This week my wife would have celebrated her 44th birthday. The fact that Akiko isn’t here to do so is still hard to fully grasp, although that isn’t anywhere near as hard as day-to-day life without her. Feelings that aren’t going to change any time soon either, as it’s only a little over 3 months since she died. A period that has felt unreal, and at the same time all too real, as it’s simply impossible not to think about all the meals and conversations we should have enjoyed — not to mention all the similar times we will now never have. Constant, utterly uncontrollable thoughts of what was, and also what might have been. Thoughts that are currently more acute than ever, and yet thoughts that in a slightly more positive way brought me back to the photo below.
It’s an image that somehow seems to encapsulate the past and the present in one simple frame, creating a moment of hope and loss, memory and reality. It was also Akiko’s favourite photo of mine. One she helped create as well, as seeing my original edit, she immediately shook her head and said, “Nah, it has be in black and white”. She was absolutely right of course, as those previously mentioned elements only really work in monochrome — a collaborative approach that now makes the image even more special. Sadly we will never grow old together like the couple briefly captured, but we were lucky enough to be as content as they look, so as time goes on, those memories will hopefully make the present reality that little bit more manageable.
A beautiful photo and truly heartbreaking words. Your love and loss is so clear and pure. Stay strong Lee. A lot of people are thinking of you.
Thank you very much, that’s really kind of you and very much appreciated.
Your words are beautiful about something so heartbreaking. Take care of yourself and thank you and your dear wife for the beautiful photograph.
Thanks a lot, that’s really good to hear. Wasn’t the easiest of things to write, but it was helpful to do so. And you are very welcome. It was our pleasure.
I know exactly how you feel, Lee. The pain changes with time but does not go away and starts again every morning. You need to stay strong, if only for other people.
Thanks a lot, Ken. I know that feeling about the mornings. Just taking each day as it comes. I hope you are doing ok. Or at least the best you can do for now. Take care of yourself.
Sending love from the other side of the planet. Thanks for still doing this as the beauty your posts provide can brighten up even the greyest of days.
Thank you very much. Very happy to take love from anywhere — near or far. Really glad to hear that, and you are very welcome. The creative process is a huge help. Without it things would, without a doubt, be even harder. It’s an incredibly important escape and distraction.
Sending my deep sympathy to you. Thank you for continuing TokyoTimes, and sharing
your thoughts with us strangers. Stay strong.
Thank you very much. Doing my best on that score. One day at a time. And as for Tokyo Times, you are very welcome. As I mentioned in the reply above, the creative process is a huge help in these incredibly difficult times.
Thanks from me, too, for your courage in sharing these thoughts and feelings. And this photo. I can tell you two things from my personal and professional experience as a psychologist helping people mourn the tragic loss of a partner deeply loved. First, the intensity of the pain does diminish with time if you allow yourself to experience those memories, etc. Second, it will probably never go away completely. In time it will become an ache. And you will experience, if not even savor, poignant, bitter sweet memories. Keep sharing your photos. And keep sharing these feelings with your followers, who clearly care. Warmest wishes
Thanks ever so much Richard. That was very reassuring to read. There’s obviously no one way of dealing with it, but knowing that things do get easier, and those memories help is really good to know. This was hard to write as you can understand, but it was definitely helpful. Often easier to write these things than say them. At least clearly it is, anyway. Something I should continue to do I think.
Yes, each person grieves in his/her own way. Some liken it to waves coming onshore. As time goes on the height and intensity of the waves lessen. But there can be an occasional ‘sneaker wave’ which can catch one by surprise. Some people find that keeping a journal helps. No need to write everyday. But writing something when the mood strikes can be helpful. There are support groups here in the USA for people who have lost a partner to cancer. Some find those helpful. I don’t know if such groups exist there in Tokyo….let alone an English speaking one. I hope you will share some of your experiences here, too. Very best wishes
Cheers again Richard, that’s all very useful to know. I can totally relate to the wave analogy as well. The initial ferocity of those has eased somewhat, but those ‘’sneaker waves’ certainly haven’t.
That’s a good point about support groups too. Don’t know about here, but going forward it might be something worth exploring. And yes, I shall definitely share some of my experiences here.
Hospice is an organization in the USA which helps patients and family members dealing with a terminal illness. Many local Hospice programs offer support for the family members after a loved one has died. I do not know if Hospice is operating there. But you might look into it….or for some other group which is providing such support.
Stay safe and well.
Thanks again. All very good advice. A lot for me to think about in many ways.
A beautiful photo. Reading your words makes me realize how much you love(d) Akiko, how deep your loss is but also how wonderful (some of) your memories of her are. Stay strong but also sensitive, Lee. Sending you a virtual hug.
Thank you very much. We had our ups and downs of course, but yes, I loved her very much. But yeah, I do have lots of memories, so hopefully they will help as time goes on. Cheers, I shall try my best on both those counts, and the virtual hug was very welcome.
Such a wonderful tribute to her – this is a great photo. Hard to believe it is not a movie still. It’s so sad and awful that your story together did not have a happier ending but I’m glad you’re finding the strength to continue to work.
Thank you very much. It was such a lovely moment to see and capture, and then Akiko’s input makes it all the more special. An image I hold incredibly dear. And yeah, the happy ending wasn’t to be, but she remains with me in many ways, and definitely one of those ways is to keep on shooting. It’s what she wanted me to do.
There’s a timelessness to this photo which Akiko’s preference for black and white locks into place. The subjects look off into the past, toward the future; they watch for an arrival or departure, or perhaps they simply observe. It reminds me of scenes from black and white Japanese nūberu bāgu from the 1960s — like director Susumu Hani’s Kanojo to kare (She and He, 1963), or director Yoshishige Yoshida’s Mizu de kakareta monogatari (A Story Written With Water, 1965). ‘Nouvelle vague’ when filmed, both movies would have been more than 10 years old when Akiko was born and no longer so ‘nouvelle’; her preference for black and white reached a period before and beyond her time.
That is the gift reflected in this photo: time travel — moments captured and shared forever to which you can travel when you wish. Not just the moment the camera captured but the moments you shared with Akiko discussing this photo and others. And in this one photo a reminder that some things are beyond time, are timeless, like your love for each other.
They never tell you time travel is painful, just as they rarely ever elaborate on the meaning of “’til death do you part.” But I’ve found time travel becomes easier with practice and the increasing distance between jumps though the pain never really goes away. May you be well as you make your own travels through time.
Yes, that timelessness is made so much stronger in black and white. It transformed the image. No doubt about it.
“That is the gift reflected in this photo: time travel — moments captured and shared forever to which you can travel when you wish. Not just the moment the camera captured but the moments you shared with Akiko discussing this photo and others. And in this one photo a reminder that some things are beyond time, are timeless, like your love for each other.”
Thanks so much for writing this. It’s such a lovely way of looking at it, and something I can fully appreciate at the moment Something I need to hold on to as well. Something to get me through the tough times.
This stunning photograph shadowed by your moving words breaks our hearts.
We are both thinking of you.
Thank you both very much. It was always a special photograph for me, but obviously it now feels a lot more special. An image that now contains my memories as well as the speculated memories of the couple in the photo.
Spanish fan says
I had to talk to my wife about this site when Akiko passed and you shared it with all of us. I felt so touched, so sorry for you, and at the same time so lucky for having her.
Since, the pic of you holding Akiko, with your beautiful smiles, is the loading background in our home’s computers, making us feel fuzzy and lovely every time.
I hope your memories last many many decades, and forever through photography.
Thank you so much for writing that, it was lovely to read. The memories will stay with me for however long I live that’s for sure. It’s also really nice to know that the picture of the two of us has taken on a new life elsewhere. That would have made Akiko smile.
This is a remarkable photo. The setting would lend itself to thinking the people are looking to the future, yet the face of the gentleman in particular leads me to think they are looking to the past, with longing. With questions. Where did the days go so quickly? Could we have another chance? What would we do differently? Why us?
Thanks ever so much. Yes, there’s so much in it. So much to speculate on. And like you said, so many potential questions. Very glad I managed to get this shot.
Beautiful words and photo. Stay strong but share often. You are in my thoughts.
Thank you very much on both counts. That’s definitely the plan. That and just taking each day as it comes.
Aubergine Fleur says
My fiance died in 2013 due to a brain tumor. I still see his parents fairly regularly, which is nice. Sometimes I still talk to him in my head, and of course remember him whenever I’m somewhere we used to go together. But, now the memories are more fond than painful.
Thanks a lot for writing that. It’s always reassuring to hear that over time, things do slowly get a little easier.
Very sorry to hear what you went through. That must have been incredibly difficult to deal with to say the least. Really glad to know that you are doing ok, and he is still an important part of your life.