It happens. You get the call and there is absolutely nothing you can do. Your friend has passed away, a wife has lost her husband, a daughter has lost her father. It happens. But that doesn't make it any better. You can but show you're respect and try to bring any form of comfort you can to the family. And so tonight we bury a friend. I'm hoping with many, many others there too.
A Japanese funeral is both intensely private and an open, public event. Last night the family and close friends will have stayed with the body until the time comes for the cremation. They will have sifted the ashes to find any remnants of bone and then carefully placed these in an urn. This evening we will all visit and pay our final respects, queuing in line as we each in turn say a prayer in front of what is sure to be a smiling photograph. And going home we will sprinkle ourselves with salt so that no back luck can follow.
He was younger than me but flew to England to be at our wedding twenty years ago. And when he landed the first thing he asked was could I get him tickets for the Arsenal game the following day. We didn't manage that but Fulham was a descent compromise for someone who loved soccer and had never seen an English game before. And I like to think that that was him. Living every day the best he could. And when I finally pop my clogs, I hope they say the same of me.
|Takeshi in better times walking off to the left, looking straight ahead|