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Emily Grossman

A Late Letter

November 28, 2011 at 10:10 AM

Hello Akiko,

You and I may never meet, but I am a violinist who lives in Alaska. Stephen Brivati gave me your name last spring because I wanted to do something to help those who were affected by the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan. At the time that it happened, I was overwhelmed with grief. I have been in love with Japanese culture for most of my life, and hope to one day be able to finally visit your country.

I know you may think that I'd forgotten all about you and your plight, which I'm sure is still affecting you deeply, even though I hear nothing about it in the news anymore. But I have been thinking about you every day, wondering what words or gifts could ever be adequate. Nothing can replace your losses. I only hope that you and your loved ones are well, and continue to have hope that you are finding happiness despite this tragedy.

With much love, I give you my hat. A fellow violinist whom I have never met, who lives far away from me, dyed and spun the yarn and sent it to me as a gift. When I designed it, I wanted a pattern that would symbolize my home, Alaska, and friendship. The brown zig-zags are the Kenai mountains, the blue trim is the Kenai River, our source of food and livelihood. The snowflakes represent the many months of winter that make this place unique. This hat has kept me warm on many a cold night.

Most importantly, though, the little blue flowers with the yellow centers are called forget-me-nots. They are given to loved ones as reminders when distance keeps them apart.

I haven't forgotten you, and I hope that when you look at this hat, you will remember that someone out there is thinking of you and praying for you. I regret taking so long to send it, but hope that you will still be able to enjoy it.

From Tom Holzman
Posted on November 28, 2011 at 1:46 PM
Beautiful post and cool hat!
From Laurie Niles
Posted on November 28, 2011 at 5:57 PM
You made this, yes? Beautiful!
From Emily Grossman
Posted on November 28, 2011 at 8:50 PM
:) Thanks!

I need to clarify to those who weren't around when this undertaking commenced. Akiko is a member of the Sendai Philharmonic, an area of Japan that was heavily impacted by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. Stephen Brivati, a long-time member and contributor to, organized a campaign to reach out to those in the orchestra. Anyone who is still interested in helping out in any way can contact him through this website. You can also contact the philharmonic here:

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on November 30, 2011 at 8:21 PM
Emily, another great blog!

Like you, I too love Japanese culture. My recent trip to Kyoto gave me more insight into how resilient and creative the Japanese people are. I’ve also discovered that, while they are very much in tune with their own feelings and that of others, they often left them unsaid. You probably don’t need to be told this, but just to remind myself as well as those who might be interested, if we send a message or a gift out to Sendai and don’t hear back from them, it doesn’t mean that they are not hugely touched by our gesture. Silence can mean a lot of thing… I think if the saddest expression is withholding the tear with a forced smile, then sometimes the greatest appreciation can be silent.

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