Lifelong friendships were forged in the land of the rising sun. I believe my life was impacted by individuals who touched me in ways I had never been touched before. Of those who left a mark on my life I say Asako was definitely someone who stands out above the rest. How did I come to know this remarkable young woman?
It was via a meandering of paths we finally met. I started a class/center for children with Down’s Syndrome. In those days I was cutting through new territory and daring to come against the system there. I wanted the parents to know they didn’t have to hide their child away because each child had special gifting. As the moms and children ventured out each week they became pleasantly surprised at the things they discovered. The mom who found out her child could actually read! The mother’s who watched with tears in their eyes as their children created masterpieces.
One parent approached me to tell me of someone they wanted me to meet. She was in her late teens almost 20 and she was completely paralyzed. The only way she could communicate was via a paper marked with Hiragana. As she pointed to the various sounds, she created language….’wa’…’ta’…’shi’…’wa’ and she said “I” – well this was all very amazing, but my question was, “why do you want me to meet her?”
“Can you teach her English?”
“Wow- she wants to learn English?”
I didn’t promise anything, but I went to meet Asako. Of course I didn’t have a chance once I met her, she just is someone you want to be with. She was hit by a drunk truck driver when she was 11 and her two friends who were crossing the road with her died. She survived but she went beyond survival to living as no one I ever met before.
My Japanese improved as I would sound out what she was pointing to. Her English improved and pretty soon she was pointing to a English chart of letters. It took a lot longer to spell out the words- but I became adept at ‘guessing’ what word she was about to spell and as I said the word she would nod ferociously and skip to the next word. She was so eager to communicate.
Japan, the land of the rising sun, brought gems into my life. They enriched me.