At The New York Times, Jennifer Percy tells the story of Yasuo Takamatsu, who five years after the tsunami in Japan, still searches the sea for the body of his missing wife, Yuko. He is not alone. He is also joined by Masaaki Narita, who lost his daughter, Emi, to the tsunami and diligently searches the water for her body.
By this January, Takamatsu had been on 110 dives, each lasting 40 to 50 minutes. He was not just looking for the body; he was also searching for a wallet, clothes or jewelry — anything that might identify his wife after five years in the ocean.
“I expected it to be difficult,” Takamatsu said, “and I’ve found it quite difficult, but it is the only thing I can do. I have no choice but to keep looking for her. I feel closest to her in the ocean.”
I thought of the song that a French composer named Sylvain Guinet composed for Takamatsu after he learned of his loss. The title is “Yuko Takamatsu.” Takamatsu listened to the song, a piano solo, when he shopped online, ironed his clothes, drove his car and as he fell asleep. I asked him if the song brought back memories of Yuko. “It does not bring back memories,” he said. “Because it is not something that I forget.”
We often think of searching as a kind of movement, a forward motion through time, but maybe it can also be the opposite, a suspension of time and memory. Heidegger wrote of a metaphoric pain, calling it the “joining of the rift.” It’s this rift, he said, that holds together things that have been torn apart, to perhaps create a new space where joy and sadness can find communion. This is the space I believed Takamatsu found beneath the sea, where he could feel close to his wife, in the rift between “missing” and “deceased.”Read the full essay at The New York Times
Listen to Sylvain Guinet's "Yuko Takamatsu"