Chrisâ€™s image is for a very close friend of his, Michelle Taketa, known to her friends as ‘Meesh.’ Less than a year ago Meesh took her own life. Chris explained to me that no one ever believed in him like Meesh did. It seems that her faith in him has had a very positive impact, as I have seen Chris take huge steps with his passion â€“ music â€“ in just a couple of years. I wonder if Chris could have taken those steps without her belief in him.
What Chris has done for this image is create an echo of the ceremony of Obon or Bon. This Japanese ceremony is held when the spirits are closest to the material world and at the end paper lanterns or “Toro Nagashi” are floated down a river as a way to guide the spirits of the deceased back to the peace of the spirit world. Meesh was half-Japanese, and was just starting to explore and connect to the Japanese side of her heritage. He made the lantern at home and then wrote Meeshâ€™s name in Japanese on one side of the lantern and his reason on another side.
Chris decided on Hakone Gardens as the location for the picture. Chris told me about one time in particular, after they had spent some time apart. They reconnected here in a very loving manner, watching a pair of turtles play in the water. Meesh felt an affinity all her life for the turtle and watching a young turtle teasing a larger turtle became an inside joke that always reminded him of her playful side. It was a place she often talked of revisiting and sharing with other friends.
When we got to the gardens they were closed but we explained our intentions to the people closing up and they gave us some extra time as night crept in. There we were, alone in the middle of these exquisite gardens, as Chris launched this delicate tribute to his friend. We werenâ€™t sure if it was actually going to float, but lo and behold, it gently drifted along on the still water, lazily spinning around. It was a touching and beautiful sight. I am sad for Chrisâ€™s loss but grateful that he let me participate in this ritual. I hope that, in some sense, Meeshâ€™s spirit has found its way back to the other world.
Click here to see a portrait of Chris.