NETWORK OF ENTERTAINING ASIAN AMERICAN TALENT
Woman to publish book of e-mails sent to dead husband
The Yomiuri Shimbun
OSAKA–A 65-year-old woman of Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, will publish a book of e-mail messages she sent to the cell phone of her husband after he died of an asbestos-related disease to mark the first anniversary of his death this month.
Toshiko Fukuda expresses her grief over the loss of her husband, who died at age 69, and her enduring affection for him in the book, titled “Tengoku e no Tanshin Funin, Mada Mada Issho ni Itakatta” (Job Transfer to Heaven Without Family–I Wanted to Be With You Longer).
“I want more people to know about the problems caused by exposure to asbestos,” Fukuda said.
Her husband, Motoo, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2006. His disease was recognized as work-related, and he received workers accident compensation as he was thought to have been exposed to asbestos while working at a steel pipe manufacturing plant in the city.
His condition worsened as water accumulated in his lungs, and he began having hallucinations. He died on April 17 last year.
Although the couple used to talk of visiting foreign countries when they got older, Motoo’s death put an end to their plans. Overwhelmed by her sense of loss, Fukuda began sending messages to her husband’s cell phone.
A message sent on April 26 reads: “I couldn’t live if I didn’t think you were still beside me. I can’t live [without you]. I’m crying every day.”
Another one on July 15 says: “I want to call you ‘Otosan’ to my heart’s content. Why do you have to be inside such a small urn?”
On sleepless nights and mornings, she continued sending the messages. Every time she did, his cell phone she had placed in front of his portrait vibrated as if her message had reached him.
“My heart aches every time I remember your illness, and I feel like I’m getting sick. But it’s okay. If I die, I can be with you sooner.” The message was sent on Dec. 30. Her message on Jan. 1 read, “I don’t have that much time left, so I want to live more positively and freely.”
Fukuda has never forgotten to charge her husband’s cell phone. But one concern is that the messages received on his phone will eventually disappear as new ones come in. Hoping to keep them as a record, she has compiled about 50 messages and a written memoir about the days they spent together.
“I hope this book will deepen people’s understanding of asbestos-related diseases and help lead to early detection and a cure,” she said.
She also will include the following message in the book. “[Husband], I’ll let you know if a cure for the disease is ever found. If not, I don’t see why you had to be victimized. Please keep your eye on me. I want you to get relief [from the news] whatever it takes.”
(Apr. 14, 2009)