MihoCard

 I wrote a blog post titled "Miho's last thirty hours" the other day in Japanese. Then dear American friend of mine who is fluent in Japanese so kindly translated it into English so that my kids and Engish-speaking friends could also read it. She has done a marvelous job translating!! I so appreciate it. Thank you, D!!

先日書いた「最後の30時間」を、私の日本語が堪能なアメリカ人の友人(名前を出さないでとのことなので、伏せています)が、私の家族と英語を話す友人のために、英訳してくださいました。心から感謝します!

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  I want to blog about Miho’s last thirty hours on this earth. It is a very raw account, but it is a testimony to how she lived and battled through her final hours, so I intentionally made it very detailed. (If you are not comfortable with blood-filled accounts, you might want to skip reading this blog post.) I am writing this not so much for all of you to read it, but for myself, so I can begin to enter the grieving process. It’s a little long, but please bear with me.

  The morning of Friday, March 4th was a relatively tranquil morning. I had slept on the sofa in the living room the night before to be with Miho. She had been coughing and seemed in pain a few times during the night, so I gave her medicine through her J-tube. It was a bit unusual that she hadn’t asked to use the commode during the night that night. Up until then she had woken up several times during the night and used the bedside commode.

  On a normal morning, I start making Ken’s bento box soon after 6:00. If I don’t say anything when I go to the kitchen, Miho calls to me, “Mama? Mama? Where are you? What are you doing?” So I’m careful to tell her before I leave, “I’m going to go make Ken’s lunch. I’ll be in the kitchen, so call me if you need me, OK?” That satisfies her and she says her typical “Oh-Kay.” After I make Ken’s lunch and feed him breakfast, I drive him to school. I tell Miho, “I’m going to take Ken to school. I’ll be right back.” She always responds with a somewhat sleepy “Oh-Kay.”

  After I take Ken and come back home, it’s time for Miho’s medicine. But on this morning I was able to take my time and stay with Miho, because even though it was a Friday, Ken didn’t have school.

  The weather was good that morning, and as I prepared her medicines, I was thinking that it was a nice, cool morning. Miho’s condition changed by the day, so lately there had been fewer medicines, but even then I still had to give her five different kinds. I sat at the table by her bedside, got the meds, some water, and a small cup ready, put some water in a syringe, and first flushed out her tube. Then crushed some pills, dissolved them, and put them in the tube, then flushed it out again. Then on to the next medicine. Then flush again…

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  I had been doing this for three weeks now, so I had gotten pretty good at it. I must have looked very dependable to Miho, administering her medicines with hands so accustomed to the routine, because Miho looked at me and said, “When I am working with you like this, I feel smarter.” I smiled at her and said, “You do? When I’m working together with you like this, I feel smarter, too.”

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  After the medicines were finished and things had calmed down a bit, it was maybe about 9:30 when the phone rang. It was a person from the home health care company that works with the Illinois DHS. Apparently DHS contacted them so that they can make arrangement to send a nurse or an aid to our home. She wanted to discuss with me how many days a week and for how many hours we wanted help. As I was talking with her, Miho vomited blood behind me. I said, “I’m sorry, she just threw up blood, so please call back again later,” and I hurriedly hung up. Miho had sat up in bed and was writhing around, trying to get out of bed. I went to hold her and put the bowl designated for throw-ups that we had there in front of her mouth. Miho then violently spewed out a massive amount of blood. The blood that the bowl wouldn’t hold splashed all around, and Miho’s face, front, and hands were all covered in blood. I wanted a towel and some hot water, but I didn’t want to move my hand away from Miho’s back. So I called Ken, who was sleeping upstairs, on his cell phone and told him to please come help me.

  He came down, dazed from having been woken up, and the stench hit his nose. “What do you want me to do?” he asked, covering his nose and mouth with the T-shirt he was wearing. “Bring me some hot water in a basin and a towel.” Miho threw up again.

  He brought them to me right away, but he had a totally turned-off look on his face. I wanted his help, but I recouped, realizing that this might traumatize him. So I just told him, “Thank you. You can go back to your room now.”

  I cleaned Miho’s face and hands, changed her T-shirt, and assisted her to move from the bed into an armchair. I needed to be careful as I moved her, because she had an oxygen tube, an IV tube for her pain med, and the J-tube for her nutrition attached to her. I spread a large bath towel over the armchair, and after I sat Miho down, I changed the sheets. I then called the hospice care company, told them the situation, and asked if they could send over an RN as soon as possible.

  The nurse came in about 20 minutes. When she arrived, Miho’s condition had settled down somewhat, but her expression hardened as soon as she saw how drained Miho looked. Since Miho came home from her last short-term hospital stay, the CNA and LPN who had been coming previously hadn’t come any more, and only my husband and I had been taking care of Miho. The nurse, though, said that we should go back to continuous care at least for this weekend. During continuous care, a CNA and LPN switch off with each other so someone is here around the clock. Because it was so difficult for just my husband and me to be taking care of Miho, I had contacted the DHS to see if we could get some extra help sent out, but if the hospice care company nurses were going to come, they know exactly what they are doing, so that would be even better.

  As I was consulting with the nurse about these things, the doorbell rang. It was the woman from the home health care company that I had been talking to on the phone earlier. She had said that she could sense that there was something not quite right going on, so she came to help us. The three of us were talking about how to best take care of Miho. While the hospice nurse was on the phone, calling around to various places, the woman from the support center (her name was Curline) said, “Don’t worry about getting other people to come over to take care of Miho. I’ll take care of her.” I asked her, “Are you an RN?” She said, “Yes, I’m an RN, and I’m a Christian.” She could probably tell from all of the scriptures that were hanging around the room that we were Christians, too. She went on, “After you hung up during our phone call, I sensed that God was telling me to come here right away, so I came as soon as I could. Now I know why. God is with you all. I am your sister in Christ. I don’t want to help you as a part of a business, but as a sister in Christ.” She then took my hands and prayed with tears running down her cheeks.  Since the hospice care company nurses were scheduled to come for the weekend, Curline said that she would come starting the next week. When she found out that the LPN coming from the hospice care company wouldn’t get here until evening, she said, “I will go and get someone who can help you in the meantime, during the day today. She is someone you can really trust, so don’t worry.” She then left and came back in about half an hour, just as she had promised, with another woman. “Betsy is an experienced nurse, and she is also a strong Christian.”

  Even though I had met both Curline and Betsy for the first time, they showed me an astounding amount of love and care. They must have been sent from God. Miho was feeling better and was able to talk with Betsy. After about 2:00 p.m., the RN who had come said, “OK, I’ll be leaving now.” As soon as she had left the house, Miho again violently vomited blood. Betsy held Miho, and I held the bowl and towel, then I ran outside to ask the RN, who should still be there, if she could come back to help. She came back right away and helped us. There was blood inside the tape that held the IV needle into the port in Miho’s chest, so we cleaned off Miho once again, including the port. Right as we were cleaning her up, she again vomited blood. The T-shirt and sheets that we had just got done changing were soiled again. If I had been by myself, I would be totally at a loss, but I felt so reassured because I had two professionals with me. I then called my husband, who was at work, and told him to come home as soon as he could. I also called Maya, who was supposed to arrive home on Sunday afternoon for spring break, and asked if she could change her flight to one that would get here that night or Saturday morning. She acted right away and re-booked on the first flight to arrive on Saturday morning. Emi was scheduled to arrive in Chicago that night.

  As all of this was going on, Miho had settled down again. When I drained the catheter in her right lung, I drew out 600 ml of liquid that day, too. Miho, in somewhat of a stupor, all of a sudden opened her eyes, looked around with wonderment, and said, “Is this a new church we’re going to now?” I asked her, “Do you hear people singing?” She said, “Uh-huh.” Betsy and I looked at each other and said, “She’s in the presence of the Lord right now!” The place was filled with an indescribable peace.

  It was already evening and time for the night-time LPN to come, so Betsy left. Before she left, she took my hands once more and prayed. Miho was listening, too, and said “Amen” at the end.

  Miho then fell asleep, but somewhere along the line, she had removed the oxygen tube that went into her nose, which was very uncomfortable. If the oxygen tube isn’t in place, the amount of oxygen in her blood drops to dangerously low levels very quickly. Unlike at the hospital, though, in hospice care there are no machines to monitor her vital signs, so I had purchased a simple piece of apparatus to measure her pulse and blood oxygen levels, and would measure her levels frequently. A safe range for her count would be above 90, but it was now down in the 60s, and even though I had put the oxygen tube back in her nose, her levels weren’t going up. I thought that was strange, so I looked and figured out that the oxygen compressor wasn’t working properly! I hurriedly called the company from which we had rented the machines and asked them to come quickly to fix it, but they said, “We have other things to do first, so we can’t go right now.” Don’t they realize that for us it’s a matter of life and death?!? I temporarily hooked the tube up to an emergency oxygen tank and got over that peril, but if I continued to use it that tank would be empty in a few hours. I then called the hospice care company and told them what was going on, and they sent over an on-call RN. He arrived in about 5 minutes.

  Miho had been in somewhat of a stupor until then, but as soon as she saw the RN, she opened up her eyes wide, and greeted him in a pretty normal manner. This nurse was good at making conversation about things that didn’t really matter much but were still interesting, and on that day, too, he made some interesting conversation. Miho was listening and responding in the appropriate places. The RN took Miho’s vitals and fixed the oxygen tank so it would work in the meantime. He said he would replace the faulty part with a properly-working one, so he left for then.

  Emi also arrived home around that time. On that evening, too, people we didn’t know brought dinner for us. (For two weeks now, our friends or even friends of friends who didn’t know us personally brought dinner to us on a rotating schedule.) One thing that made me glad about Emi coming home was that Ken uncharacteristically was also spending time in the living room, where Miho was. Ken told Miho about how the competition for band auditions for next year was really stiff. Even though she couldn’t articulate well, she said quite clearly enough, “Hang in there. I know you can do it, Ken. I’m believing in you.” (These were Miho’s last words that she spoke directly to Ken.)

  Even up to the very end, Miho was worried about school. That night she said to me, “I don’t think I can go to school tomorrow. I’m too sick.” Of course, she said that because she was half delirious about what was really going on, so I said to her, “It’s OK. The school called a little bit ago and said school was canceled for tomorrow, so you don’t need to worry. It’ll all be OK.” She said, “I want to hear the voice mail.” (Oh! What to do?!) I was a little flustered, so I said, “I answered the phone and talked to them in person, so there is no voice mail.” Then she asked, “Which school?” I responded by reflex, “HF (the name of their high school),” to which Miho said, “I’m not in high school anymore!” (Uh-oh!) Why can she think straight during times like this when most of the time she’s out of it?! I laughed it off and said, “Oh, really?!” But as soon as she’d answered straight, she went right to sleep again.

  Miho’s breathing was really shallow and rapid, and she would fall into a sleep and then suddenly wake up and say something, or suddenly cry out in pain. Emi said, “I’ll sleep here tonight,” and spread out a blanket on the sofa. I was awake until about 11, but I posted the following to Facebook, and then left the rest to my husband for the night, and decided to go to bed. He was at the very end of the semester and still had his final classes and final exams to prepare for, so he opened up his laptop in the living room and worked next to Miho. It seemed at that time like things had stabilized for Miho quite a bit.


Sachi Nakamura with Miho Nakamoe.
March 4 at 10:44pm · Homewood · 

Thank you so much for your prayers. I think your prayers carried her through today's crisis. Carried ME through, for sure.

Miho started to vomit bloody fluid this morning. She repeatedly vomited. She was turning pale and I thought I was losing her. Since I was alone, I had to ask Ken (he didn't have school today) to help me, but he was grossed out because of the bloody vomit and stench. I didn't want to traumatize him so I let him go back to his room. Then a nurse (RN) and an aid arrived. 

When throwing up finally subsided and we cleaned up Miho and helped her rest (it was already about 3 or 4 pm), she opened her eyes, and said, rather peacefully, "Is this a new church we are going now?" Surprised, I said, "Do you hear people singing?" She said,'Uh-huh" with eyes closed again. The aid, who is a Christian, and I looked at each other and said, "She is in the presence of the Lord!" This gave me tremendous peace and comfort.

She is now sleeping, though her breathing is labored and shallow. In her sleep she occasionally screams. Nurse said she might be hallucinating. Father God, give her a peaceful sleep.

Perhaps I can share more about what happened today later, let me say this for now: Even though I somewhat panicked at first, I felt the presence of the Lord every single moment, and I wasn't afraid. I hated to see Miho suffer in pain and discomfort, yet still I knew she was in the good hand of our Heavenly Father.

Please continue to pray that she would be relieved from pain and discomfort and that the Lord would keep her in His peace and let His life flow in and through her.

And, I am still praying for a miracle. Please join me!

May the Son of God be glorified through this! 

  But, even though I went to bed, I couldn’t get to sleep right away. I could hear Miho’s wheezy breathing and her moaning from downstairs. That was the case every night, so I had gotten used to going to sleep while listening to her breathing, but even then, I couldn’t stop thinking about her downstairs. Somehow, though, I must have managed to fall asleep. 

  It didn’t last long, however. Maybe it was about 1:00 in the morning – I woke up to Miho screaming, and I jumped out of bed. “Help me! Help me!” It was the way she cries when she’s having hallucinations. When I got to the living room, the LPN who had come for the night and Michael (Miho’s boyfriend) were holding Miho as she vomited blood. My husband was holding a towel that was soiled with blood. I pooled some hot water in the sink and wiped Miho’s face with a clean towel. She was writhing around, trying to escape from her bed. “Help me! Please stop! Please stop!” She was screaming with all the strength that she had. The LPN and I were trying to hold her down, but she pushed us away with an extraordinary amount of strength, and she pulled on my hair. I held her shoulders and said, “It’s OK.  Dad and Mama and Michael are all here. Nobody scary is here. It’s OK. You can relax.” She let go of her grip and, between shallow breaths, said, “Oh-kay…,” and let her body rest in my arms. The three of us got her back up into the bed that she had been trying to get out of, and we changed the sheets as she was lying on the bed. In order to change the sheets we had to roll her over to one side while she was lying on the bed, and that must have been painful for her, because she cried out again. After we finished changing the sheets and changing her T-shirt, Michael gently took Miho’s head in both of his hands, put his forehead against her forehead, and whispered, “It’s alright, it’s alright.” He wet a swab and cleaned out the inside of her mouth, and wiped her lips and teeth that had grown black from all of the blood that was stuck on them. “I’m going to clean you off with a swab now. You’ll feel something in your mouth, but don’t be startled. It’s OK. I’m just going to clean you off, my dear.” The visual picture had a lot of impact -- her hair was tousled, and her mouth was covered in reddish-black blood. On top of that, she was lifting her shoulders to breathe, and there must have been some blood still in her throat, because every time she took a breath, she made a gargling noise. Her eyes wouldn’t focus on anything, and she was just staring off into space. Even though this was her reality, Michael was looking at her with such deep love and stroking her head with such tenderness. It brought tears to my eyes. In contrast, my husband had all of a sudden transformed himself into the laundry man, and he was going around collecting soiled sheets and things, taking them to the basement, and putting them in the washing machine. I guess it just shows that everybody has their own way of expressing love…

  When Miho finally fell off to sleep, Michael said, “Well, I guess I’ll go home now.” It was when he was about to go home when Miho had thrown up. He had stayed longer to take care of her. I said, “Thank you. Please drive carefully.” It must have been about 2:30 in the morning. Miho did fall back to sleep, and I thought things would be alright for the rest of the night, so I went back upstairs. However, even though Miho was asleep, I could still hear her raspy breathing. I couldn’t get to sleep anymore.

  Just as I was thinking I did want to be down next to Miho, I heard her scream again. I jumped out of bed and ran into the living room. Miho sat upright as she screamed, and was holding her hands to her mouth. I quickly grabbed the bowl that was sitting next to her bedside to catch the vomit, and I put it up to her mouth. The nurse was on the opposite side of the bed and was holding a towel to Miho. But the amount that she threw up was huge, and it came out with such force, that it splashed all over. It was a repeat of what had happened two hours ago. “Help me, please stop!” She screamed as she tried to escape from the bed, and I hugged her to keep her down. “It’s OK, Mama and Dad are both here. Jesus is holding your hand. No one is trying to harm you. Everything is going to be alright.” She then calmed down.

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(These are pictures that my husband took that I didn’t even know he had taken. They are time-stamped as 3:43 and 3:44 a.m.)

  However, Miho still tried to get out of bed. “What’s the matter? Do you want to use the commode?” Miho grabbed the armrests on the commode and tried to stand up. Up until then, even though she was weak, if she had support she could still stand on her own. But this time, when she tried to stand up, her legs gave way, and she collapsed next to the bed. The nurse and my husband and I tried to lift her up, but she was heavy!! It seemed that her arms would come out of the sockets if we pulled them, so somehow or other, I put my arms under her body, and at the count of three, we all lifted her up into the bed. The expression on her face when she fell down is seared into the back of my mind – even though her eyes were wide open, they were just drifting around in space. It was the moment that I became aware that her death was drawing near. I was overwhelmed with despair. I cried out in my heart,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken Miho and me?


  There are many people who survive even though they have cancer. Even if they aren’t cured, there are many people who live long lives even as they struggle with cancer. There are people who, even when they die, they go peacefully, just like they were sleeping. Why does Miho, at so young an age, only 21, have to face death and push forward, and with so much suffering, less than a year after she is diagnosed with cancer? Even though there are so, so many people, all around the world, praying for us, believing in healing, on their faces in prayer to You – why does it have to end like this? Do our prayers not mean anything before You? My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?

  At that instant, though, I felt that my suffering was enveloped in the suffering of Jesus on the cross, and that, in this suffering of feeling as though the Father God had forsaken us, I was made one with my beloved Jesus. The eyes of the Father that were looking down on us, were the same eyes that looked down on Jesus as they were filled with both love and anguish, and I could feel that the tears that the Father must have shed for Jesus were also being shed for us, too.

  As these impressions came over me, I was able to compose myself, and, still praying for a great reversal, I was able to turn all of my body and spirit to helping Miho while she was still fighting for her life. Just as we’d done a couple of hours ago, we laid Miho on the bed and changed the sheets and her T-shirt, her pillow and pillow cover, and put her into a position where she might be even just a little bit more comfortable. Ever since the time she was a child, Miho loved her dad’s shirts. It was difficult to get the shirts over her head, so we would put them on her with a trick that the nurses taught us, by cutting through them vertically in the back, opening them, and putting them on her front.

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(While Miho was still in the hospital. Sleeping wrapped up in her dad’s T-shirt.)

  Around this time, Emi, who had been sleeping on the sofa, woke up, and my husband, Emi, and I sat around Miho’s bed and held her hands, speaking words of encouragement to her, and just watching her. Maya’s flight was supposed to get in from Boston at 8:05 that morning. The original plan was that my husband would go to get her, but with things the way they were, I was concerned about him going out. More than that – I felt like we weren’t supposed to leave Miho’s side. So, even though it was 4:00 in the morning, I posted on Facebook, “Is there anyone who can go to Midway this morning to pick up Maya? Her flight arrives at 8:05.” People in Japan obviously would see this post right away because of the time difference, but it wouldn’t do any good if people in the Chicago area didn’t see it. But it was still 4:00 in the morning… I figured somebody would see it at about 6:00 a.m., maybe, but! I was really surprised when 40 minutes later Lisa, a good friend from the church we used to go to, left a comment that she and her husband Gary could go pick Maya up. Hallelujah! If it were Lisa and Gary, I could feel really good about being able to leave this up to them. Lisa told me later that she never wakes up that early, and especially she never looks at Facebook that early in the morning, but she said she felt like it was God that made her do it that morning.

  Miho’s breathing was shallow and a struggle, as always, but I told her, “Maya’s coming home soon!” My husband went to wake up Ken and brought him into the living room. I told him, “Ken, tell your sister that you love her.” He mumbled in a really small voice, in Japanese, “I love you.” Now is not the time to be shy! “She can’t hear you if you talk like that! Why don’t you hold her hand?” So he put out his index finger and just touched her hand a little bit. Well, OK, whatever. But I figured that I couldn’t pressure him to do any more than that, so I stopped saying anything else.

  It was still morning in Chicago (maybe about 5:00) but I realized that in Japan it was early evening, so I thought that we could call the grandparents in Japan. I called both my mom and my dad. Miho couldn’t answer with words, but she could hear their voices, and I’m certain that she understood them when they said, “I love you!” When she heard her grandma and grandpa’s voices, the tones coming out of her throat changed, and you could tell that she was trying to communicate. I think my mom and dad could sense that, too.

  After that, Miho’s facial color changed to a stark white with a little bit of blue in it, and it was hard to tell if she had any consciousness at all. She certainly was in no condition to talk. However, at one point she all of a sudden sat straight up in bed and, quite clearly, faced us and said, “I love you!” Then, as if she were using all the remaining energy that she had, with her pale bluish face, she showed us a smile. We could see that she was trying her hardest to smile at us. My husband and Emi and I were all crying and shouting, “Miho, Miho! We love you, too! We love you!” Ken was sitting a little ways away sobbing. I thought that I needed to contact Michael, so I called him. It was still not even 6:00 a.m., but I felt like I had to let him know. He answered his phone right away, and said that he would be over soon.

  We were giving her encouragement with all that we had, and as we did so, she looked around and said, again quite clearly, “Where is Michael?”

  I told her, “I called him. He’s on his way here. He’ll be here soon.” When she heard that, she closed her eyes, satisfied, and once again began to doze off with her wheezy breathing. I kept talking to her, saying, “Miho, don’t go yet. Wait until Michael and Maya get here! Don’t go to sleep yet! They’ll be here soon. They’re coming back soon!”

  Her face was frighteningly pale, and her hands had become cold. My husband cried, “It might help if we warm her up! Don’t give up yet!” That made me think, too – No, we can’t give up yet! I put a small towel in some warm water and began putting it to her face. She seemed to like that (I think). My husband and Emi were rubbing her hands.

  Michael arrived at our house less than an hour after I had called him. Even though I told him, “Talk to Miho. Say something to her.” All he could do was sob and say, “Miho, it’s me.” We kept on encouraging her, saying, “Maya’s not here yet, so don’t go yet! She’ll be here really soon! Miho, hang in there!” Even though she couldn’t react, we knew that she could hear our voices, so we took turns talking about the fun things that had happened in the past. “Miho, do you remember when we did that? What about this? It was a lot of fun, wasn’t it? Miho, you were so cute. You were so smart. You were such a good girl. You always tried so hard. You are so strong, and so kind, and so compassionate, and you have made Mama and Dad and everybody in the family so proud! We love you so much!” “Miho, this isn’t the end of you, you know. You’re going to go to be with Jesus once, and He will take away all your pain, and He’ll guard you gently in His arms. Then, when Jesus comes back to this earth and establishes the Kingdom of God here, you will also get a new, glorious body, and you’ll come back to this earth with Him! Before that happens, probably Mama and Dad and all of us will be in the same place that you are going to, too, so let’s all be resurrected together! Let’s all receive our new bodies and we’ll all be resurrected together!” I think I said this because I wanted not just Miho, but also Michael and Emi and Ken to hear this, too. I think Miho already knew what I was talking about.

  At 8:12 Lisa texted me and said, “We got her. We are coming. 30 min. Miho. Just 30 min!” Maya got home at 8:45.

  When Maya entered the room, Miho couldn’t vocalize anything, but she reacted by opening her eyes. I think she knew that Maya had come back. Maya held Miho’s hand and cried as she tried to talk to Miho. The whole family, Michael, and Wilson the dog were surrounding Miho’s bed and watching over her.

  A little bit after Maya got home, Miho’s breathing, which had been quite labored up until then, calmed down a bit, and it seemed as though she was sleeping like she normally would. Miho’s cold hands, which we had been holding the whole time, had become quite warm. It seemed like it was even possible that she would sleep like this for a while and wake up in a few hours as though nothing had happened.

  About this time everybody’s exhaustion came to a peak. My husband had stayed up all night, Michael had gone home once during the middle of the night but wasn’t able to sleep, and Maya had stayed up all night with a friend so she wouldn’t go to sleep and miss her flight that was leaving Boston at 4:00 a.m. Maya had lain down at the foot of Miho’s bed and fallen fast asleep, and my husband had crashed sitting on the sofa. Ken was also asleep in a corner of the room. Michael was on a chair, staring into space, so I told him, “It seems like things have calmed down for a bit now, so why don’t you sleep here for a while? You can go upstairs and sleep on Miho’s bed.” He went upstairs without any objections.

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(When everybody had stopped surrounding the bed, Wilson was so happy that he could roll himself up on Miho’s bed. This was the last time Willy slept with Miho. About 10:00 a.m.)

  I was able to catch my breath now, too. I felt that we had turned a corner and was even expecting that maybe she would even come around again after this. When I went upstairs to see how Michael was doing, he was on Miho’s bed, hugging her pillow and sobbing. 

  After this, though, maybe at about 11:00, Miho threw up blood again. It wasn’t as bad as in the middle of the night, but she was obviously suffering. The whole family was here now, and I felt that it wouldn’t be good to keep Miho hanging on any longer than this. If God wasn’t going to perform a dramatic healing right then and there, then no matter how many hours longer she would continue to live, I would only feel bad for her if all that she did was cycle through vomiting blood and delirium. If that were the case, then I could only pray that He would take her peacefully to His side.

  I climbed up on Miho’s bed, careful not to pull on her IV tubes. I sat next to her, put my right arm around her shoulder, and held her. And I rested her left hand on my knee. As she tried feebly to lean her head on me, she continued her raspy breathing. About this time, everybody who had been asleep started to wake up and gather around the bed again. Only Ken was just a little bit away from us.

  Miho had her eyes closed and was breathing with difficulty by lowering her jaw. It was difficult to tell whether she was awake or asleep. We kept talking to her in quiet voices. Sometimes all of the talking stopped and we just gently watched her. Then, maybe about 10 minutes before she drew her final breath, she spoke to us. At first it was a small, weak voice, saying, “I uh oo.” Then she said it again in a bigger voice, and then, as though she were wringing all of the strength out of her tired-out body, she virtually shouted, “I uh oo, I UH OO!

  We looked at each other, “I love you? Miho, did you just say ‘I love you’? We love you, too, Miho! We love you, too! We love you! Miho, thank you for saying ‘I love you!’ Even though you must be in pain, thank you for saying it! We also all say, ‘I love you!’ to you!”

  And that is how we watched over Miho. Sometimes talking to her, sometimes just watching. As she lay in my arms, her breathing gradually became slower. Then at the end, she took three slow, long breaths (or maybe it was three short breaths at long intervals). Then her shoulders, which had been moving until then, stopped moving, and her neck dropped forward. I drew her shoulders together in my arms, looking into her face as I called her, “Miho? Miho?” There was no reaction. Up until then, even though she had been in my arms, I thought it would hurt her if I hugged her too tight, so I was only hugging her gently. But now I hugged her to me hard. The CNA, who was in the next room, brought in a stethoscope and put it to her chest, and said, “Her heart is stopped.”

  I asked no one in particular, “What time is it now?” Michael answered, “12:52.” I was surprised that it was still the middle of the day. It felt like it was already evening.

  March 5, 12:52 p.m. Miho was called to be with the Lord.


  I gently put her face, which had been in my arms, on her pillow. Maya and Ken were crying like babies. Emi’s eyes were red, and Michael was sobbing. We each told Miho, “Thank you, I love you.” My husband and I told her, “We are so proud of you. Well done, our beloved daughter. We love you.”

  Even now, death is still our worst enemy. Satan oppresses us with death. However, we can know that because Jesus has been resurrected from the dead as the first of many to come, there will come a day when we will also put on a resurrection body, one that cannot be destroyed. At that time, death will be swallowed up in victory (see I Corinthians 15:54).

  Miho truly fought well until the very end. Hers was a resplendent struggle. It was filled with words of gratitude and words of love through and through. Of course there were times when she threw tantrums because of the pain and sadness that she was feeling. Even then, though, Miho’s heart was always full of thanks and love and compassion. The many people who came to her wake and funeral also testified to this. The fact that her last words on this earth were “I love you” is so like her. Even in the midst of her suffering, she is still able to profess love – she was like that even from the time she was very little. (Like the time she was in preschool, having an asthma attack, coughing so hard she threw up and yet telling me “Mama, I love you” in the midst of it all.) I am guessing that the enemy of our souls wanted to make Miho curse God, curse her parents, and curse this world. Perhaps he made her continually suffer so she would spout out words of cursing instead of words of life. However, she did not bend. She accepted suffering for what it was, and accepted the weakness of her body for what it was, but she did not yield. Instead, she wrapped up her life in this world by shouting, “I love you!” The enemy must have been so upset with her. Just as Jesus spoke words of forgiveness on the cross, Miho spoke words of love from the depths of her sickbed. Even though her body died, Miho won this fight. I am sure that Jesus is saying to Miho, “Well done, my beloved daughter!”

  Miho, thank you for teaching us so many things as you went through this battle. I am so proud of you. I loves you, too. And – we’ll be resurrected together, OK?

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(Posted on March 27, 2016. Resurrection Sunday)