Saying such a phrase had become a matter of course at some point, but now being able to say it was probably thanks to the slightly embarrassed hand-holding of my younger sister.
It was still early in the day, with the sun shining brightly, enough to make one sweat if outside for too long.
Yet, I paused for a moment in front of the door, as if it were a declaration of determination for the life that awaited me.
The two of them said in unison, one on each side of me. I put my hand on the doorknob and slowly opened the door. It was an action I had taken just recently, but now its significance had greatly changed.
(Once again, the four of us…)
Yesterday was the day when the three of us visited the grave. Now, I finally returned to my home.
“I see, you’ve made up your mind.”
“Yeah, Grandpa. I plan to go back with the three of us tomorrow.”
I was the first to report it to Grandpa. Of course, Mom had wanted to be the first, but I had my reasons for wanting to be the one to do it.
“Listen, Grandpa, I want you to forgive Mom.”
Grandpa showed a thoughtful expression in response to my words.
Undoubtedly, Grandpa had not yet forgiven Mom. He seemed to hide it in his usual interactions, but judging from his current reaction, it was clear.
“I realized that I’m still just a child.”
I had interacted with various people recently. Everyone had different personalities, and it was a matter of compatibility.
“Lately, I’ve been helped by many different people. They offered ideas that I could never come up with myself, and some of their opinions even changed my values. On the other hand, there were opinions I could never agree with.”
“There were things that I deeply appreciated and things that I inwardly disliked. It became pretty clear who I wanted to be with and who I found difficult to be with.”
Through this, I came to realize something.
“Human connections are ultimately just that.”
Despite Grandpa’s puzzled expression due to my seemingly negative words, I continued. It wasn’t a dark conversation by any means.
“I’m with someone because I like them. I distance myself from someone because I dislike them. It’s a simple and straightforward matter. And once you’ve separated from someone, in most cases, you won’t have much to do with them afterward.”
Once I graduated from high school, I knew that I would most likely not have much interaction with most people. If even 1% of connections remained, that would be a wonderful thing, and if there was no connection, it wouldn’t be that rare either.
“I thought it would be the same with Mom and Sachi.”
“It wasn’t about lacking interest or anything like that. I detested them and avoided them, and I lived my life that way. Not unconsciously, but consciously.”
“Well, that’s understandable. Especially with Sachi, but even with your mother, she made a mistake after all.”
“Yeah, I also think that way, so I don’t regret or repent about that. But you know, I regret having carried that burden alone.”
“Yeah. Recently, or rather, I was taught that I should have relied on others more. At least in my case, I should have done that.”
“Indeed, if you had told me, regardless of the outcome, it might have been better.”
Grandpa said, puffing out his chest with pride. I really loved that aspect of him.
“Family is important after all.”
An existence that supports you unconditionally, offering love without any conditions.
“I wonder who can rely on someone when they have lost that person or never had someone to rely on in the first place.”
“Indeed, there are probably many people like that in the world.”
“Having a family to rely on is the best. But for someone like me, there are times when I can’t do that. However, people always need a ‘trigger.'”
For me, that trigger was undoubtedly Fukumura.
The feelings I once wished for were now reignited within my heart.
Any trigger would do. Just having an ally, someone to be saved by, would bring solace.
Overcoming the fear of stepping in or being stepped on requires strength.
Fukumura, who possessed that strength, saved me.
“I want to become a teacher.”
It was the first time I had a clear goal. I never had something I wanted to do, nor did I have the luxury to think about it.
But now, I can say this clearly because of Sachi’s support, never giving up on us.
“I might be having a conceited idea of wanting to save someone, and I might not have that power. But I don’t want to waste the feeling I have right now. So, I want to become a teacher. I want to be someone’s ‘trigger,’ no matter how small.”
“I see. I’ll support you.”
Accepting my words, Grandpa encouraged me. I knew he would do that, but it still made me happy.
“Well, I understand your decision. I won’t oppose it, but what does that have to do with forgiving Taeko-san?”
While it was a question about what to do, it was asked in a genuine curious tone.
Though it was a bit embarrassing, I had to admit that it was rare for me to be so straightforward.
“Well, you see, it’s like taking the first step.”
“I see, that makes sense.”
Yes, this is the first step towards my dream.
“Dad used to mediate between Sachi and me when we fought. I still remember that very well.”
It was indeed my ideal image of a father.
“Father and son, huh?”
“Well, of course, because we’re father and son.”
Saying that, we both laughed. But for a moment, Grandpa’s expression turned serious as he said:
“However, it’s a no-go. I still won’t forgive Taeko-san.”
“Eh, is that so?”
“Of course. It wouldn’t be fun if your dream came true so easily.”
“What’s with that? It’s just mean.”
“That’s right. It’s just mean.”
“Eeh. Even if you dislike me, it’s okay, you know? I’ll still side with Mom normally.”
Because, well, I’ve already forgiven her.
“I don’t care if Taeko-san hates me. I don’t care if Shuya or Sachi hates me. Do you know why?”
“Eh… Oh, I get it now.”
I understood the true meaning of his words and honestly admired him. I didn’t know Grandpa was so good at expressing himself.
“”Because we’re family.””
Even if we drift apart, we can come back together.