced after the quake. Miho passed the exam and would have become Misaki’s junior if she had survived.   
Miho was cremated on the 21st. There was a graduation ceremony at her junior high school on the next day. Misaki attended the ceremony to receive a graduation certificate on behalf of Miho.
Her aunt is nice and caring. Her friend cheers her up with words of encouragement.
The calendar show April. Misaki says, “I won’t cry anymore. Otherwise I won’t be able to see my family with my head up.”
Written by Natsuki Sato, Kahoku Shinpo
Monday, April 4th, 2011
Translated by Yuka Horino

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