In the days that followed the Kobe earthquake there were many stories of bravery and sadness that came to be reported. One of those stories still stops me every year on January 17, it makes me sit and it makes me think.
The report went that a few days after the earthquake a store keeper, who owned a local toy shop, was cleaning up the mess left by the disaster. In the middle of everything he heard a polite knock at the door of his shop. Looking up he saw an elderly couple, sombrely dressed, waiting quietly for him to finish what he was doing.
Asking if he could help them they replied they would like to buy some toys. Somewhat taken aback he asked why would they want toys in the middle of all of this. They replied "our grandchildren were killed in the earthquake and we'd like something to put in their coffins for them to play with".
Every January 17 I remember this old couple, their dignity, and I pray this will never be me.