Seasons passed by, and it was my third spring in the university.
I’ve waited for this season to come, and as soon as my classes are over, I ran up to the park, hoping to see her once again. And there she was, sitting on our usual spot. I smiled to myself as I walked up to her. But then, that smile slowly faded as I got closer to her. Her usual happy face was replaced with a sad one. Her thoughts seems to be somewhere else, as she never noticed that I was coming up to her. Her fingers fidget on her blouse, and her eyes was trying to control the tears from falling down her face.
“Hikaru…” I called in a soft voice. She looked at me. She bit her lips as the tears finally fell from her eyes. I sat next to her, and then she buried her face onto my chest as she cried. “Ya Lun…” she whispered as she sobbed softly. I stroked her hair as I embraced her into my arms. I let her cry on my shoulder, hoping that whatever she is feeling right now, it would ease everything with my embrace. “Grandpa… he…” she managed to say in between sobs.
At the start of that year, Rihito-sensei fell sick and was forced to take a leave. And maybe this is the reason why Hikaru is sad. She came here to see her beloved grandpa sick. “They… they said… they said grandpa will be… be….” Then, she cried again. Rihito-sensei is sick, and from what I’ve heard, his condition has worsened. I’m worried about Hikaru. From what I know, she became this way because of a tragedy that happened to her and her family. And now, there will be another tragedy that’s going to happen to them, and I’m not sure if she could take everything.
I walked her home, and we saw Aiba by the door. “Thank God, you came back…” he said as soon as he saw his sister.. I watched as Hikaru she retreat back inside the house. She looked so lifeless, like someone have taken out her soul. It was breaking my heart to see her like this. “Hikaru have been like that since she learned about grandpa’s condition…” Aiba said. I looked up at him, and he gave me a sad smile. “I thought that when she sees you, her depression would somehow lessen but… but I was wrong…” he continued.
I looked by the door, wondering how Hikaru was coping with everything. “She’s not used to this…” AIba said once again. “When we were young, we had a car accident, and she saw our dad die before her very eyes. Since then, she was never the same again. I’m afraid that if grandpa…” he paused for a while, and shook his head. “I wish things would not happen this way. I… I’m so worried about her.” He continued. What can I tell him? Can I tell him not to worry, for everything will be OK? I know not everything will be all right, and Hikaru will not be all right. I knew that a tragedy will soon struck their family, and she will never be ready for it. She will never be ready to lose her grandpa.
I walked inside the house, into Rihito-sensei’s room. He was sitting up with a book in his hand. He looked up at me, and smiled. “Ya Lun! I’m glad you were able to come!” he said. There was a weak smile on his face. I smiled back, and nodded my head. I walked up to him, and sat on a chair beside him. “It’s spring once again, isn’t it?” he asked. “It is.” I told him. He looked outside the window, and I can see the smile slowly fade from his face. “It’s funny how seasons pass us by without us even knowing it. I’ve lived into 70 springs, and here I am…”
He looked at me, and let out another faint smile. “An old, sickly and weak man.” He said. “I don’t think you’re that old, Rihito-sensei.” I told him. “I can’t deny it anymore, Ya Lun. I am old, and one day, I will have to go.” He said. He let out a sigh as he looked outside the window again. “All my life, I had regrets, about things that I didn’t do, and words that I didn’t say. When my son died, I was not able to tell him how much I love him, and how much he made me proud of him. When my wife died, I was not there beside her to see her go. When Hikaru and Aiba was born, I wasn’t there to witness their arrival. There are mistakes I made, things I forget to do, things I regret to do… but all in all it sums up life. The measurement of how well you lived your life is with the things you have said and done, with the mistakes and the lessons you learned, with the regrets and the what-ifs…” he said.
“Are… are you ready? Are you ready to go? To leave us all behind?” I asked. I could hear my own voice quivering as I asked that question. “It’s not a question if I am ready to go. I am ready to face my death. It’s a question if the people who loved you are ready to let you go when you die…” he answered. “Hikaru? What about her?”
“Hikaru will have to accept it. She have not accepted her father’s death, because she was not ready for it. As for me… I will do everything to make her ready for my departure.”
“But will Hikaru be able to accept it?”
“All my life, I prayed to find someone who could take care of Hikaru, who could love her the way that I do. Who could protect her, and accept her for who she is. I prayed for someone to be there for her when she needs someone, and they sent you to her, Ya Lun. Knowing that you will always be there for her, I will be at ease, and I could die peacefully knowing that my granddaughter is in good hands.”
I lowered my head as he speaks. It is a great honor for me that he chose me to take care of Hikaru. But now, more than ever, I am scared. Not for myself, but for her. I can be there for her, that’s for sure. But I’m worried that Hikaru will not be able to accept things as they are. “You will take care of Hikaru, right, Ya Lun?” he asked. I looked up at him, and let out a smile. “You have my word.” I replied. “I will look after Hikaru from this day, onwards.”
As the springtime passes by, Rihito-sensei grew weaker and weaker each day. I made sure that I am there always for Hikaru to make her feel at ease. I know it was hurting her as well to see her grandfather dying.
It was one Saturday afternoon, and we were at Rihito-sensei’s room. Hikaru was sitting on the floor, her head was on her grandfather’s hand. “Grandpa…” she called. “Hmmmm…” Rihito-sensei said in a weak voice. “Are you… are you… going to where papa is?” she asked. I heard Rihito-sensei let out a weak laugh. “I am, if God will allow me to be with your father…” he said in a weak voice. I looked at Hikaru, and saw a tear falling from her eyes. “Grandpa… when… when you see papa… will you… will you tell him that I love him?” she said. Rihito-sensei smiled. “I will…”
“Will… will you tell him that… that I’m sorry… for that night… because… because I….”
He turned to her, and patted her head. “Hikaru-chan… it was not your fault. You were not at fault that night. It was… an accident, and no one blames you for that…” he said weakly. She closed her eyes, and let the tears fall down from her eyes. “I’m going to miss you, grandpa… I know you’re tired… really, really tired… you can rest now… I promise I will be OK… I will try to be OK….” She whispered. “When I’m gone, I will still watch you from above, my princess. I will always look after you… and someone else will take care of you when I’m gone…” he said.
He looked up at me, and smiled. He mouthed a word of thanks to me as he consoled Hikaru. I took a deep breath, and smiled at him, and then I turned my back. I knew I had to be strong for them, especially for Hikaru. But at that moment, I wanted to break down and cry, but I can’t let them see how weak I feel inside. I don’t know if I could do it without Rihito-sensei. I don’t know if I could take care of Hikaru the way that he did for the past years. I don’t know if I had enough patience to be with her. But I know that I love her. And maybe he sees that love I have for her, that he is more than willing to hand her to me, to ask me to take care of her. But still, I’m scared. I’m scared that I will disappoint him, and that I will disappoint myself and Hikaru even more.
Maybe it’s OK to scared once in a while… and it’s OK to be scared at this moment.
Aiba and I were busy preparing breakfast, when we heard a loud cry at Rihito-sensei’s room. We looked at each other for a while, and then rushed to his room. As we opened the door, we saw Hikaru by the floor. She was holding onto Rihito-sensei’s hand, and she was crying. “Grandpa….” She cried. “Grandpa… why did you have to leave now? Why now? Grandpa…”
I felt like someone poured cold water on my back. I slowly walked onto Rihito-sensei’s bed. I saw him sleeping peacefully, with a smile on his face. “Rihito-sensei…” I whispered. I held his hand, and felt how cold it was. I knelt down, and put my ear onto his chest, trying to feel his heartbeat, but I couldn’t feel it. I could hear his heart beating. I couldn’t feel his slow breathing.
Rihito-sensei is gone. He left me, Hikaru, and Aiba. He left the people he loved the most. He left us without giving us a chance to say goodbye for the last time.
I bit my lips as the tears finally fell from my eyes. He was the father figure to me while I’m staying here at the uni. He was the one giving me words of wisdom, especially when I needed it most. And now that he is gone, I felt like a lost sheep. Life, I guess, will never be the same without Rihito-sensei.
I looked at Hikaru, who is still crying hard after knowing that her grandfather passed away quietly. I put my arms around her, and pulled her into a hug. Together, we cried for our loss. I knew that moment that she needed me, and I needed her as well. She needed to cry to me. She needed someone to hold her and make her feel all right. With her in my arms, I could feel all my fears slowly disappearing. I felt like there was nothing to worry about. It was as if being with Hikaru and take care of her is something I’ve always wanted to do for the rest of my life. I looked down at her, and she was crying on my shoulder. “Hikaru…” I whispered. I pulled her close to me, and let her cry even more. “Ssssshhhh….” I whispered ot her. “Hush now, Hikaru… I am here… I will always be here for you… you still have me… I won’t leave you, ever…”
From that moment on, I will have to take care of her. I will do everything for her. I promised Rihito-sensei that.
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Labels: fan fic, So It's You