It was the subtlest of changes, a transition so slight as to be almost imperceptible. If not for the fact that we’ve been together for over a year, I might not have even noticed. At first, I wasn’t sure but, as I began to suspect, and pay closer attention, it became obvious that something was up. Akemi seemed a little distant, a little pensive – lately, a little less quick to laugh and more inclined to take time to herself. Of course, when I asked her about it, she was quick to deny there was a problem. I pressed and, in typical Japanese fashion, she begged off, hesitated, claimed it wasn’t important, said she didn’t want to bother me and then, ultimately, admitted there WAS something bothering her.
Her visa expires in three months.
Here I’ve been, so focused on work and enduring Toronto, looking ahead to finishing up the year and returning to Vancouver, that I failed to consider a very big part of my life for the past fifteen months will not be going back with me. The next three months may not be ideal for me but for Akemi, they’re all she has left in Canada. It’s heartbreaking to sense the struggle beneath that gentle, optimistic facade, doubly so because I know how much she loved Vancouver and how much happier these last three months would have been back home in more familiar surroundings. It makes me sad to know we won’t get the opportunity to do so many of the things we loved while we were together on the west coast, little things like grabbing an ice cream at Bella Gelateria, watching a movie in the theater room, or even sitting in the backyard with the dogs.
The dogs. They’ll all miss her, but Bubba especially. Whenever Akemi is on the couch, he has to be up there with her. Whenever Akemi goes upstairs, he has to bound up after her. Whenever Akemi puts her shoes on to head out, he has to sit at her feet, gazing imploringly up at her, seemingly trying to convince her to take him along through sheer mental will. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Bubba was the first one to pick up on the change in Akemi, over the past few days snuggling alongside her a little closer, staying by her side a little longer.
For now, I’m going to try to concentrate on the present and not worry about the future. Easier for me given the many distractions I have to contend with on a daily basis but not quite so simple for Akemi who has all day to think about it her impending departure. And despite the fact that I finally got her to open up about what was bothering her, again in typical Japanese fashion, she remains reluctant to discuss, adopting a sunny smile and waving away my efforts. The prospect of my worrying about her is apparently more distressing to her than her own personal distress. And yet still, there are rare instances where the brave front falters and I catch a glimpse of the true emotions. “I’ll be okay,”she assured me last night, bright-eyed and spirited. And then, a simple request: “Please don’t forget about me.”
Speaking of forgetting – don’t forget to cast your vote in the Name Trevor’s Baby contest (see past entries for details). AND don’t forget to post your questions and comments on Sweet Tooth!
Today’s Bento Breakfast –