It was the anniversary of Kyoko Honda’s death. When I told her I couldn’t go with her to visit the grave this time, she simply answered, “Okay,” and smiled at me. How many more times will I be pardoned by that smile?
But I don’t have it in me anymore. I don’t have the courage to stand in front of that grave while I’m surrounded by friendly faces. I can’t do it.
Well, I wonder why Kyo might feel too guilty to visit Kyoko’s grave…
But he still goes to visit once he thinks Tohru & co are safely away. He considers visiting his mother’s grave while he’s there – and recalls an incident shortly after her death.
Father: He probably feels too guilty to get any closer!
Kazuma: …That’s not something you should say to a child.
Father: I’m saying it because he is a child. It doesn’t matter. I’m sure he doesn’t understand anyway.
I do understand.
Then he runs into Tohru’s grandpa, who remembers Kyo from his “rescue” back in Volume 1.
Grandpa: Is Kyoko…I mean, Tohru-san…is she doing all right?
Kyo: [Grandpa]…you call her “Kyoko”?
Grandpa: Hmm? I suppose I do.
Kyo: Don’t you think that’s…kind of cruel?
Grandpa: …It might be. But you see, I wanted to tie them together. In some form or another. I wanted to prove that Kyoko-san really had existed. I felt that girl would fall apart otherwise. Although…that’s not all it was. And I’m sure Tohru-san figured it out somewhere along the way. She realized I was saying it just as much for my own benefit. Because I missed her too. I missed her so much. Everyone I know leaves me behind. So I wanted to at least be connected to them somehow.
He is a little selfish, but it’s understandable to be selfish in your grief, especially considering that Grandpa Honda doesn’t seem to care much for any of his other remaining family members (recall that he once called them “evil”). But Tohru really wanted that connection to her mother, too, at least at the time.
Grandpa: Do you…know why? Why Tohru-san talks the way she does? Why she’s so polite? […] Apparently, she does it in conscious imitation of her father, Katsuya. At Katsuya’s funeral, a few worthless relatives said some truly hurtful things. “You know, she doesn’t look a thing like Katsuya!” “I bet he’s not even the father.” “Leaving a child like this behind is no consolation at all!” […] Perhaps they thought a child wouldn’t understand what they were saying. That’s ridiculous. Children always understand much more than adults give them credit for. At the very least, they can tell if the intent was kind or hateful. So of course it bothered Tohru-san. Naturally. Katsuya had died, and Kyoko-san was wasting away before our eyes. How could she not be troubled?
Tohru: She’s always sad now. She won’t talk to me. Is she sad because I don’t look like Daddy? How can I be just like him? If I can be just like him, will Mommy be herself again? Will she stay with me?
Tohru’s always taken on way more responsibility than she could reasonably manage. She always sees the wrongs in herself before she considers the wrongs in the people around her.
It’s not like she made it that far with only nice things in her life. This one time, [Kyoko] was freaking out because she had to work the night shift. So I snuck over to check on her kid. Tohru was all alone. Just seeing that, I could tell she was incredibly lonely.
Kyo: Hey…what did your dad look like? Before, you said you didn’t really remember him, but do you resemble him?
Tohru: W-well…not…in looks…b-but, um, the way I talk! It seems the way we talk is very similar! Even Mom was surprised by how much I sounded like him.
Kyo: Huh. I see. I bet you were happy to hear that.
Tohru: It’s a lie. None of it’s true. I’m not like him at all. It’s because I’m not like him that I started doing it. Imitating him. I…I just…to tell the truth, in my mind, my father…he was the bad guy. Even though I do remember what he was really like. My memories are faint, but I can remember how kind he was and the presents he gave me. I remembered all of that back then too. And yet I was so afraid that he would take Mom away from me. I was frantic…I needed to keep her attention somehow. I wanted her to stay so badly, I was doing anything I could think of to tie us together. I didn’t want to be left behind. I would have done anything to feel secure. So it was simple to pin it all on him. To cast him as the bad guy…if it was for my own sake, I would have broken any promise…I’m a horrible person.
She didn’t want to think ill of her mother, and she understandably felt abandoned by her father, so it wasn’t a huge leap to vilify him in her young mind. It’s not wrong to want to feel secure.
This is just ridiculous. I bet she thought long and hard. She didn’t want her mom to go. She didn’t want to be left behind. So she put her mind to it and chased down the traces of her father left in her memory. And even though the answer she reached was totally absurd and off the mark, she clung to that nonsense stupidly, stubbornly…trying to cover up her loneliness and mercilessly blaming herself. This girl is so foolish, and so dear to me.
Kyo: …Your mother. I’m sure she realized what you were doing. But even so, you supported her plenty.
Tohru: […] Sorry for all that depressing talk just now…
Kyo: It’s okay. Talk like that as much as you like. Let it out. You’re not gonna scare me off or anything.
She’s not alone anymore.
Grandpa: Please take good care of her. That girl’s happiness is everyone’s happiness.
Until next time…