Five Origami Cranes                     Fumio Arisaka
At the edge of a bookshelf on the wall in my study, five origami cranes which are connected by a string are quietly "flying". These cranes were made by some elementary school children in the United States for a girl. Her name is Zoe. She was a seven years old cute and active girl.
In November three years ago, I was visiting a family of a friend of mine in Groton, Connecticut during my business trip. His wife is a nurse and at that time they had two daughters of seven and five years old. The elder was Zoe and the younger is Kori. While I was staying with them for two days, I became friend with their daughters. On the first day, we folded paper cranes etc. and walked along a creek nearby. On the next day, we visited a museum and a park, and finally went to a shopping center. Zoe and Kori got somewhat tired for the long, one day excursion. So the friend of mine carried Kori and I carried Zoe on our backs and walked to the parking lot.
Half a year later, I was a bit concerned with the fact that he did not reply to my e-mail for a while, because he usually replied to me promptly. Then after a while, I learned that Zoe was seriously ill. He said that it was a kind of meningitis of unknown origin. In spite of prayers and cares, she passed away three weeks later.
I do not know how they managed to cope with the unexpected, sudden loss of their daughter whom they loved so much. It must have brought them a deep grief and sorrow. Just one year after Zoe's death, I received an e-mail from him. The new class teacher had decided to propose a project for the students to make one thousand origami cranes. The idea of one thousand origami cranes occurred to the teacher when she read a story "Sadako and thousand origami cranes", according to him. "Sadako" is a story of a girl who was a victim of radiation from atomic bomb. I suppose, through that cooperation on the project, the children had the opportunity of thinking about what they had lost and thus they were healed. It was about that time when the number of cranes was about to reach one thousand that Zoe's mother came to the class room. She brought two origami cranes which Zoe made. Zoe learned how to make it from her father's friend. Her mother asked the children with tears in her eyes to add the two cranes to their one thousand origami cranes. Children thus received the two cranes and hung from the ceiling together with other cranes which they had made. I was surprised, a bit confused and then deeply appreciated the coincidence that my visit to my friend at Groton gave Zoe the opportunity to participate herself in the project after her death.
The friend of mine mentioned later that after death of his daughter, what he had thought was important in life was no longer important, but now he can see more important things in life. However, he also mentioned that what he lost through which he learned was too big. 
One more year later, in February this year, a Gordon Conference was held at Ventura, California which my friend organized. To that conference, he brought with him a string with five origami cranes for me, which had been hung from the ceiling of Zoe's classroom. The five origami cranes which are connected by a string are still "flying" quietly in my study as if they like to tell me something.