On days like this, it's supposed to be cold and rainy. But not today. Today it is hot, today it is sticky, today it is filled with a strange warmth.
I am sitting on the couch, by myself, surrounded by neighbors, friends, and people who I've never met. There's not much talking, everyone is standing, silently looking at one another as they eat food.
Izumi is standing like everyone else. His face is pale and stricken, he's lost weight. The food on his plate is untouched, as is mine. Neither of us have had much of an appetite these past few days. I watch as Izumi leans back against the wall, his head lulling to the side, closing his eyes. He's trying to keep himself from crying. Someone approaches him, a coworker I think, and puts his hand on his shoulder. Izumi opens his eyes and looks at the man trying to smile, but all that comes out is a sob. The man takes him in his arms and hugs him tightly, gently patting and rubbing him on the back. That should be my job—comforting Izumi, but right now, I just don't have the energy.
I try to stand, but my legs are shaky and I end up falling back on the couch. Izumi needs me, but I can't get off this couch. I place my head in my hands, trying to stave off the tears like Izumi, but I find that reality is much harder than thought. I feel as if my arms have been ripped off, as if my heart has been torn straight from chest, as if there is a knot so tight in my gut that I cannot breathe. I begin to hyperventilate.
That is when there is a hand placed on my back, and with the small amount of energy I have, I look back and see Reiji. Like me, his face is pale and stricken, genuine feelings of loss hidden in his eyes. His hand tightly squeezes my shoulder, and I place my hand upon his before I erupt into tears. He comes to sit with me on the couch, placing my head on his chest as I try to get my sobs under control.
There are so many people in this room, this house, yet no one seems notice the two of us crying and suffering. They whisper quietly amongst themselves what a horrible loss it is, what a terrible thing has happened, how no parent should have to bury their child.
I manage to get my crying under control and wipe the tears away from my face. I look at Reiji and try to smile, but it falters, almost making me cry again. His hand on my shoulder tightens, and he looks me, an incredibly sad smile plaguing his face.
"Sayori was a beautiful child, be thankful for the time that you had with her," He says quietly, almost as if a whisper.
I nod my head and continue to wipe away my tears. I should be happy for the time I spent with her. She was so beautiful, our little angel, making every day so bright and like a new adventure.
Slowly, I stagger to my feet and cross the room to Izumi. He still be held by that man, but he hears my footsteps and looks at me. His eyes are red and puffy, his face frail and boney. He gently nods and the man steps away so that Izumi can come towards me. I reach for his hand, which is so unusually cold, and bring him into an embrace. We stay like this; I have no idea for how long, before he gives me a small and gentle peck on the cheek. We look at each other and smile.
"Do you remember," Izumi says, his voice cracking. "The day we went on that picnic, and we couldn't eat because the ants got to the food."
I nod, squeezing his hand too tight rather than talking for I knew my voice would sound terrible.
"We thought that the day would be ruined," Izumi laughed. "But Sayori took out the kite and we flew it all day on an empty stomach. None of us cared because it was such a beautiful day."
It was then our neighbor Richard approached us. There was the same grief in his eyes that was in everyone else's.
"You were so lucky to have a beautiful little girl like that," he said gently. "And you should be thankful that the cancer took her quickly instead of her having to suffer for years."
The two of us nod. While it was hard losing her, if we had to watch her suffer years with cancer eating away at her bones, I'm sure this pain would be worse. Six months was all it took for the cancer to take away from us. She only had to suffer for six months.
"We still had to bury her," Izumi said coldly. "It doesn't make up for the fact that we still had to bury her."
Richard nodded and put his hand on Izumi's shoulder. "She's in a better place now," he said, looking Izumi in the eyes. "A place without pain and without suffering. A place filled with love. Be thankful that her torment is over."
Izumi stifled back a sob and nodded. Richard was right; Sayori's suffering was over.
Izumi clenched my hand tightly, "I want to be alone right now."
"Izumi, the wake doesn't end for another hour, please stay in here. These people…"
"Only want to help us," He whispered quietly.
I nodded in agreement and hugged him again. His body felt cold yet warm at the same time. It felt like outside, where the sun was shining and the birds were chirping. It felt like love.
Two hours had passed and the last of the guests had left. Izumi was sitting on the couch, a glass of scotch in his hand. He was staring listlessly out the window. I came and sat beside him, looking at his gentle face.
"She's in a better place," I said.
"I know," He replied, laying his free hand on my leg. "Three years of the adoption process and then six years with her. Those years flew by didn't they?"
"Yes," I said, almost swallowing my words.
Izumi had been the one who wanted to adopt, the one who wanted a child so badly. I had protested at first, but eventually gave in. Even the day we went to the hospital to see Sayori for the first time, I was unsure if I was ready to be a father. But the instant I held her in my arms, something happened. I felt an indescribable love as she looked at me with those chocolate brown eyes; the breath was literally stolen from as her tiny fingers wrapper around just one of mine. If there were any one moment that I was say was perfect in my life, I would say it was that one.
"I feel as if my world has stopped," Izumi said, tears brimming on the edge of his voice. "I don't want to go on, not without Sayori. She was everything Takamiya, absolutely everything. I don't know how I can live without her, I really don't."
"Izumi," I whispered. "We have to go on. We have to find a way."
Izumi shook his head, "I don't know if I want to find one." Izumi turned and looked at me, his eyes glazed with grief. "If I left to join her, would you come with me?"
I gasped. I could not form the words, I couldn't even look him in the eyes. "This is the second time I've experienced genuine grief, Izumi," I finally managed to say. "And let me tell, this time it's worse. I want it to end, I really do, but think about it. Think about the grief we would cause others. Can you imagine your mother? She just lost her grandchild and now she'll lose you? Can you put her through that? Can you have her experience the same grief that you are? Do you want to make her bury a child as well?"
Izumi began crying and put his head on my chest, he clenched his fists in my shirt and pulled me tighter than he ever has before.
"Never leave me!" He cried loudly. "Never ever leave me, I can't do this again!"
I wrapped my arms around him and pulled him tighter yet. "I'll never leave you," I whispered in his ear. "Never ever."
Izumi nodded as he sobbed into my chest. I placed my head upon his and shared my tears with him.
We had lost something that we could never get back. We had lost our child, an experience and feeling that no parent should never have. Her laugh will forever echo in the walls of our England home, her smile will always be permanent in our minds, her gentle touch will always be etched into our skin, and her love, her love will always be in our hearts. Her love will fill these empty hallways, they will fill each of our steps, each of our minutes and hours for the rest of our lives. She is gone, but she is here with her love.
To think of living is difficult, but to think of dying is worse. Though we may feel as if ever one of our limbs has been amputated and our hearts have been cut from our chests, there is still life. Life that can be beautiful if we have each other, life that can be happy with each other's hand, life that can be full with the remembrance of Sayori's love.