Posted by Naomi Ishisaka
I have been trying to think of what to write to share our deep appreciation for the immense outpouring of love and support we have experienced this week. We are so buoyed by everyone who has shared their stories, signed the guestbook, come by to visit, dropped off food, send their words of encouragement from across the country. We are seeing it all – and are so deeply grateful. We are particularly grateful for the crew of folks who have been here in the hospital to be a friendly voice when Dad wakes up from sedation. This is an unpredictable and stressful experience and our fear is everyone’s fear – that Dad will wake up, in an frightening place, unable to speak and with no one he knows around. So we have tried to have someone with him at all times (except midnight to 5 a.m.) to be there when he’s in a more awake state to soothe that process.
It’s clear how Dad’s definition of family and community has manifested itself here. I was starting to write thank you to friends and family and try to categorize people into camps but then realized all my Dad’s friends are family to him and his community is built of friends turned family.
I know we will have many, many more people to thank in the coming days, but for now, let me just say thank you to Eddie Uehara, who we can trust completely to be our surrogate in my Dad’s care when needed, who has been at my Dad’s bedside in the dark of night and soothed him when he needed a familiar voice. To Michael Smukler, Eddie’s partner in crime, organizer extraordinaire, who has a knack for seeing a problem and solving it. For Michael Uehara who channels my Dad’s penchant for wit and dry humor. For Tracy Harachi, who manages to brilliantly communicate with and organize people from wherever she is in the globe. For Emiko Tajima who has provided support and a calming presence for our Dad. For Sue Sohng, en route from Korea. For Nathan and Joe who have jumped in with food and support. For Uncle Dan Rounds and Uncle Bruce Barcklow who, as lifelong friends of my Dad’s, have been a steadfast presence here and reminder of what my Dad wants and cares about. For my ride or die, friend for life Karen Toering who is always ready with a helping hand. For Malkia Cyril, on her way from Oakland, with her neverending support and her thoughtful advocacy and advice. For Liz Goodwin who has been ensuring we stay nourished. For Auntie Carrie who came from Gig Harbor. For SSW’s Wendy Lustbader, who answered our call for help on how to communicate with our Dad during intubation. For family Aiko Sonoda and Kirk who reminded us of the history and beauty of our Japanese-American experience – fresh manju and hanafuda. For Marissa who brought food and much-needed counsel. For Sabrina and Lila and Lana and Paul and Jenn and Nikken and Carson and Anita and Marie and Vicki and Greg who have ensured we were well fed and provided company. For Bernie, Gita, Theresa R, Alma, and many many other former students and colleagues for sharing your love and light on Facebook and elsewhere. For Ryan Bailey who has been a steadfast supporter, cooking meals for our Mom, taking care of Evie, shuttling back and forth from the ICU so she can come visit and bring us happiness. For Anna Rogers who has been a huge help to our family this week. For Kathy Block who has been following closely with her nursing background and offering suggestions and support. For my co-workers at the Training Partnership and Health Benefits Trust, who have gently but persistently insisted I stop trying to work all the time from the ICU. For Toshi’s new employers, Emergent, for their understanding during this time. And last but not least, our little ray of light, Evie, who has brought so much joy to us and her Gpa here at the ICU. And for all the folks across the country who have offered their support – don’t worry, I am taking all your names – and when we get organized this weekend we will start taking you up on it. This is going to be a long haul, and we are just getting started. Your support is what makes it possible for us to be here – night and day – to ensure Dad gets the best possible care.
Much love to all of you, near and far. – Naomi