Late last year we visited my sister in Japan and while there, we spent some time in Hiroshima. What a hauntingly beautiful place. As we wondered through the Peace Park I found myself swept away by the park's beauty, even momentarily forgetting the horror that is the sole reason it exists.
Beauty from ashes.
I chose to have an audio guide as I walked through the museum. (It's a small device with pre recorded explanations on it.) I knew from what friends had told me that you'd hear more stories by having one than you would just by reading the signs that accompanied each photo or object. They were right. Even today, two months later, my thoughts are captured by one short sentence said by the guide:
I am the one with the bad luck to survive.
Words spoken by a mother whose child had died. I couldn't help but relate. In saying that, I am not comparing Ariella's stillbirth to the atrocity that was committed against the people of Hiroshima. Not at all. But the words of a grieving mama transcend situations and time. My heart broke as I heard those words, knowing the emotional pain she must have experienced to say that she was the unlucky one, even though she survived. Some days it really does feel like that.
Another story I cannot forget is the story of this tricycle. A grieving father could not bear the thought of burying his toddler alone. So he buried his boy's trike with him. When the boy's remains were relocated years later to be with family, the tricycle was donated to the memorial museum. As I reflected on the tricycle and the father's grief, memories of trying to chose what to bury Ariella in and with came flooding back. It was hard, unexplainably hard. At least we had time and space to decide. This poor father did not.
Wandering the streets of Hiroshima, it was hard to imagine the devastation that flattened the city 50 years before. It was hard to believe and acknowledge that it was my country's ally that had inflicted such suffering. Never again. But it was also inspiring to see how Hiroshima had created beauty from ashes. The Peace Park was honestly one of the most beautiful places I have seen. My hope is that I can create just as much beauty (or more accurately, allow God to create it) in the ashes of life after Ariella.