Today marks the third “anniversary” of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan. I had the amazing opportunity to visit Japan last August as part of a group from the Tribute Center. Another group from Tribute had visited Japan in October 2012. My friend Jeanette, who was part of that first group, shared the following email and the very moving response. I asked her permission to share it on my blog.

“just wanted to you know that I am thinking of you and all my friends in Japan today. Good thoughts and prayers are sent your way for continued recovery and healing. I am sorry that this awful thing happened on 3/11 but I am very, very grateful for the beautiful friendships that have blossomed from such a terrible disaster.

You have my deepest sympathy for those lost and much love and respect for those who have survived and have helped in the recovery.

Kindest regards, Jeanette”

The reply she received:

“The past three years have proved that time alone can not erase and lessen the pains and sadness of people who had experienced such an incredible disaster over such a vast area of space and a huge number of people affected.

On the contrary, as time goes on, it can even prolong and exacerbate the sorrow and sadness of people who are still unsure of where and when one can finally have a home of her or his own, in spite of passing already of three years., because for many who are still in a tiny temporary accommodation, having a new final home is still many years away if any. The time of the third anniversary is therefore, a hard reminder that in spite of many things apparently done so far, the drama of war-footing is still on-going, and a happy end is not yet in sight for most of people. This is a reality that hundreds of thousands of the tsunami survivors must be feeling right now all over the affected regions. Not in spite of, therefore, but because of such an obvious anniversary day, many people are feeling even sadder and more worried today lest their problems and worries being forgotten slowly and quietly.

In such a season, your kind and considerate thoughts and prayers are more appreciated and heartfelt than before, and these feelings of appreciations and gratefulness on our part is even stronger when we think that those messages and encouragements come from those who have the 9/11 legacies themselves.”

203This little boy came out to greet us when we arrived at the temporary housing site in August 2013. He was carrying the Tribute Center coin he had received from the group in October of 2012. He was displaced from his home because of the nuclear radiation spill. He is the face of Fukushima to me. He is who I think of when I say a prayer.