Mayumi

Mayumi loved Chopin. She mentioned it to me the first day we met. I could see that love in her face. The same beauty found in Chopin's music was easily seen in her movements. The way she brought the tea, the way she washed the dishes, the way she sat in seiza on the tatami. The way she said "Thank you," in broken English.

She had the hands of a pianist. Supple and graceful, tenuous and fragile. Great power hid in those slender fingers.

Her writing was beautiful. Every stroke of every kanji was in its right place. The spacing between the characters gave energy to each line, and such beauty could only be created by compassionate hands.

I touched those hands on a number of occasions, and could understand completely the intimate and finite nature of life. I didn't want to give them back when I held them, but could not bring myself to keep them for fear of their destruction. They held great energy, but also frailty. They could express the fullness of life.

Mayumi loved Star Trek.

She had all of the films, every episode of every series, technical manuals, novels, novelizations, and could recite the lines of her favorite scenes off the top of her head. She was exposed to those stories at just the right time it would seem, and they stuck with her, quickly becoming her favorite.

Those stories - the best of them - tell the tale of what it is to be human. Perhaps she found something there that mirrored her own sorrow and struggles. As if they were tailored to her.

Last month she let me borrow Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan (my favorite), and Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home (her favorite). I had plans to ask her to join me in seeing the new Star Trek film when it opens on May 2009.

But on Monday the 10th, Mayumi passed away.

It is strange. Her voice is in my head. I can hear her laughing. I can see her smile. I can feel her hands. The memories are intact. But there is no one here trying to desperately cling to those memories, or to grieve for something that was lost.

Although she is gone, I didn't lose anything. I close my eyes and see her smiling, laughing, talking. She is wonderful. She is happy, and without fear. She is as I knew her.

Knowing her enriched my life. The moments were lovely, and it was very special. One never knows when the flower will wilt and die, but the beauty that is there during life is immense and accessible to everyone. You'll see it if you know how to look.

Akiko cried for her, and I could feel great sorrow. But when I cried later that night, I cried with a smile on my face. I was thankful for meeting her, seeing that smile, touching those hands. The moments we shared were unique, and I was so grateful for the opportunity to know her.

In my mind, she is just as happy as the last time I saw her. She is laughing, and grateful for every day she has.

And that is how she will always be remembered.