In a strange turn of events, I'm writing this post from Denman Island, BC. On what was my Thursday afternoon, I received an email from my mother saying that my grandmother Estelle was being released from the hospital the next day, so that she could die at home sometime in the next few days, and that if I wanted to say goodbye, I should come as soon as possible.
The next morning, I rode through the pouring rain to the the immigration office near my house to apply for a reentry permit. After 45 minutes of navigating the bureaucracy of this office, I had the permit. I returned home and began calling travel agents and airlines. Eventually, a travel agent in Umeda found me a convoluted trip leaving that day. Since he did not take American Express, he asked me to bring cash to his office.
I went to the nearest conbini, withdrew 200,000 in cash and took the subway to Umeda. After I paid for the flight, my travel agent walked me to the bus I would have to take to the airport. The bus left a few minutes after I boarded. I went first to Itami Domestic Airport in the north of Osaka and from here to Haneda Domestic Airport in Tokyo. From Haneda, I took a one-hour bus to Narita International Airport in the outskirts of Tokyo. From Narita I flew to Vancouver and then to Comox on Vancouver Island.
I had left some messages and sent some emails about my arrival time, but I had not actually talked to anyone, so I was happy to be picked up at the airport by Don and my mom. We got some groceries and took the next ferry out to Denman.
When I got Estelle's house, the first thing she did was make some wry comments about how I shouldn't have come so far. I held her hand and we talked for about 15 minutes. When I left to go get Jackie from the ferry, Estelle said goodbye. I told her I would be back later. She squeezed my hand and said it again.