Sunday January 27, 2013
In memory of Tomoko
By SARAH MORI
A year on, friends and family still recall how this lovely person touched the lives of all she knew.
I STILL remember the morning when Tomoko sang together with the worship team for the Sunday church service on Jan 1 last year.
Her red suit, her cheerful face and her superb voice. She was also the usher on that day, which was the Japanese New Year.
We were shocked to learn that Tomoko was taken by ambulance to a hospital near her house the next day.
It seemed her blood glucose level had shot up tremendously, so she had to be transferred to another hospital. She then suffered a stroke that paralysed the left side of her body.
Tomoko drifted in and out of consciousness.
“I have informed your office. Rest well and don’t worry,” her husband, Yoshio, assured her.
With eyes closed, Tomoko nodded her head and smiled.
We prayed and hoped against hope. However, more complications set in and her heart started to give her problems.
It has been a year since Tomoko passed away peacefully on Jan 6.
She had sung at the funerals of our church members. We never thought we would sing for her at her funeral and memorial service held on Jan 11.
Tomoko was only 54 when she passed on. In another month’s time, she would have celebrated her 30th wedding anniversary. Yoshio had hoped that they would be able to commemorate it with a trip together.
Tomoko was a music teacher at the same school where she met Yoshio. She quit her job to raise her two children and look after her parents-in-law.
Later, she worked as a counsellor at a counselling centre for parents with child-raising issues.
When Tomoko and her older sister were in elementary school, their father passed on. They were raised single-handedly by their mother who later became a Christian.
Tomoko used to train us for Christmas carolling.
When we went carolling in our neighbourhood, she would sing the solo for the first part of the song, O Holy Night. Her voice resonated so beautifully that the neighbours would listen in awe.
One Christmas, when she couldn’t participate in the carolling due to a cold, some neighbours asked about her as they missed hearing her voice.
Her mother-in-law attended our carolling for the first time in 2011. Sadly, it was also the last time she would hear Tomoko sing O Holy Night.
Tomoko was a good cook. Every Christmas, her tiramsu cake would be scraped clean during our potluck lunch after Sunday service.
Yoshio has always commended Tomoko: “She was a good woman, wife, mother, and daughter-in-law. I have lost my closest consultant.”
Tomoko’s mother-in-law once told me: “Tomoko had never once complained about me. Look, this is the sweater she bought for me. She was a good daughter-in-law.”
True. I could attest to that. I had never heard her complain about her in-laws – not even once.
Our tears fell like rain as we bade farewell to Tomoko lying in the casket. It must have been more difficult for the two octogenarians (Tomoko’s mother and mother-in-law) to see her leaving this world before them.
“Tomoko, arigatou,” her mother-in-law tearfully thanked her.
And Tomoko’s mother kept touching Tomoko’s face before the hearse left for the crematorium.
Tomoko was also everyone’s friend and a faithful servant of the Lord.
Looking at her sweet smiling portrait, we could feel her infectious warmth and love. Our church sanctuary was so packed with people coming to pay their last respects at her memorial service that some had to stand at the back or near the door.
Although we had never expected God to call her home so suddenly, God is never wrong. God doesn’t make mistakes; He knows best.
Had Tomoko survived, it would have taken some time for her to recover from her paralysis. As it turned out, eight months later, Yoshio discovered that he had first stage thymus cancer and had to undergo surgery.
We may have lost a member of our church, but we gained three more as Tomoko’s mother-in-law and her two children became Christians. God had granted Tomoko’s heart desire.
To our dearest Tomoko, God be with you till we meet again.