Back in April, I mentioned the very sad news about my wife’s terminal cancer and the limited amount of time she had left. Heartbreakingly, that time has now been and gone. Tough beyond belief, and stoic right until the very end, Akiko died last week — her life cut horribly short at the age of just 43. The world keeps turning of course, but it’s without a doubt a darker place without the light of kindness and fun Akiko brought to it. A shadow that obviously looms very large in my life, as I lost both my wife and best friend, meaning the life that now remains is a very different one indeed.
During these last few months, there were times when the situation was hard to say the least. Due to the truly dreadful nature of the disease, it was also a period that involved an awful lot of suffering, and yet despite it all, Akiko demonstrated a level of thoughtfulness that I struggle to match even on my better days. Additionally, there was a journey element of sorts, albeit one confined to our living room. Along with Akiko’s family, it was a chance to simply hang out, reminisce about this and that, plus most importantly of all, express things that all too often get left unsaid. In the end though, it was a journey that had to end in a parting of the ways. Not one at the door saying, ‘see you later’. Not at the airport on our many trips to and from the UK either. But a parting that ended with a final, utterly gut-wrenching farewell.
So, as I now sit in that same living room writing this, Akiko isn’t here anymore. Nor will she ever be. That means there are no more shared dinners and jokes to enjoy, no more shared experiences and support, and no more endearingly rolled eyes at my general incompetence at most things that demand even a modicum of common sense. And yet that said, Akiko is still here. She remains forever in my heart and always on my mind — a place where she’ll continue to be a positive and encouraging force until it’s my turn to head in the same direction.
As a postscript of sorts, I should add that photography, as ever, has been a huge help throughout all of this, and with that in mind, I know for sure that it’ll provide the kind of distraction and drive I’m desperately going to need. Like a reason to go back out into the world again, and a reason to try and think about things other than what’s just happened. Giving up and downing tools is also something Akiko made me promise I would not do, so as soon as I’m up to it, I’ll be out shooting again, or at the very least sifting through older photos. In fact, in regards the latter, I already have some previously put together drafts ready and waiting, so my plan is to start posting again on July 27th, with subsequent new posts every Tuesday and Friday. But until then, take care, and always take similarly good care of the ones you love.
* I’d just like to say thank you very much for all the lovely and supportive comments. With so much to take care of at the moment, replying to them all individually simply isn’t possible. Emotionally it would be a real struggle too. But reading them has been an incredibly positive experience in a time when such gestures and thoughts are more precious than ever. Thank you.