A Meditation read by Tomoo Ishida at the Memorial to Kazuko Ishida

at the Bach Grove in Tsukuba on March 22nd, 2009

Kazuko's Parents

Kazuko Ishida was born in Tokyo on January 17th, 1929.

Seizaburo Kimura, her father, was from Shiga, a neighbouring prefecture of Kyoto. At the age of 17 he went to Canada. He served in the World War I as a volunteer nurse soldier and was given the Canadian citizenship after the war. Then he studied at Toronto University, where he met Mr. Cayley. About 30 years later Rev. Cayley, a pastor in Rochester, N.Y., invited Kazuko to his home as her guarantor when she went to study at Eastman School of Music in Rochester.

Fumi, Kazuko's mother, was from Kyoto. After graduating from a high school, she got a prominent scholarship from Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia and studied there five years, 1915`20. After coming home, she became a lecturer at Tokyo Girls' Higher Normal School (later Ochanomizu Women's University). She married Seizaburo Kimura, an interpreter of the Canadian legation in Tokyo, in 1927 and gave birth to Kazuko in 1929. Kazuko was the only child of the family.

Young Girlhood

Seizaburo, Kazuko's father, became Christian after emigrating to Canada, got interested in the religion, completely new for him, and eventually studied theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York. But he did not become a pastor. At the same seminary Kazuko studied sacred music about 30 years later.

Fumi, Kazuko's mother, belonged to one of the oldest Protestant Christian families in Japan. Kazuko was baptized when she was a baby at a church in Setagaya, Tokyo. Every Sunday she went to the church with her parents. Curiously enough, Tomoo went to the kindergarten attached to the same church from Monday to Friday. About 40 years later they realized for the first time after marriage the gnear missh between them in the childhood.

Kazuko was brought up under the strong influence of her mother. She entered the kindergarten, primary school, and high school affiliated to Tokyo Girls' Higher Normal School where her mother was a lecturer. She spent the period of her schoolgirl during the World War II. When she was 15 years old, all the girl students of the high school had to leave the school to factories every day where they made parts of bullets. When American air raids became heavier in Tokyo, Kazuko evacuated in group to Niigata where she stayed several months until the end of the war in 1945.

During the period of her primary school, however, Japanese citizens were able to enjoy still a normal life, although Japan was at war with China. Kazuko began to take a piano lesson when she was a pupil of the lower classes of the primary school. Recognizing Kazuko's musical talent, her mother arranged a serious lesson with Mr. Motonari Iguchi, one of the leading pianists in Japan at that time. Since Kazuko liked music, she continued to the lesson until the war became heavier. She told me later, however, that truly speaking, she did not like to go to the lesson. She was sometimes terified with Mr. Iguchi's hard lesson and wept. However, she also remebered that Mrs. Iguchi showed her same melodies running after each other in Bach's Invention. Kazuko got very interested in the structure. This was her first encounter with Bach. In any case, the fundamental education of music she got at that time was useful for good preparations for being organist afterward.

Study in the USA

After the war Japan was in ruin, but the young generation gained self-confidence to drive the postwar rehabilitation. Against this social background, Kazuko, now in high-teens, finally began to think about her life by herself. Seeking after the Christian faith anew, she made a confession of faith at Yumicho-Hongo Church in Tokyo. At the same time, she decided not to continue the piano lesson with Mr. and Mrs. Iguchi. Kazuko became doubtful about the lesson aiming at a competition for victory. In those days, she happened to see an advertisement of Christian Music School which was now open for applications for enrollment. What flashed upon her was that she got a calling for a church organist. At that time she was 19 years old.

At the same school Kazuko received first organ lessons from Mr. Eizaburo Kioka, one of the pioneers in organ music in Japan. So far as she remembered, however, what he taught was not so much about technical skill but his dream and passion about organ music, beautiful sounds of big organs which he played in Europe and USA, and great German and French organists with whom he studied. Mr. Kioka gave Kazuko a dream of studying organ in USA.

Approving of her plan to go to USA to study organ, her parents wrote to their friends there. Then, Rev. and Mrs. Caylay in Rochester, N.Y., kindly offered to invite Kazuko to their home. Otherwise, Kazuko couldn't have realized her dream. It was a difficult time for Japanese to go abroad after the war because of the strict limitation on the amount of foreign currency to be taken out. Moreover, it was lucky for Kazuko that Eastman School of Music, one of the leading music schools in USA, was a department of Rochester University.

In 1950, at the age of 21, Kazuko went to USA. It was only five years after the end of the war, even before the peace treaty between Japan and USA was concluded. The American general public still looked upon Japanese as enemy. We cannot but regard the decision of Kazuko, a young lady who had never left her home in her life until that time, as audacious. Kazuko made a radical decision to open up a new way three times in her life. This was the first one.

Rev. and Mrs. Cayley had four children about the same ages as Kazuko's. Being accepted as though their fifth child, Kazuko enjoyed the four-year student life at Eastman. She studied very hard in every subject. Among others, she got the fundamental training of the skill of organ performance from Mrs. Catherine C. Gleason, one of the leading organists in USA at that time. Kazuko got acquainted with wide range of organ music from baroque, romantic to modern periods. Although the world of organ music was fascinating, however, she felt a problem about the education aiming at bringing up concert organists at Eastman. Didn't I come to study in USA to get training for a church organist? She couldn't forget the first calling. After graduating from Eastman, she matriculated in Union Theological Seminary, where her father studied about 30 years ago, to major sacred music and got Master of Sacred Music in 1957.

When Kazuko graduated from Eastman School of Music, her parents were at the ages of 72 and 67, respectively. They did not agree with Kazuko's plan to continue study abroad, since they missed very much the only daughter. She never came home for four years. It was very difficult for ordinary Japanese at that time to travel abroad. However, Kazuko persuaded them and moved to New York City without their help. Since her scholarship was not enough to make a living, she lived in at Prof. Reihold Niebuhr, a famous theologian, as a maid, and sometimes worked as an interpreter or a baby-sitter. While studying sacred music, she enjoyed the ecumenical atmosphere at the Seminary free from the rigorous doctrinarianism. She got acquainted with various liturgies of all sorts of denominations, churches and religions, including Judaism.

Organist at Tokyo Union Church and Organ Teacher

In 1957, at the age of 28, Kazuko came home after seven-year study in USA. She was invited to Christian Music School as the head of the organ department, while served as an organist and a choir director at Tokyo Union Church. This is an international church mainly for English speaking people. At the same time, she was very active in various activities: teaching organ at short courses organized by churches and making concerts in all over Japan.

During this period, 14 years between 1957 and 1971, while being kept very busy as one of the leading organists in Japan, Kazuko couldn't stop asking herself if this was the office of a church organist for which she got a calling. She couldn't find answer. Something is different from which she has aimed at. But what? In addition, it was a decisive unfavorable factor that Tokyo Union Church had no organ but a Hammond. Naturally, she was unable to make sounds of pipe organ according to her demands by the Hammond.

At the same time, she had no opportunity to make travel abroad during this period. She began to feel a frustration about her situation in which she was unable to learn directly the new trends in organ music especially in Europe. In order to break the blocking situation, she participated in the International Summer Academy for Organists in Haarlem, Holland, in 1971. In the Academy where organists from all over the world learnt together with prominent teachers like Anton Heiller, Marie-Claire Alain, Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini, Kazuko found at once that she was gundernourishedh. In fact, after that she participated repeatedly in this kind of academies in Europe once in several years and learnt again organ music.

Organist at the (German) Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem

When participating in the Academy in Haalrem, Kazuko had another plan. She asked Tomoo in Jerusalem if he would guide her to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. It was her organ concert at a church in Tokyo immediately after her coming home from USA when she met Tomoo for the first time. There were common friends who introduced Tomoo to her after the concert. However, while Kazuko was already a prominent organist, Tomoo was a mere student of Tokyo Union Theological Seminary, a young man three years younger than her. Nobody couldn't imagine that Kazuko would marry Tomoo in the future, including themselves.

At that time, however, Tomoo began to learn organ at the seminary with Mr. Kioka, Kazuko's first organ teacher. Then he joined a private small group studying sacred music and met there Kazuko again. After coming into friends with her, when Kazuko gave a concert at a church, Tomoo suggested that he would give a short lecture about music which she would play in the concert. After the concert she told him, however, that she regretted to have agreed with his suggestion when he had continued to talk too long. In any case, Tomoo was an immature young man who couldn't be a candidate of Kazuko's bridegroom.

Five years after Kazuko got acquainted with Tomoo, he went to Israel to study history of Jewish people and the Bible at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1962. Since then, he continued to stay there and never came home for nine years. In the beginning they wrote letters each other telling how they were getting along but soon their contact became not so much but exchanging Christmas cards. Therefore, if Kazuko had not set her mind on a travel to Jerusalem after the Academy in Holland, Kazuko and Tomoo would have passed by each other for ever. It was her inspiration to fasten them together. In several days after meeting again after nine-year blank they agreed to marry by the end of the year. The time was ripe.

However, Tomoo was still an immature man, who had no regular job at the age of around 40 and was immersed in study of the Jewish history. It was natural for her father to oppose her marriage with Tomoo. In contrast, her mother, at the age of 81, said to her: gGo to Jerusalem free from family cares, if you will be happy.h In the beginning of December 1971, Kazuko came to Tomoo in Jerusalem alone, being almost disowned by her father and leaving her mother, friends, and job. This was the second one after going to study in USA among three decisions which Kazuko made to open up a new way in her 80-year life. She was 42 years old at that time.

Kazuko stayed in Jerusalem three years and a half. It was one of the happiest time in her life from the viewpoint that she could concentrate on playing organ in the intellectual milieu with Tomoo's friends. Although their income was very small, they really enjoyed a simple life.

After Kazuko's visit in the end of the summer, Tomoo happened to hear of a news that the Church of the Redeemer in the Old City was looking for an organist. He went to the church and left a letter to the Propst saying: gI will get married to a Japanese organist in December. She is an excellent organist. Will you take her as an organist?h Tomoo had no confidence if he would get an answer. A few days after Kazuko arrived, however, he got a telephone call from the church. Kazuko went to the church with him. Then the Propst told her: gSince the church has no budget for orgnist, you will be paid IL 20 (\ 2,400) as the honorarium for each service.h Though an astonishingly small amount of money, Kazuko was very happy to be organist having an organ at her disposal. Last 14 years after coming home from USA she had a hard time in Japan to find an organ on which she was able to make practice.

When getting the life back in which she could play organ every day, Kazuko had a desire to make an organ concert. In the beginning the Propst was not interested in the plan. On condition that, however, Tomoo would be responsible for all the works including making programs, tickets, advertisement and so on, Kazuko was permitted to hold an organ recital in the spring in the next year after marriage. The church of 350 seats was full house and the enthusiastic audience gave a storm of applause after Kazuko finished playing the last piece (J. S. Bach: Fantasia et Fuga in g-Moll BWV 542) . Being unfamiliar with such enthusiasm, she was petrified with surprise on the organ loft. Jim, an American friend who helped to hold the concert, came up and took Kazuko to the front of the altar to make her greet the applause.

All the critics made favorable comments about the organ recital on the Hebrew, English, and German newspapers. This was the start of a series of church concerts which found much public appeal and became an integral part of Jerusalem's cultural scene. It is to be told about a unique social situation in Jerusalem where citizens of different faiths live side by side. A large majority of the audience of the organ recital was Jewish citizens who never visit a Christian church except touristic interest. Kazuko realized the universality of sacred music which became the starting point of the Bach Grove 15 years later.

After the first organ concert was successful from every point of view, the Propst approved that Kazuko would organize a series of church concerts. They were held almost once in two months together with Jewish musicians or organists from Europe. Kazuko gave her organ recital twice in a year. Her organ music was broadcasted several times from Qol-Israel (Israel National Broadcasting Organization). She was also asked by Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) in Tel-Aviv to play organ parts with famous conductors like Barenboim and Bernstein.

Nevertheless, Kazuko never regarded these activities as her main task. Her greatest concern was always to be a church organist. In every Sunday service at the German church in Jerusalem she had an important experience. Since studying organ in USA, Kazuko had always served as an organist at American churches. After services she often received kind words of appreciation about her performance from the congregation. However, there was few to comment on music which she had played. She generally chose music for a service at a church mainly from J. S. Bach's chorale preludes, organ music based on chorales, German traditional hyms. Since, unfortunately, German chorales are not familiar to American Christians, she had felt uneasy about a gap between her intention and the appreciation of the congregation.

Now there were deaconesses among the congregation of the German church in Jerusalem. They solved the problem with which Kazuko had been troubled. They knew not only all the chorales which Kazuko played but also sang them every day with soul and heart. They told her nothing about her performance from the technical point of view but expressed their feeling about the chorales which she played. Then she realized that this reaction was what she had looked for. And she came to the conclusion that chorale preludes could be played in a shape it should be when both the player and the congregation held in common the understanding of the texts and melodies of chorales. Later in the Bach Grove, therefore, it became one of the most important studies to learn the texts and melodies of chorales before playing chorale preludes on organ. This is a quite different approach from teaching at music schools where chorale preludes are dealt with as a pure musical piece.

In relation to the above problem, Kazuko found an answer to another question which she had had for a long time. Is there any difference in playing organ for a service at a church from playing for a concert? An opinion Kazuko sometimes heard was that there is no difference. From her experience with the German deaconesses, however, she felt sure that there is a large difference but, at that time, she felt just instinctively and couldn't explain clearly.

While studying later sacred music in the Bach Grove, she realized that the words: gSoli Deo Gloriah, which church musicians in the baroque period, including J. S. Bach, often put down in the end of their compositions, showed that difference. The words tell that one to be praised is God alone. In other words, church musicians should not seek after their own glory. In any case, Kazuko always felt the greatest joy not in praise for her performance but in sharing common appreciation through music she made. Otherwise, she wouldn't have established the Bach Grove.

Settled Down in Tsukuba Science City and Her Third Decision

In 1974 Tomoo finally submitted his PhD dissertation about history of ancient Israel to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem after 12 year-study in Jerusalem and was appointed as a part-time lecturer at the same university. But when he was invited by University of Tsukuba, newly established in Tsukuba Science City, Tomoo accepted the invitation. Then Kazuko and Tomoo came home after 8 month-stay in Heidelberg in spring 1976. Kazuko made up with her father. Her mother was very glad of Kazuko's coming home with Tomoo but passed away suddenly at the age of 86 on April 14th, only 6 weeks after her daughter's return. She was on the strain until Kazuko's homecoming. She told Kazuko on her deathbed: gBe together always with Tomoo!h

Kazuko was shocked by the death of her mother, the best sympathizer of Kazuko throughout her life, and much regretted that she was a bad daughter. After that Kazuko had to lead a double life for her old father's care in Tokyo and the life with Tomoo in Tsukuba. At that time the new city Tsukuba was hard to access from Tokyo without a railroad or a highway. It took more than two hours for one way from Kazuko's house in Tokyo to Tuskuba. Eventually, when it was too difficult for her to take care of her father who grew much senile, she put him in an old-age home in Hitachi-Ota and she visited her father there at least once a week by two-hour driving for one way.

Kazuko lost again organ. After the life with organ in Jerusalem and Heidelberg it had to be unbearable for her. Nevertheless, she lived in a positive and energetic manner: she organized a study group of church organists in Yokohama, went to Junshin Girl's College in Hachioji to teach organ, and visited her father. It took two or three hours from Tsukuba to those places. Moreover, as finding that the new city Tsukuba was a desert from the cultural point of view, Kazuko started, in cooperation with Tomoo, a reed organ class at a small living room of their own house and then organized a chorus group singing Bach. In 1980 this chorus group became Tsukuba Bach Choir with more than 100 members and gave concerts twice in a year at the university hall. On the basis of these activities, the Bach Grove was established in 1985.

I will tell a story about the Bach Grove in details how it was established and how it developed for last 24 years at the 25th anniversary in 2010. It is to be told here, however, about Kazuko's dream and contribution without which the Bach Grove would have never come into existence.

Before planning how to raise money for building organ, Kazuko began to look for an ideal organ for her purpose by visiting several organ factories in Europe. According to her plan, since chorales were the foundation on which J. S. Bach built his church music, our organ should be suitable to accompanying chorale singing of the congregation and playing Bach's chorale preludes. Therefore, Kazuko had a conviction that organ is not a private but a public instrument. Naturally such an organ is to be built in a church. However, as regarding the fact that the Christian is a very small minority in Japan, only one percent of the whole population, Kazuko agreed with Tomoo's opinion that our organ should be built not in a church, a religious organization in the narrow sense of the word, but in a hall managed by a non-religious society, by exploiting the universality of sacred music, which attracted Jewish citizens to church concerts in Jerusalem.

In 1980 Kzuko's father died at the age of 95 and Kazuko inherited a land and a house in Tokyo and a forestry in Shiga prefecture, valued at 230 million yen (\ 230,000,000). She naturally consulted with Tomoo how to dispose of the real estate. Tomoo suggested that with this amount of money we could establish a cultural society by which an ideal organ woud be built. Although dreaming the same dream with her, Tomoo did not know the economy in the secular world. Since Kazuko consulted with such a person, she had to have managed with Tomoo a totally unprofitable society until the end. The money was enough for the cost of construction but no working expense was counted. However, Kazuko decided at once that all the money which she inherited should be contributed to the project, disregarding no property was inherited by her except the above land, house, and forestry. This was the third and last radical decision which she made, after going to USA to study organ and going to Tomoo in Jerusalem. She was 51 years old at that time.

The Last Four Weeks

During 24 years after the establishment of the Bach Grove in 1985, Kazuko acquired in cooperation with Tomoo an ideal organ, built by Jurgen Ahrend, gathered people with whom she could share a deep appreciation for sacred music of which the greatest composer was J. S. Bach, and played the role of a gchurch organisth that she finally found after a long quest. I will tell all her activities in the Bach Grove at the 25th anniversary in the next year.

In the Bach Grove she was always vigorous with good spirits. In the light of the result that was known later she was so healthy as dismiss lightly the regular medical checkup. As feeling anemia in November 2007, she got a close examination. She was diagnosed with cancer of the colon and was told that it was too late for a surgical operation because of its wide spread to the intestines. After playing organ at the Christmas concert on December 16th, she went to hospital on the 25th. After 4 week-rest at the hospital, she recovered amazingly. In the end of March 2008 she returned to the activities in the Bach Grove. As becoming active again as before, she didn't look a ill person. Moreover, nobody heard from her a pessimistic word about her illness. In reality she was going hospital once in two weeks to take chemo treatment.

However, in the end of summer her strength clearly began to decline and in September she was hospitalized twice. In October she began to suffer from abdominal dropsy with pain and became hardly to eat because of swelling of the abdomen. As she was very weak, it became difficult for her to stand up by herself or walk. Nevertheless, she played organ in a regular program on October 18th, made an organ demonstration to a chorus group from a neighbouring town on November 3rd, attended a seminar of church music on the 21st, and gave an organ lesson on the 24th. When hearing about the lesson later, I wondered how she went up to the organ loft by herself with her weakened strength. In any case, the lesson gave her the last opportunity to play organ.

As she became too weak and the pain increased, the hospital received her into the palliative care unit (PCU) on December 2nd. After four weeks there she passed away on the 30th. During the last four weeks she lived a full life from a spiritual point of view. While noticing the strength was declining every day, she was always cheerful to live in a positive manner. She must have felt a sense of fulfillment to the highest degree in her 80-year life. A nurse told me later that distinctive tranquility always reigned her room where she was pondering alone without any sound such as music or TV.

The following day I was told by the lady physician in charge of Kazuko that her condition was so serious that no one was sure if she could live through the weekend. I asked her: gPlease, don't tell Kazuko the real condition!h When being received into the PCU, she was told that she would get here a palliative care but no treatment for healing any more. However, she never gave up. She brought with her to the hospital five kinds of herb medicine and continued to take them regularly with marking records scrupulously when she took. In those days Kazuko told me that she was now making a new plan of the organ lesson of the next year.

In fact, after receiving a good care for a week, the pain decreased a little and she felt better. In the weekend, December 6th, we had an organ concert by Mr. Lorenzo Ghielmi from Milan. I couldn't but skip everyday visit but the following day Kazuko and I enjoyed a conversation as usual, among others, about the performance of the Italian organist. I told her: gThe solo stop ofsNun komm, der Heiden Heilandt(BWV 659) was too bright for our ears familiar to your gently moist performance.h Kazuko replied: gIt seems difficult to understand for those who live in southern countries from the Alps the German shadowy climate.h

In the second week, she looked much better but the strength was doubtlessly so declining that she could hardly walk by herself three steps to the washroom in her private room. Then she began to learn rehabilitation exercises to walk in the bed. She expected her comeback to activities in the Bach Grove next spring. At the same time, she made friends with all four physicians and 22 nurses who took care of her by turns in the PCU. She remembered all their names by heart, called them by names and enjoyed conversations with them as friends. She gave a nurse a birthday card and wrote: gIt will be my treasure in my life to meet all of you, angels.h Kazuko was also deeply moved by words of a nurse: gPlease, share with us not only your pleasure but also your pain and distress!h

In the weekend, December 13th, I couldn't visit her again because of the Christmas concert and party at the Bach Grove. The following day I got a telephone call from her about the noon as usual. By the way, she had an one way telephone at her bedside. So every day I got her call by which she told me her condition and asked me something to do or to bring something to her. Then I visited her early afternoon and left the hospital before the supper time, at 6 o'clock. She asked me to bring slides about the Christmas story which Kazuko and I made with slides of famous religious paintings mainly from the Renaissance period, with a slide-projector. I went and found Kazuko's small room was full with nurses free for a while. They enjoyed the slides with my reading of the Christmas story. Then there was a surprise. That day, December 14th, was my 77th birthday. The nurses with Kazuko sang for me: gHappy birthday to youh , and Kazuko presented me a red rose flower and a birthday card. Then we took two photos: a photo of Kazuko and Tomoo, another of Kazuko and Tomoo with all the nurses.

In the beginning of the third week, I met again the lady physician in charge. She told me: gAlthough Kazuko amazingly has stood, I am not sure if she could greet the New Year. It seems, however, that she does not think but to live. If she has any message to leave, I would like to advise her to do so now.h I replied to her that, since Kazuko and I had always talked everything including the partner's death, there remained nothing to talk specially now. After her death, however, I couldn't but realize that I, Tomoo, did not want to admit that her death was imminent, while Kazuko already prepared for death at that time.

In the middle of this week, I got a telephone call from Kazuko exceptionally early in the morning about at 8:30. She told me: gI was reborn. I have been anxious till now about you as well as about the Bach Grove. But I realized that it is not necessary to worry because everything will be done according to the plan. I am sure that the next year will be a good year.h On December 20th, Megumi Hiruma, the director of the Bach Grove Choir, visited Kazuko to bring with her a personal computer to make her listen to the performance of the choir and the organists at the Christmas concert last week. Kazuko enjoyed it. When my younger sister visited on the 22nd, Kazuko still showed that she was in good spirits. But she already couldn't turn over by herself in bed.

In the beginning of the fourth week, on the 23rd, after I stayed with her all day long, as I started to go home as usual, she said: gDon't go home now! This evening you will make me eat supper before going home.h Her supper was just a small cup of fruit jelly. Since already she couldn't eat it by herself, I spooned up jelly and brought it to her mouth. She said: gO you are clumsy. Much slowly, much less amount!h While complaining, she ate it tastily and happily. Later I realized that this supper was her first adieu to me. Since she was always happy and peaceful, everybody was deceived that she did not perceived her imminent end. Now I can say, she did understand her real condition. Nevertheless, she did not stop to take five kinds of herb medicine regularly with marking records scrupulously when she took. This medicine was her last support to live. The records stopped suddenly on the 25th.

On the 26th Kazuko's condition took a sudden turn for the worse. Early in the morning again about at 8:30, I got a telephone call from Kazuko with help of a nurse. She said: gCould you come now?h When arriving soon at her room, I realized that she felt in advance that her consciousness would begin to grow dim. It was already difficult for her to open her eyes. All of a sudden she said to me with a peaceful voice: gWill you please prepare the funeral?h For the first time, she said about her end. This was her second adieu. I made a stupid answer: gToo early.h After a while she asked me: gAre you making preparations for taking me home?h I replied: gWhen you will be able to walk by yourself, I will take you home. Isn't it our plan?h She said: gYes, it is.h Her consciousness was already in a muddle. From this time on, I always remained with her and continued to whisper with stroking gently her hands: gI am here with you. Don't worry!h As having difficulty in breathing, she opened wide her mouth and distorted her face with pain.

It was in the morning on the 28th, Sunday. I sit at Kazuko's bedside. She could not open her eyes any more, while sometimes groaning with weak voices. Since her voices were too weak, I tried to catch what she wanted by bringing my ear near her mouth. All of a sudden, she raised her arms high. I was surprised and asked her: gWhat do you want?h When I leaned over her face to try to listen to her, suddenly she hugged my neck firmly. Foolishly enough, I couldn't understand what she showed by hugging. I remained for a while as she did in a clumsy position over the guard of the bed. When her strength was gone, I stood up, took away the guard and whispered: gYou can hug me now without obstacle.h However, she didn't move again. The moment I understood that Kazuko bade me her last adieu with her last strength by coming out from the dark consciousness.

After that she still struggled physically to live 48 more hours. I sit at the bedside from morning to night with some rest at home. By the way, it takes only 10 minutes by car from my house to the hospital. At 10 o'clock in the night of the 29th, a nurse suggested me to go home to rest for a while and she would call me up whenever Kazuko's condition would change. The moment I slept in at home, there was a telephone call from the nurse at 2 o'clock in the morning. I went back soon to the hospital and sit again at her bedside. But Kazuko fought to a finish. At 7 o'clock I went home again. Then there was a telephone call again from the nurse at 8:40 and she told: gWhile I left her alone a few minutes, she passed away. Since I found it now, it is assumed that she breathed her last breath at 8:35.h My impression was that Kazuko went to the other world when she made sure that nobody was present.

As rushed to the hospital, I found that Kazuko's countenance which had been contorted with pain and breathe with difficulty came back to peaceful looks. I wondered at her lively appearance as if she were breathing quietly. A nurse staying there with me told me the same impression.

In this manner, Kazuko died at 8 o'clock 35 minutes in the morning, December 30th, 2008, at the age of almost 80 years old, short by 18 days.

Kazuko's Death and Our Life

So Kazuko died but we must continue to live. We know, it is common to all. However, I must confess that I had no idea as to what actually it meant until Kazuko died. Although I am still so confused to explain the situation well, let me tell you several words I have tried to put in order. First of all, I have been surprised by sorrow which suddenly welled up time and again within me. I asked myself: gWhy?h

I lost my parents through death at the ages of 10 and 14, respectively. I thought I learnt from the experience that Man is mortal. Perhaps I was too young to understand the real meaning of sorrow caused by a death of family members. It is likely that I accepted the death of my parents as one of natural phenomena. I told myself that Kazuko's death was also a natural phenomenon. But it was in vain I might overcome my sorrow. On the other hand, news about the deceased are reported all the time all over the world. Somebody, a celebrity or a commoner, died everyday either by a natural or an accidental death. However, we rarely wept sad tears about them. It is a social phenomenon. Kazuko's death taught me that there is another death from death as a natural or a social phenomenon. It is ga death of my / our loveh. At the same time, I realized that ga death of my / our loveh is a purely personal affair. Therefore, ga death of my / our loveh awakens me ^us to the fact that I am ^we are supported also by the invisible world about which I ^we generally forget when living from day to day.

After taking to mourning for Kazuko in January, we started the activities in the Bach Grove in the beginning of February. Since then we have studied Bach's gJohannes-Passionh (BWV 245) in six weeks. Mainly because February and March were the Lent season according to the church calendar, we chose this music. But it was appropriate to think over Kazuko's death. From the study of the gJohannes-Passionh we were convinced, among others, that the Narratives of the Passion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension was a report of the disciples who experienced ga death of their loveh. According to the narratives, after the resurrection Jesus appeared repeatedly in sight of the disciples and soon disappeared. This story reminded me of my sorrow which suddenly welled up time and again within me, and gave me an answer to my question to myself: gWhy?h

Then, how to overcome the sorrow? The last chorus before the last chorale in the gJohannes-Passionh sings as follows:

gRuht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine, die ich nun weiter nicht weine.h

However, we can hardly sing yet today: gNow I don't weep any longer.h How shall we be able to sing such a song? I find a suggestion in one of the parables of Jesus: gUnless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruithiJohn 12: 24). Kazuko died like a grain of wheat falling into the earth. We succeeded to the Bach Grove which she founded and made it grow by putting all her property, energy, heart and soul. When we will bear much fruit in the Bach Grove and will make this year a good year after Kazuko's hopes and expectations: gI am sure that the next year will be a good yearh, we may sing: gIch nun weiter nicht weine.h I hope we will be able to sing the song in the near future.