Blue hydrangeas

The year when I turned three, my younger brother came into the world and I became an elder sister. It was late June, during the rainy season in Japan. Hydrangeas were blossoming everywhere.

One rainy morning, I stood in front of our house with my grandmothers and my friends’ mothers, seeing my mother and father getting in a taxi to go to the hospital. I remember being very excited. Even though I had little idea about what was about to happen, I knew in my heart that it was going to be something big, something life-changing for me.

Shortly after the successful delivery, we learned that my brother was born with a heart disease where the large artery and the large vein were connected to wrong heart chambers. He was immediately carried to a larger hospital in the town to receive the emergency operation. The operation was necessary to save this little life.

All of this, I heard from the adults around me who stayed at home to look after me. In my child’s mind, I understood that my brother was born but was not doing well, and that a doctor was treating him to get better so that he could come home soon. But it turned out to be a very long wait.

My mother came home without my brother. She explained to me that he had to stay in the ICU for some time before he could come home. But we were going to visit him every evening at the hospital.

Each evening, after supper and bath, my mother and I would hurry to the hospital. My mother was usually very tense because there was only a narrow time slot when visitors were allowed in the ICU, and of course she could not miss it.

On the way from the parking lot to the entrance of the hospital, there was a bush of blue hydrangeas. Even in the darkness, the full blossoms shined brightly under the street lights.

Once in the hospital, I was taken to the waiting room since small children were not allowed in the ICU, and my mother hurried to meet my brother. Days went like that.

Years later, when my family talk about those days, there is one thing that all three of us – my mother, father, and myself – always mention. There was a bush of blue hydrangeas in the parking lot. That’s how we remember that time. Like the blossoms shining in the darkness, the arrival of my brother was the light in our house.