Every one knows what a fuss it can be to wake up their kids or get ready for work early in the morning. The process feels like moving heaven and earth sometimes—at least, that’s how it is for most people. For Hana Yasutake, it’s a much different story.
Every morning since she was five years old, the young girl, who hails from Fukoka, Japan, has risen at 6 a.m., just like clockwork. But she’s not getting up to go to school. Instead, she has a different reason—and it’s simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring.
Ever since Hana Yasutake was a young girl, the Fukoka, Japan, native was seemingly attached to the hip of her mother, Chie. Whatever Mom did, Hana was sure to follow suit.
By the time she was five years old, Hana began to wake up each and every morning at the stroke of six, just like her mom did. Although she was still so young, she was always an early bird.
But what made her want to get out of bed at such a young age while her friends were sleeping in? It was no simple task for most children. Still, Hana’s reason was simultaneously inspiring and heartbreaking—and it was all because of Chie.
In 2001, Chie battled—and eventually beat—breast cancer. Sadly, it appeared as though her treatments had affected her ability to conceive. She and her husband, Shingo, were devastated.
Yet in 2003, after a stroke of luck, Chie became pregnant! Soon after, the couple welcomed Hana into the world. Hana was truly a blessing—a miracle baby. Yet shortly before her first birthday, Hana’s parents received horrible news…
When Hana was just nine months old, Chie learned that her cancer had returned. She had a half-inch-long tumor on her lung. This development was a devastating blow to the new family.
For the next several years, Chie battled the cancer. In an effort to take back control of her life, she began to document and blog about her struggle living with the disease. Her focus, though, was mainly on how lucky she felt to be a mother.
In one particular post, Chie expressed her gratitude for having Hana in her life, especially given her unlikely odds. “Meeting my daughter is indeed a miracle in my life. I treasure her with all my life, more than I love myself,” she wrote.
Chie knew that she would likely never get better. Nonetheless, she bravely addressed the issue head-on. “Whether I have cancer or not, I’m supposed to die first,” she wrote. “It can’t be the other way around. This is why I have to die without any regrets.”
It was at that point that Chie’s priorities underwent a serious shift. Suddenly, she began to focus on being sure that little Hana would be okay, no matter what. She wanted her to be able to care of herself in case she wasn’t able to be there for her.
“I just want to help [Hana] so that one day, when she becomes independent, she can take care of herself,” Chie wrote on her blog. To do so, she had Hana begin adhering to a daily schedule that mirrored her own.
Bright and early every morning, Chie would wake up Hana and get ready to start the day. They did laundry together and they cleaned together. Though most young kids her age would’ve rather slept, Hana delighted in spending this time with her mom.
Chie wanted Hana to know that, with the right tools, she would be able to do anything she wanted. “Your education is not complete without knowing these survival skills. As long as you’re healthy and independent, you can survive anywhere,” she wrote.
Most importantly, Chie stressed the significance of being able to properly prepare a meal. On her blog, she said, “Hana-chan, knowing how to cook is important in your life. I will teach you how to handle knives and do household chores.”
While other children received toys, Chie gave Hana her own apron for her fourth birthday. After she taught her daughter how to cook, Chie knew it was time for Hana to receive a very special recipe…
The recipe was her own miso soup! Hana had diligently risen every morning to prepare the dish alongside her mother. It was only natural that she should learn how to make it herself.
Chie tragically passed away at the age of 33, but she’d more than accomplished her goal; Hana was prepared. And then something incredible happened: although her mother was no longer beside her, Hana still chose to wake up at 6 a.m. to prepare her mother’s miso soup!
Hana even chose to garnish the soup with Chie’s trademark leek topping. She said that making the dish helped her feel closer to her mother. “When I am cooking miso soup, I feel happy as if my mother was standing beside me,” she explained.
In the years after her mom’s passing, Hana went on to pen an essay, “Promise to My Mother,” which was subsequently turned into an elementary school textbook. There was even a movie made about her, fittingly titled Hanachan no misoshiru, which translated to “Hana’s Miso Soup.”
It’s amazing how diligently young Hana stuck to her mom’s schedule. Their time together might have been short, but Chie clearly had a lasting impact on her. Clearly, they had one special bond!
It’s heartbreaking that Hana lost her mother at such a young age. Thankfully, Chie taught her well—and now Hana forever has a special routine and recipe to make sure her mom is always a part of her life.
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