13:  Visiting Anne’s grave

After our pleasant talk, it was time to go to the graveyard where Anne now rests. All four of us got into the taxi, and Anne’s mother explained to the driver how to get there. We arrived in no time. Anne’s younger sister, a beautiful woman just like Anne, was waiting for us at the graveyard. She lives right nearby and takes care of Anne’s grave. We introduced ourselves, and then headed for Anne’s grave. Suddenly, I remembered that I had forgotten something important. In Japan, we always bring flowers and incense sticks when we visit graves. I imagined that Western countries have a tradition of offering a wreath of flowers to the grave. I remembered this when I was at our hotel, but completely forgot about it as soon as we got into the taxi. As we headed for the grave, I apologized to Anne’s mother and sister about this, and soon we reached the site.

Just as in the photo I received, her tombstone was an enchanting size and had “Anne Ross” engraved in English and in katakana.

I stood in silence for a while. Then, I walked up to her grave with deep emotions, my heart overflowing. I finally was able to keep my promise to Anne’s mother. While putting my hands together, I thought of the days I had spent with Anne. Tears fell from my eyes in a torrent and the only words I could find were, “Thank you. I am sorry.” She must have been waiting for a Japanese person to visit her grave for a long time. Thinking of how heart-breaking it must have been for her when nursing the many sacrificed dogs, the only thing I could do was apologize. Was there nothing more I could have done for her? I had asked myself this question daily until this visit. Now, standing in front of her grave, I could only pray that her soul would rest in peace. My four-year-old son stood bashfully beside me, and my wife also prayed in front of the tombstone. My long-time dream had finally come true.

I felt that I could never stay long enough, but soon it was time for us to go. We went back to the taxi, and took Anne’s mother and sister home. We felt the sorrow of having to part right up until our final farewell. They both were crying and waved their hands to our taxi for a long time as we drove away. This scene was seared into my memory forever.