In Autumn of 2010, I found myself sitting in a quaint tea house in Osaka. I had walked from my hotel where I’d spent the better part of the day reading my best friend’s eulogy, over a wooden bridge towards the tea house. Overhung by cherry blossom trees that were losing their flowers, the bridge seemed the perfect place to reflect on what had become my last day with my friend.
Before her passing she had often asked me to describe the trees in Japan. ‘Tell me about the cherry blossoms in Autumn’ she’d said, and I’d tell her they were beautiful. They were white, pink and every variation in between.
The best thing about visiting them in Autumn was the way it seemed to be snowing cherry blossoms.
Their sweet fragrance filled the air and their small flowers and petals would be seamlessly plucked from the bony trees by the wind for them to rain down. They’d create spectacular, coloured carpets for tourists to appreciate and locals to tiptoe across. I’d tell her about the bridge over the lake that lead to a stone path, darkened with moss. The path lead up to the little tea house that looked traditional from the outside but was surprisingly modern inside. I’d tell her about how looking out the window at home seemed the same as looking out the window of the tea house, at home during the winter the snow would fall onto the windowsill and create mounds of white for us to peer through, just as the cherry blossoms would in Japan.
The only difference was instead of looking at exquisite snowflakes, you would be looking at the remarkable detail in a single blossom. ‘If I don’t make it there,’ she’d said, ‘take me when I’m gone.’ She’d said it more as a question than a statement, but I knew it was her dying wish. So I found myself, that particular Autumn, dripping my wet, hot tears into the lake, while I gently scattered her ashes to fall under the bridge. Her ashes mixed with the delicate flowers and it seemed so fitting that her spirit should be left among sweet tiny pink and white florets to float along a peaceful water’s edge forever.