There is a certain thing about the shrine near where I live. Buddhist. It's about love, peace. I remember when I saw my first shrine. It was a beautiful thing, simple wooden poles supporting a golden bell. I remember how it had piqued my interest. Where I lived, there were few of those shrines, people had chosen to focus more on work than following Buddhist principles. My father had died a few years before, so it was just me and my mother. I remember a couple of days after, my mother took me to the car and said that we were going somewhere peaceful. I was too busy crying to listen to her. She drove for a few hours towards my grandmother's home, and as we got out and started to slog, I saw the bell and heard it ring.
Out of everything, that bell was so solemn, yet it had something about it that made me stop weeping, to quietly listen to it. My grandmother said that I was moving into hers, while she did the preparations for my father's funeral.
From that day onward, I always made sure to live near to a shrine, to remember the father figure I lost. I'm a dad now, in fact. My little girl is now grown up, into a beautiful lady. I'm old now. My joints ache, I keep coughing, and sometimes I forget things.
"Dad?" I snapped out of my reverie. "Are you ready?" I nodded, smiling. "Sure. Let's go!" Opening the gate, we gathered our bearings, and walked towards the shrine. I looked up to the shrine, and smiled softly.
We reached the base of the hill. Yotsuba turned to face me. "You sure you can walk up these, dad? I could carry you, if you like." She smiled mischievously at me. I returned the smile, but without the mirth. We climbed quietly up the shrine. It felt strange, doing it all again with my daughter. I remember one of the days when we'd race to the shrine, and she'd trip over. But she'd still get back up, giggling away. Back when I was able to run. As usual, she was ahead of me. She whistled an old tune that I had taught her, back when she was just an eight year old. We finally reached the shrine. Silently, we walked up to it, and paid our respects.
We walked toward a point of the hill where we could see the whole of the town. The sun was starting to descend, bathing us and the rest of Emaimachi in the golden sunlight.
The both of us sat in silence. "Dad, do you remember how I always used to point out the wrong house?" I smiled and nodded. "Mm-hmm. I never understood how you could get it wrong, most of the time it was in front of us." I grumbled, sounding every part the Old Aged Pensioner. Yotsuba gave off another smirk. "I know now." She said after another few moments of silence.
I looked at her. "Go ahead." I asked. "Maybe it was because I went around Emaimachi all the time. I'd have visited nearly all of the houses, and made so many friends. I guess it all started to seem like home to me." She said. I nodded, and we sat in silence for a little while longer.
"Dad?" I turned to her again. "Is there really nothing the doctors can do?" She asked. I paused. "No. It's spread over my heart and lungs. The doctors said that it's terminal." Yotsuba started to shake, her head lowered. "I don't want you to go..." I wrapped an aged arm around her, bringing her closer. Her head rested on my shoulder. "Remember what you used to say. Every day is always the most enjoyable." She turned her head. I smiled peacefully, as I stared out to the town. "I haven't got long. But I don't want to leave you behind when you're in tears. I want us to cherish this moment. Enjoy everything."