Some of you have asked about and followed the struggles of my friend Yumetaro-san. Last night his sister let me know that he had passed away earlier this month.
Over the past couple months I've visited Yumetaro-san 3 or 4 times at the hospice floor of the oncology hospital. Up until the last time I visited he was able to walk out to the "living room" and we would chat together. Once we walked around the small garden on the rooftop always with him pushing his IV pole. He even was able to go on a few hours outing with his sister and that evening she brought over some tofu that Yumetaro-san had bought for Tetsu and me.
I visited Yumetaro-san on Nov. 6th and was sad to find him barely conscious. I thanked him for the tofu and spent some time holding his hand. He was mumbling and I felt bad that couldn't catch what he was trying to say but I do think he knew that I had come to see him one more time. His sister said that they didn't expect him to live much longer, so I said my goodbyes then; a squeeze of the hand, a few words of gratitude for his friendship, a kiss on his cheek.
Yumetaro-san and I had an odd friendship. I knew him only 4 or 5 years. He brought me little things of his making. Paintings he'd painted on rocks, covered baskets, a beautiful scarf. I actually know so little about him. His first name was not really Yumetaro (Yumetaro means "dreamer") and I barely remembered his unusual last name. When I visited him the first time at the hospice, I stood at the nurses' desk and racked my brain until I finally pulled up his last name so that I could tell them whom I wanted to visit. We laughed when he greeted me in the hospice living room.
"Yumetaro-san! I didn't know who to ask for! You're just Yumetaro-san to me!"
"Yeah, well when the nurse told me that Watanabe-san was here to visit, I didn't know who that could be. I've only ever called you Tanya. What a pair we are! Don't even know each other by name!"
My friend Yumetaro-san is gone. I think I'll wear the scarf he gave me today.