It is time again to leave precious Kyoto town.
The last couple of months have been some of the most challenging of my life and without the gentle caress of Kyoto's nurturing hands I'm not sure how I would have pushed through.
My partner's brother was beaten and killed in the streets of Melbourne just before Christmas.
After 2 horrendous weeks attending to related duties ( particularly difficult and rushed as we were in town from interstate), including arranging a delayed funeral due the Coroner's inquest and that 'stop everything event' known as Christmas, dealing almost daily with the Victorian Police (who were most caring by the way and cleverly arrested and charged two offenders within days) and liaising with the Victims of Crime people.... (yes, victims of crime... we could never have imagined ending up labelled as such nor did I realise that once you enter the club there is certain assistance and support on offer to help you deal with logistics - well, when staff are not on Christmas or sick leave..), comforting his mother and friends etc we flew back home, hurriedly packed our bags and hopped on a flight to Japan the following day for the commencement of my new tour business.
From the moment we received the phone call, requesting us to come to Melbourne, life has seemed particularly surreal. Flying to Japan on the back of all we had just experienced took things to a whole new level of course. I guess I was lucky in a way that I had so much to do.. I had no choice but to keep moving forward, getting things done. I urgently finished off final ground arrangements for my inaugural Zenbu Ryori and Zenbu Zen tours which had naturally been put on hold during our stay in Melbourne.... then in between the two tours, a week apart, I made arrangements for introducing Kyoto town and its wonders to celebrity chef Peter Gilmore and Restaurateur John Fink.
To say I've been busy would be a gross understatement. I've had so many moments during the last 7 weeks or so when I have stared into the mirror wondering how the fuck I was still standing and keeping a smile on my face. Adrenalin and sleeping tablets helped in the early stages of course.
Showing my tour customers an intimate and special time (Kyoto has a whole bunch of new fans!) was probably my saving grace but I still cannot fathom how my body and mind allowed me to keep going right up to last night when I waved Peter and John off.
It is pretty amazing what we can do when we have no choice. I've always, well, for the majority of my life, been a positive thinker and being able to "trust" that all would be ok eventually... and it will be...enabled all I guess. Plus these new tours are an integral part of our future and it was so important from so many angles to throw myself into them with all my heart.
On the flipside of my busy-busy stuff was my poor, grieving partner... huddled in a luxury hotel room "prison", attempting to come to terms with the loss of his brother and all that comes with that - including the stinging reminder of the death of his father just a few years prior. Not to mention the difficult family relationships and memories that are highlighted during such times. Each night after busy tour days I'd come home to nurse and console his aching heart and body, his confused mind and prod his numbness... making sure he was still able to feel something on the dark nights when it seemed he had given up on the world.
We have just a few days left here, in the beautifully serene Hyatt Regency Hotel Kyoto where we have been looked after in the most considerate, respectful, caring way by the kindest (and most "onto it") hotel manager in the world Mr Ken Yokoyama and his fantastic staff. It is top down stuff all the way here. A 5 star experience with the warmth of a family run business. Arigatou Yokoyama san. I'd also like to thank Executive chef Shaun Keenan for his assistance, care and generosity throughout our stay.
The key staff have been keeping an eye on my other half whilst I have been pre-occupied - making sure he was fed, watered and aired. Can't imagine finding this elsewhere. The poor house-keeping staff on the other hand probably haven't known quite what to make of the state of our room - the result of someone working around the clock and a very sad partner...
Last night I hit a wall. My body ached like I had been picked up by a typhoon and smashed onto rocks. I've slept on and off for 24 hours and feel a little better. I was hoping I'd hold out until I got home so that we could enjoy our last few days but as soon as the boys left yesterday my mind and body must have had a conference I wasn't privy to and they pushed me onto my bed. I'm grateful for their insistence.
So, an easy week for me is in order before throwing myself back into work that has been left in wait - and I know you will forgive my delay in posting here for all these good reasons!. I will get back to some kind of normal routine soon (well as normal as my life gets!!) and promise to update you all on the journey I have taken with my new tours - with the most amazing bunch of engaged travellers - I have truly been looked after. I guess there is a force out there that knew there was a small chance I might have fallen in a heap had I been dumped with a less than lovely bunch of people.
So, we keep putting one foot in front of the other - as anyone who has grieved will attest to. This is not the first loss for either of us. I've lost several loved ones - including my own father when he was just 58. Suddenly and completely unexpectedly. I know it gets easier.
You have no choice but to keep moving forward when you are knocked off track. Lost loved ones would not want it any other way. There's a sense of 'if you stop for too long you simply won't get up again' but it is important to rest and process of course. And now I will take some time to let recent events wash over me.
Thank you to EVERYONE from my fabulous travel agent Daisuke Mitsukoshi at Pitt Travel in Sydney, to all my gorgeous tour peeps - total angels, to all at the Hyatt Regency Hotel Kyoto and our family and friends (and strangers!) who have supported us from near and afar - you all know who you are. Words can't really express how grateful we are.
And finally, thank you to my beautiful G who through all the crap he's been through in his short life chooses to believe me that everything will be OK.
Yep, I'm tired and emotional. That's life at times. This is real and this is me right now. I believe it is important to share - the good, the bad, the inexplicable - because there is always someone worse off than you and sharing information can help put it all into perspective.
Thank you Kyoto for your protection and healing energy. Be back soon....