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September 03, 2004

8月26日夕、メモリアル・サービス

 8月26日夕、ボストン郊外のサマービルで、熱田千華子さんをしのぶメモリアル・サービスが開かれました。マサチューセッツで親しくしていた友人たちにお別れの機会をというご家族の配慮で、会場は元ルームメイトのデブ・ペックさんが自宅を提供してくれました。

 「アコ」を愛した友人たち、50人あまりが次々と駆けつけました。中庭には友人のクリスチャンさんが写したアコさんの美しい写真。グロースターのビーチを歩く姿、子供のような無邪気な笑顔、スイレンの池を泳ぐ素足――。

 友人が持ち寄ったたくさんの花束とロウソクの光に囲まれ、デブさんの司会でセレモニーが始まると、友人が1人ずつ前に出て、それぞれアコさんの思い出を披露しました。自分にとってアコさんがどれほど特別な人だったかを、競い合うように。明るくポジティブで、鋭い観察力の持ち主だったアコさんのエピソードはどれもユーモアにあふれ、みんな大笑いしながら、涙を流していました。長い付き合いの人も、1度だけの出会いの人も、アコさんが出会う人たちに鮮烈な印象を残していたことがしのばれます。これほどたくさんの素敵な人たちに愛されていたことが、何よりもアコさんの人柄を物語っていました。

 BGMにはアコさんが大好きだったU2やサザンオールスターズの音楽。英語のコラムとポエムをまとめた作品集と、アコさんが旅先で集めて大切に取っていた石のコレクションが参列者に配られました。

 友人のランディさんが写した大きなポートレートの中で、にっこりと微笑むアコさん。その前に遺骨が置かれ、セレモニーの締めくくりにお父様の熱田敏弘さんから参列者1人ひとりにお線香が渡されて、遺影の前に供えて黙祷を捧げました。セレモニーが終わってもみんななかなか会場をあとにできず、夜が更けるまで、アコさんの思い出を語り合っていました。

(鈴木聖子)

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