It has been a very long time since I have participated in the OWLS blog tour. Some months I struggle to find something to talk about or am just completely overwhelmed by other blogging/personal happenings. But this month, as soon as I read the prompt, it was like a light bulb went off. Our theme for August is ‘Journey’, and when I read that I immediately thought of my own emotional journey from last November when my grandfather died from cancer. Often people joke about the cliche ‘5 stages of grief’ but when you actually go through it, you realise how true it is, but that’s not the only way to think about death and loss. Recently, when I picked up a manga called ‘Natsuyuki Rendezvous’ it brought back all the feeling I had 6 months ago and changed the way I viewed my grandfather’s passing.
We have all heard this saying in some shape or form: “Life is a journey.” We travel down a path in hope that we reach a goal or destination, but the travel in getting there isn’t always easy. Along the way, we encounter some personal struggles. It is in those moments where we must overcome an adversity to complete our journey or take a different route or path instead. In this month’s OWLS post, we will be discussing the personal journeys of pop culture creators, icons, and characters. We will explore the journeys that these characters went through, discuss the process and experiences they had on their journeys, what they discover about themselves, or share our own personal journeys.
Ryosuke Hazuki fell in love with flower shop owner Rokka Shimao at first sight. It seems like a gift from the heavens when the store puts up a sign hiring part-time workers. After working for over 6 months, Ryosuke’s feeling continue to grow for his boss. One day he meets her at her house (around the back of the shop) and sees a strange man. Initially annoyed that his love is unrequited he runs away, only later finding out who he saw was a ghost! That ghost was Atsuhi Shimao, Rokka’s husband who died 3 years earlier from an illness. As Hazuki and Rokka’s relationship develops, the series delves into the complicated emotions of moving on, grief and acceptance. Early on in the story, Atsuhi says a line,” I wonder who goes through more pain, the one who left or the one left behind?” , this really stuck with me and it’s how I’d like to examine each of the characters in the series within their individual journeys.
The One that Left
Even though Atsuhi died, he continues to stay by Rokka’s side as a ghost, watching over her. To him, it seems him personal journey is halted by his death, he is caught in limbo. His mind is clouded with anger at not living a full life with his wife. He knows he’s caught in a cycle of remunerating over the past, and what could have been. But he can’t do anything about it, his view of journey is narrow-minded. He can’t see how his memory takes on another journey. The people who were close to him, like Rokka, carry him through their lives, and memories of him influence the way they act and live.
The One Left Behind
Rokka’s journey is divided into very clear sections, there’s the life before Atsuhi’s death and the life after. On one section we see her opening up and falling in love and in the other, her learning to deal with her husband’s death. How unfair it was, and just like Atsuhi, thinks of what could have been. When my grandfather died I was never angry, I was just sad, the loss of someone who you always thought would be there is quite sickening. I felt like a part of me had disappeared, and it was strange knowing that I could never talk to him or laugh with him again. Just like Rokka, I had to learn how to pick pick up the pieces of her life and learn to live again. Rokka’s journey is one of self-love, to open oneself up to the opportunities that life throws at us, and to adapt to carrying the memory of a loved one with us when they can no longer be physically present.
A New Journey
As the old adage goes ‘when one door closes, another one opens’, life and death forms a continuous journey that we undertake. Those that end their physical journey become part of other people’s life journeys through memories. And the living must remember those they loved while going through the ups and downs of life. Reading ‘Natsuyuki Rendezvous’ helped bring me to terms with my grandfather’s death, and gave me the motivation to continue my journey.