I walk along a familiar path. No, it was supposed to be a familiar path.
Before long, I reach my destination. Before me, lies a grave.
It is the grave of my late husband.
I haven’t visited this place for a while.
I felt guilty. There was no way that person wanted the way I treated Shuya.
The grave was well-tended. Thanks to Sachi. She took on the role that I should have fulfilled.
I offer the flowers I bought at the station. The bright red salvia is a flower I liked.
I kneel down and face the grave. I imagine what that person would say if they saw me.
As convenient as that imagination may be, I am convinced that person would say something like that.
That person was endlessly kind, and Shuya takes after his father.
But Shuya is still a child. Sometimes, that kindness might have worked against him.
That’s why I had to guide him. I had to hold his hand and support him.
Despite making such mistakes, I still want to be a parent. I hope that wish is granted by those children.
I have to respond, and more than anything, I want to respond.
“I have to go now. I’ll come again.”
Shuya and Sachi will be back from their short trip soon. I have to prepare the meal and welcome them.
And someday, the three of us will…
“Mom, you came too.”
When I turn around, Sachi and Shuya are there. Judging from their reactions, it seems like this meeting is coincidental.
“You both came to see Dad as well.”
“Yeah. I haven’t been here in a while too.”
Visiting father’s grave. My heart aches even thinking about how I couldn’t even fulfill that properly.
“It’s been a while, Dad.”
Shuya murmurs and closes his eyes, putting his hands together.
How long did he do that? As time flows slowly, Sachi and I silently watch the sky.
“I guess cleaning isn’t necessary, huh?”
Eventually, Shuya, who stood up, said that while looking at the neatly cleaned grave.
“Thank you, Shuya.”
The words that came out of my mouth weren’t an apology but gratitude.
I don’t know why, but I felt like I should do it.
When was the last time I could sincerely say thank you like this?
It wasn’t just that I hadn’t faced Shuya. I hadn’t faced Sachi either, and I hadn’t faced the death of the person I loved.
My time had been standing still all this while.
What set it in motion was…
“Thank you, thank you, both of you.”
The two who call me “Mom” are so dear to me. I resent myself for having given up something so precious.
Various emotions stream down my cheeks.
What can I do now? Do I still have the ability to pick up what has spilled over?
I want to know. I don’t know. I still know nothing about Shuya.
As a mother, maybe there’s nothing I can do at this late stage.
But even so, I don’t want to give up.
[Don’t give up so easily!!]
The words spoken by none other than my son in front of me are etched in my heart without fading.
That’s why, even if it’s pitiful, even if I’m inadequate, even if I’m disgraceful, I want to continue being a mother.
I don’t want to give up on being a mother.
“What is it, Mom?”
As a family, as a mother, I will face them.
“Shall we go home?”
I’ll stack up the lost time.
I want to carve the path of family with the four of us.
(Thank you, huh)
It sounded the same, but the feelings that were put into it sounded different from what was said on that day before, when the three of us decided to go to grandpa’s house.
As Sachi said one day, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to forgive my mom.
But now, facing Mom like this, what comes to mind is sympathy.
Mom was suffering too.
I truly think she had a hard time. Losing Dad must have been more than just a difficult situation.
But Mom probably won’t admit that. She won’t seek sympathy. She won’t even acknowledge it herself.
Humans are creatures who can be forgiven. But they can never forgive themselves.
“I have a university I want to go to.”
“I see… then let’s definitely go.”
As a child, speaking to my mother.
“There are so many things I want to do. I want to play soccer. I have a field of study I want to pursue, and I really want to make lots of friends. Sometimes I just want to skip everything and be lazy, and then… get scolded for it. I want to continue my part-time job. I really like my workplace, you know? The manager and the junior staff are great people, and they help me a lot.”
“I see, I understand.”
Since that day when I couldn’t be believed and tasted the despair of loneliness, I’ve been desperately trying to live.
I couldn’t find anything enjoyable and just went through each day as if it were a stopgap measure.
The footsteps of a family hadn’t been engraved since that day.
“Thank you, Sachi.”
“I should be the one thanking you.”
Sachi was the one who kept our family connected. Without her, we would have remained completely scattered.
We needed a catalyst. Both I and Mom, deep down, were waiting for a chance to change.
So, this isn’t a miracle.
“Shall we go home?”
The trajectory of our family, carved by the four of us.