After the graduation ceremony, one representative from each class receives the diplomas for all the students, and then they go back to their respective classes for the last LHR (Long Homeroom) of their high school life.
I come to the front of the classroom, starting with attendance number one, and hand the diploma to each student from the homeroom teacher’s hand. There were many parents in the back of the classroom and all the windows in the corridor had been removed so that we could see what was going on in the classroom from the corridor.
I encouraged them to say a few words to their parents and classmates about their feelings over the past three years. I was moved to tears when the usually quiet students expressed their gratitude to their parents.
After the students’ speeches, the deputy homeroom teacher said a few words and the homeroom teacher ended the LHR with a few words.
In my short teaching career, I have had seven third year homerooms. The last words of the homeroom teacher are always the same. In my early years, I probably spoke for about 20 minutes, but as I got used to it, I tried to keep it brief and to the point in 10 minutes.
”Congratulations on your graduation. I am very happy to be here. I know that some of you are thinking about how hard it is to graduate from high school. How many of your friends have left you since your first year? I know that you have worked hard to be born into this world and to survive. But please don’t forget your parents and friends who, if I may be so bold, have also helped you to get here. I am sure you will have many fond memories at dinner today.
Finally, I have a request to make to you. I do not want to be at your funerals. There was a time when a student died only a few months after graduation and a reunion was held only a few months later. I don’t want to go through that again. When I graduated from high school, every time I went back home, I heard about the deaths of my friends. I think that when you get a license to drive a car or a motorbike, your chances of being in danger obviously increase. You must take care of your health and live at least as long as your parents who are coming behind you. Please promise me this. You may have to face the death of your parents, but remember that it is your job as their children to send them off to heaven in good health. You will definitely outlive your parents. And although I may not be here at this school as I have been transferred, please come and visit us at school too. This concludes my last homeroom in high school.
Do you have any news from your staff?
It’s the end of the day, isn’t it?
That’s the last time I’m going to say this.
Now, class chairmen, please give your final speeches.”
The chairman says in a loud voice, “Stand up” and everyone stands up and everyone looks lively, as if this is not their usual homeroom. Goodbye.”
I don’t know how many years have passed since that time, but until now I don’t think any funerals have been held for the pupils, fortunately.
One of William Faulkner’s works is called ‘Absalom, Absalom!’. Faulkner took the title from the Old Testament book of Samuel. Absalom, Absalom!” is the story of a father, David, who laments the death of his son, Absalom.
“My son Absalom, my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Oh, I had died in his place! (from the Japanese Bible Society edition)
This is a verse that I never told my students, even though it was my father, David, who was responsible for Absalom’s death. But it is a word that comes to mind when I think of a young man dying.
I have two children, both of whom are well. But I have lost two lives before these two. I will not be able to erase the test that God gave David, and I will carry it with me until the day I die.
”I wish I had died on behalf of those children.”
Sayaka Kanda herself was a famous musical star in Japan.
Her mother, Seiko Matsuda, was a famous Japanese singer, and her father, Masaki Kanda, was also a famous Japanese actor, making Sayaka Kanda a popular celebrity in Japan.
Sayaka died at the age of 35 after jumping from a hotel on 18 December.
Sayaka’s parents and fans can’t begin to imagine the pain she must be feeling.
I hope you all will somehow manage to live until the end of your lives, until you can no longer breathe.
The death of Yukiko Okada was also a shock. I think that death is always next to us.
I think it is no exaggeration to say that as long as we are alive, we are surrounded by death.
We pray for Sayaka Kanda’s soul.
And when I think of her parents’ feelings, I feel unhappy, so I wrote this kind of text.
Please forgive me.