"We lost almost everything, but we have one thing.  That is hope.  Today is better than yesterday and I hope tomorrow will be better than today."

These words are from my friend Tomoyuki, who resides in Sendai with his family.  Although I'm deeply relieved to hear they're ok, the pain inside continues to grow as the survivors and the victims' families are still dealing with the aftermath of last week's horrific disaster.  Thousands have perished.  More are homeless and have no access to electricity, water, and gas.  Some have died in their shelters.  Many are still unaccounted for.  In Fukushima, the struggle to stabilize Daiichi continues.  The emergency workers at the plant are staring at death in the face while fighting heroically to prevent the problem from worsening.  

In senseless times like these, we need to come together.  As I'm writing this, Tomo and his family are still working against the clock to provide for their communities.  If they stopped trying, people in his hometown are going to die.  They have no time to dwell or be in shock.  They simply must carry on and do what they can amidst all the chaos and fear.  Instead of feeling despondent, he chooses to stay positive and hopeful.  To me that is true courage.  

This piece is my tribute to Northern Japan.  It is my homage to all the relief workers.  It is my prayer for all the survivors, the victims, and their loved ones.  Date Masamune, known as the 'one-eyed dragon' with a moon crescent on his helmet, is an iconic historical figure of Northern Japan.  Here he is wounded and battling for survival.  Yet his remains defiant, determined to protect the golden koi in his arms.  The koi represents 'hope' and the resiliency of every survivor.  

Tomo, I feel helpless as I watch and hear what is happening around you.  I can't do much at the moment, but I hope this painting is enough to lift your spirit.  And the spirits of all the people who are living through this.

title: Hope & Courage
dimensions: 4 ft x 4 ft
date: March 18, 2011