Mourning my mother through anime

I’m looking forward to going on adventures with the girls of A Place Further Than the Universe, because I’m anticipating them showing me all I could accomplish with help from the bright souls I know, and might still come to meet. It’s frightening, standing at the signpost to a new life path, knowing it’s where you need to go and faltering. But Mari wants so deeply to make her youth mean something, and Shirase has an even deeper need to reach Antarctica. Her mother went missing on an expedition there, three years ago. She’s held on to the hope that she’s still alive out there, somewhere. She’s clutched tight to the dream of going out into the biting wastes to find her, waiting and knowing her daughter wouldn’t leave her there alone.

a place further than the universe beautiful antarctica

Friendship in a desolate landscape

Even moving ahead with my life bereft of my mum feels like an unmapped journey across an unforgiving landscape. I want to move on, and yet I don’t want to feel I’m forgetting about her. Shirase’s improbable destination is almost uncomfortably close to how I imagine my way through the rest of my life, leaving footprints on unmarked territory until I may or may not see her again. But there’s a feeling that the destination isn’t the key to Shirase’s search for comfort, but gathering the friends and laughter to spark greater adventures her mother would want her to have.

Little lessons like these are all starting to mean something more. The courage to be something she would be proud of is even in choosing to brave the small stuff I’m scared of. My mother loved adventures, her life was full of them. I can take her wild spirit into myself, just by stepping out into life on my own. Loss makes us see our futures differently. It leads us down new paths. It challenges us to take the best of those we’ve lost and bring them with us in all we do, to do right by them. Loss is a calling. An incentive to action, to explore where we were afraid to before. Surely, nothing could be harder to face than losing a loved one. That ironic optimism, when we can seize it, makes us braver.

11 Comments on Mourning my mother through anime

  1. I just wan to say that I really loved this post, and thought it was very beautifully written. It’s one of those that just simply leaves you kind of at a loss for words, which in this case I really mean as a very high compliment😊


    • Elisabeth O'Neill // January 30, 2018 at 7:41 pm // Reply

      Thank you so much! Emotionally it was pretty tough to write, so it means a lot that you and others think it’s beautiful.


  2. Thank you for sharing—death and loss have come into my life lately, and I continue to process these ideas. Like you, I’ve thought about anime (I wrote a piece recently—not yet posted—about Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 that helped me think things out). I hope the best for you as you continue to cope with the loss and learn to live this new life that’s so altered. And thank you, again, for sharing (and for giving me a new perspective, too, on Princess Mononoke—one of my favorite films).


    • Elisabeth O'Neill // January 30, 2018 at 7:40 pm // Reply

      I’m so glad this piece reached you when you’re going through the same struggle. I hope there was a bit of comfort in it for you, and that you’re coping okay. Mononoke is one of those works you go back to every so often and see something brand new in its meaning, and just reflecting on it brought that new meaning to mind. Happy to have passed it on to someone who loves the movie like I do 😊


  3. This is genuinely really beautiful, thanks for posting it.


  4. I’m going to sound like an echo, but this was a beautifully moving post.


  5. Usually I take a while and put down a comment if I can add something (I get trapped in my own head that way), but this time I am literally left speechless. This was a really touching, moving and great post and it brought a few tears to my eye. I’ll echo the others. I can’t add anything more.


    • Elisabeth O'Neill // January 30, 2018 at 7:32 pm // Reply

      Knowing you felt something from it is enough, thank you. Just having it reach someone makes a piece like this worth writing.


  6. Incredible meditation on the loss of your mother and what it could all mean, and it really in a page… taught me something. Thank-you.

    Your mother raised someone really special here. You…


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