April 4 – Discussing a Blur of a Weekend in 33 Minutes.
Yasue called Ian and I Sunday afternoon our time (Monday in Japan) and we had our longest conversation since 3/11—33 minutes.
After getting her bike on Saturday afternoon, Yasue’s schedule has been too hectic to ride it.
Upon waking Sunday, she drove straight to the hospital. She was there all day with her mom who has undergone some new treatments and is adjusting slowly to them. As it was dark by the time Yasue left the hospital, she did not get a chance to see if any new stores had opened.
With her car now on empty, she lined up for gas Monday morning at 7 a.m. and was thrilled to see there was no line to speak of. There are still many gas stations closed and the few that are open usually have long lines. The TV news advised that weekdays are best to get gas as the lines are shorter than on the weekends. Still, Yasue expected a longer line than the one that greeted her.
She was also happy to learn that they were no longer rationing gas so she was able to fill her tank. However, the best news came when she was getting ready to leave the station. The owners had posted a large sign that read, "Beginning Tomorrow at 8 a.m. We Will Be Open 24 Hours."
The TV news also said that natural gas company workers would be going house to house in Yasue’s neighborhood on Monday. So, she wouldn’t get to ride her bike that afternoon either as she would need to stay home and wait for them. They have to enter every home to inspect the gas line before turning it on.
She did speak with her mother a few times by phone. Her mother shared that one of the three patients who have been sharing her room will be discharged. Although it is good news that she is healthy enough to return home, the news is bittersweet.
These four roommates—along with Yasue—have been through a lot together. Complete strangers before 3/11, they quickly formed a bond that few hospital patients ever do. Yasue helped them by getting food and visiting with them because their families were too far away. They helped her by taking care of her mother and lifting Yasue’s spirits when she was down.
Certainly, the hospital will fill the empty bed immediately as the need for medical care in Tohoku is acute. The room will again be full but it won’t be the same. The dynamic will have changed.
As they have each day since 3/11, things are improving for Yasue. She now has plenty of food and gas. The natural gas should be turned on soon. She feels both blessed and overwhelmed by the riches she has received.
In part because of these riches, she still grieves deeply for the people living just miles away. She gets very emotional when talking about those people who have lost everything. Those who are still missing. Those who will never be found. Although things have improved greatly for her, Japan is still hurting. On some level, she is too.
Since 3/11, there are times in which she needed food, water, gas, help. But what she has wanted most has not changed since her CNN interview the day after the quake—she wants us to help those most in need. Only then, will she truly be able to celebrate the blessings she has received.
HONOLULU Magazine’s owner, aio, is organizing a fundraiser for Tohoku University Hospital. Click here for details.