A Daughter’s Last Goodbye

Wakana Kumagai, 6, waits for her mother Yoshiko after visiting the grave of her father, who was killed by the March 11 tsunami

In the face of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, words fail me. And fail me they should, for it is good to be speechless at the indescribable and the inconsolable, to be silent in the face of the inconceivable made real. Any words one could offer would mean little, be sounds empty and hollow unless matched by heart, matched or even better multiplied by feelings of sincerity and sympathy. Multiplied by a wave of empathy.

Reuters’ Toru Hanai expresses my response to the tsunami perfectly. His short, unbearably poignant photo essay is an affecting visit to the aching heart of grieving Japan.

Six-year-old Wakana Kumagai began to run from the car when she arrived at a temporary mass grave site in Higashi-Matsushima, Miyagi prefecture.

She had come to meet her father.

On that day Wakana attended an entrance ceremony for her elementary school. Afterward she went with her mother and older brother to the grave site. She showed off her dress and bright red school satchel as she described the entrance ceremony to her father. But her father, Kazuyuki, slept in the soil.

Continue reading: A daughter’s last goodbye by Toru Hanai.

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