I want to take a moment to share a story with you. It is a story of tragedy and hope in equal parts. When I was in elementary school, we read the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. The book is based on the true story of Sadako Sasaki, who was 2 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. She survived with minimal injuries and continued to thrive as a happy child. Then, at the age of 12, she developed masses on her neck and behind her ears and purpura on her legs. She was subsequently diagnosed with leukemia and hospitalized on February 20, 1955.
While in the hospital, she learned of the Japanese legend that whoever folded 1,000 origami cranes would be granted one wish. According to folklore, the crane is a mystical creature believed to live for 1,000 years and is seen as a symbol of happiness, longevity, and good luck. As the story goes, Sadako worked day and night making cranes until she was too weak to fold any more. She managed to complete only 644 cranes, at which point her classmates took it upon themselves to finish the task*.
I was reminded of this story last weekend, when I leaned in to hug a friend and noted a silver necklace in the shape of an origami crane gracing her neck. She told me that it was a tradition in her family, and that she wore it as a wish for me and Ryan, as she had done previously when her own family member was ill. I was touched, and we spoke about the story for a bit and then turned our attention to celebrating our friends’ wedding.
Later that evening, she approached me and slipped the necklace around my neck. “I want you to have it. I have all of my hopes and wishes for you in there, and I want you to have it.” Thinking about that moment still brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. With that, I start this first crane. Thank you, Jenny O. You have a beautiful soul.