Ten years ago, I went on a two week trip through different cities of Japan. One of the most memorable places I visited was Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The memorial is tribute to Hiroshima, the first city to suffer a nuclear attack and a memorial for the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the attack.
There is a place at the park where a little girl’s statue stands, in the wake of thousands of folded paper cranes. Her name is Sadako, and she was affected by the radiation caused from the nuclear bomb, at the very young age of 2. There is a book rendition of her story called, “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes“. It details Sadako’s wish of being cured of Leukemia.
“After being diagnosed with leukemia from the radiation, Sadako spent her time in a nursing home folding origami paper cranes in hope of making a thousand of them. She was inspired to do so by the Japanese legend that one who created a thousand origami cranes would be granted a wish. Her wish was simply to live. In this retelling of her story, she managed to fold only 644 cranes before she became too weak to fold any more, and died on the morning of 25 October 1955. Her friends and family helped finish her dream by folding the rest of the cranes, which were buried with Sadako.”
Ten years ago, Sadako’s story stuck with me as well as the visit to Hiroshima, and understanding what the meaning of paper cranes meant to the survivors of the Hiroshima bombing.
Ten years later, the story has transformed into a personal meaning for me and Samar. Like Sadako, Samar was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of two. Samar may not understand why she stays in her hospital bed. She may not understand why there are so many people in her hospital room waking her up at night. She may not understand the need for all the beeping machines, the tape on her skin, or the medicine we force on her. She doesn’t understand why she gets sick, or why she isn’t with her brothers at home. All my little girl knows is that dad spends time sitting at her bedside folding tiny paper cranes.
She watches me through the slats of her crib, fold, bend and whisper. I think about every crease, and imbue every wish of health and prosperity for her. I pray with every fold, that she gets better as time goes on. I focus on every paper crane as a wish to beat every cancerous cell out of existence. It provides the therapy I need to focus on the positive outcomes and look at the end goal of her remission. Today I’m at 126 paper cranes.
At the end of the 1000 paper cranes, I will build a piece and frame it so she can hang it on her wall and remember the dedication and wish that her dad had for her, about a time she was too young to remember. She will be healed and living life with dedication and meaning, She will look at the 1000 paper cranes, and someday understand the warrior she’s become. She will look at the 1000 paper cranes and understand that her father’s wish came true.