Shin’s Tricycle. “And a sword will pierce your soul too.” – Luke 2:35 Those are among the toughest words in the New Testament. They are the words of Simeon to Mary about the baby she is carrying. This child is going to cause you such pain, pain unlike you have ever experienced before. That it is going to tear you apart. The heartache you will go through will feel like someone has gutted you with a sword. That is a truth no one tells you about before you become a parent. Take the most painful moment in your life, then increase it tenfold, and that is not even going to come close to what you will feel when it comes to your child if you are a good parent. You hold this little creature in your hands and there is so much love, love unlike anything you have ever felt before. You cannot describe it to someone who has never felt it. Their best moments are your best moments. The first time they walk. Their first day of school. Their first Prom. Graduation.  When you walk them down the isle. Grandchildren. That is my little girl. That is my little boy. But when they fail, get teased, bullied, strike or fall apart, it breaks you in two. It hurts you worse than it does them. Ask any parent about that long night when their child was sick and in the hospital. It can be four or five decades later and they will give you a look that tells you they still remember it, the tears, that prayer that comes from somewhere so deep inside that they did not even know it was there.   And a sword will pierce your soul too. It is a beautiful museum. It is well worth your time. In the midst of the beautiful objects and pictures is a rusty, beaten-up tricycle that was owned by a little boy with the name of Shin in a Plexiglass case. It looks like it doesn’t belong there and could fall apart at any second, dissolving to dust right before your eyes. The handlebars are slightly twisted, the rubber petrified and almost gone. It is one of the few remaining tricycles left from the World War II era. Most having been melted down in the many metal drives to support the war efforts back then. More importantly, it was three-year-old Shin’s most prized possession.  There was nothing remarkable about three-year-old Shin. He had two older sisters. His family lived in a quiet neighborhood, with a gentle river flowing through the backyard. His best friend was a little girl next door named Kimmi. They spent hours playing together. It was the kind of childhood we would all want for our children. Shin had seen a tricycle in one of his picture books, and wanted one for his very own, with a longing, that hurts, that we all have for some toy, doll, or object that we all have at that age. The toy that grabs our imagination. He begged his father for it. “Papa, buy me the tricycle won’t you? Please, Papa, please.” He even pulled the trick of refusing to eat one day, trying to manipulate his father to buy him a trike.  Every parent has been there. There was a war going on. The factories were focused on the war effort. There was not a new tricycle to be found. His mother would try to comfort him the way all mothers do, telling him to be patient, “We all have to live without the things we want right now.” But Shin believed in miracles and one day his miracle happened. His uncle, on leave from the navy, stopped by the house. Under his arm was a big package. “Shin, come here. I have something for you,” he said with a smile on his face, the way that all good uncles do. Shin’s eyes got as big as saucers as he danced with the energy that only three-year-olds have, as he excitedly asked, “What is it? What is it?” “Take a guess,” his uncle proclaimed, “It is something you really, really want.” His uncle kept the gift just out of arms reach from Shin until it was almost too much. Shin tried to grab the package, and his uncle would hide it behind his back, until his nephew saw the bright red handlebar grip that had broken through the packaging. “It’s a tricycle!” the little boy squealed. If you are a parent, it is one of those moments you treasure for the rest of your life.  The little boy actually started to cry. Shin asked his uncle, “Where did you get it?” “I found it hidden in the back of my closet,” his uncle said with a wink, “I was going to wait until your birthday next month but I am shipping out so I decided to give it to you now.” Shin jumped on his tricycle, looked at his parents, and said, “My dreams have come true.” Shin loved his fire engine red tricycle the way only a little child can. He rode it all over the place. Like any good kid he even asked Kimmi to play with it. When your dreams come true you want to share it with other people. August 6, 1945, the date still stands in Shin’s dad’s mind. Kimmi and his son were playing on the tricycle in the yard.  They were laughing and giggling.  Even the men in uniform repairing the street in front of house seemed to enjoy watching these two kids tear around the house like they were on a racetrack, disappearing around back and quickly reappearing out front, on this trike. His dad even remembers hearing the cicadas in a nearby tree making their presence known. It was one of those moments you wish you could save in a bottle and enjoy slowly over the rest of your life. Shin’s dad went back into the house to get ready for work. It was a good day. In a flash, a bright terrible, blinding flash, it was over. The world ended. Everything went black. Shin’s dad woke up in the rubble of his house, unable to move. In the darkness, a small ray of light found him. It was only then that he realized the whole house had collapsed on him. Yet, he crawled and scratched towards that light until, exhausted, he was on his roof. Standing there, it was surreal. Everything was gone. The men out front, his neighbor’s homes, the entire city, like someone had just erased it from existence. Nobuno Tetsutani, Shin’s dad, could not believe what he was witnessing. It was Hiroshima, Japan. The United States had just dropped the atomic bomb. It was then he heard his wife cry, “Help! Help me, Nobuno.” She was clawing at the rubble. She was trying to free Shin, trapped beneath a beam, his little hands still clutching the handlebars of his beloved tricycle. He pulled that beam off his little boy with superhuman strength. His wife pulled Shin to safety, his face swollen and bleeding. He couldn’t talk but he was alive, but that kid would not let go of that tricycle handle. The rest of it was in the wreckage, but Shin would not let go of that handle.  It was then that Nobuno saw the dresses of his two daughters in the rubble. He dug and he dug, telling them the whole time that daddy was coming. The fire, the heat, the beam he tried to pry off of them burst into flames. There was nothing he could do, but Shin, his beloved Shin was still alive. The whole world seemed on fire. They ran to the river. What they saw there was a horrible sight. People burned, moaning and screaming. Those that drank the water died. Shin finally spoke. He asked for some water, but they knew they could not give him any. It was then that he whispered to his dad, “Papa, my… my… tricycle.” His dad told him, “Shin, you still have the handle in your hands.” In all that pain and agony, the little boy smiled. He still had his tricycle. He died later that night, ten days shy of his fourth birthday. The next day Nobuo dug through what remained of their house and removed the bodies of his daughters, apologizing the whole time for his inability to save them. His grief was such that he decided to bury his children in his backyard.  He dug a grave for Shin. It was then that he saw Kimmi’s mother holding the lifeless body of her daughter. They agreed that these two best friends should be buried together holding hands. Next to Shin, his placed his treasured tricycle, the rest of which his dad had freed from the debris. Every evening for forty years Nobuno Tetsutani stood by the river and called his children’s names, “Shin! Michiko! Yoko!” like they were out there somewhere playing and it was time to come in for supper.  Finally the Tetsutanis decided to give their children a proper burial in a real cemetery. It was time. They dug and there was Kimi and Shin, just bones now, but still holding hands. Next to Shin was his tricycle, still looking like it wanted to be ridden four decades later. The next day they gave the tricycle to the museum so that maybe someone would remember innocent little girls and boys die in wars as well. “Fire and fury like the world has never seen…” Somewhere, if you listen, you can hear the voice of a little three-year-old boy somewhere squeal with excitement, “All my dreams have come true.” “And a sword will pierce your soul too.”
Shin’s Tricycle. “And a sword will pierce your soul too.” – Luke 2:35 Those are among the toughest words in the New Testament. They are the words of Simeon to Mary about the baby she is carrying. This child is going to cause you such pain, pain unlike you have ever experienced before. That it is going to tear you apart. The heartache you will go through will feel like someone has gutted you with a sword. That is a truth no one tells you about before you become a parent. Take the most painful moment in your life, then increase it tenfold, and that is not even going to come close to what you will feel when it comes to your child if you are a good parent. You hold this little creature in your hands and there is so much love, love unlike anything you have ever felt before. You cannot describe it to someone who has never felt it. Their best moments are your best moments. The first time they walk. Their first day of school. Their first Prom. Graduation.  When you walk them down the isle. Grandchildren. That is my little girl. That is my little boy. But when they fail, get teased, bullied, strike or fall apart, it breaks you in two. It hurts you worse than it does them. Ask any parent about that long night when their child was sick and in the hospital. It can be four or five decades later and they will give you a look that tells you they still remember it, the tears, that prayer that comes from somewhere so deep inside that they did not even know it was there.   And a sword will pierce your soul too. It is a beautiful museum. It is well worth your time. In the midst of the beautiful objects and pictures is a rusty, beaten-up tricycle that was owned by a little boy with the name of Shin in a Plexiglass case. It looks like it doesn’t belong there and could fall apart at any second, dissolving to dust right before your eyes. The handlebars are slightly twisted, the rubber petrified and almost gone. It is one of the few remaining tricycles left from the World War II era. Most having been melted down in the many metal drives to support the war efforts back then. More importantly, it was three-year-old Shin’s most prized possession.  There was nothing remarkable about three-year-old Shin. He had two older sisters. His family lived in a quiet neighborhood, with a gentle river flowing through the backyard. His best friend was a little girl next door named Kimmi. They spent hours playing together. It was the kind of childhood we would all want for our children. Shin had seen a tricycle in one of his picture books, and wanted one for his very own, with a longing, that hurts, that we all have for some toy, doll, or object that we all have at that age. The toy that grabs our imagination. He begged his father for it. “Papa, buy me the tricycle won’t you? Please, Papa, please.” He even pulled the trick of refusing to eat one day, trying to manipulate his father to buy him a trike.  Every parent has been there. There was a war going on. The factories were focused on the war effort. There was not a new tricycle to be found. His mother would try to comfort him the way all mothers do, telling him to be patient, “We all have to live without the things we want right now.” But Shin believed in miracles and one day his miracle happened. His uncle, on leave from the navy, stopped by the house. Under his arm was a big package. “Shin, come here. I have something for you,” he said with a smile on his face, the way that all good uncles do. Shin’s eyes got as big as saucers as he danced with the energy that only three-year-olds have, as he excitedly asked, “What is it? What is it?” “Take a guess,” his uncle proclaimed, “It is something you really, really want.” His uncle kept the gift just out of arms reach from Shin until it was almost too much. Shin tried to grab the package, and his uncle would hide it behind his back, until his nephew saw the bright red handlebar grip that had broken through the packaging. “It’s a tricycle!” the little boy squealed. If you are a parent, it is one of those moments you treasure for the rest of your life.  The little boy actually started to cry. Shin asked his uncle, “Where did you get it?” “I found it hidden in the back of my closet,” his uncle said with a wink, “I was going to wait until your birthday next month but I am shipping out so I decided to give it to you now.” Shin jumped on his tricycle, looked at his parents, and said, “My dreams have come true.” Shin loved his fire engine red tricycle the way only a little child can. He rode it all over the place. Like any good kid he even asked Kimmi to play with it. When your dreams come true you want to share it with other people. August 6, 1945, the date still stands in Shin’s dad’s mind. Kimmi and his son were playing on the tricycle in the yard.  They were laughing and giggling.  Even the men in uniform repairing the street in front of house seemed to enjoy watching these two kids tear around the house like they were on a racetrack, disappearing around back and quickly reappearing out front, on this trike. His dad even remembers hearing the cicadas in a nearby tree making their presence known. It was one of those moments you wish you could save in a bottle and enjoy slowly over the rest of your life. Shin’s dad went back into the house to get ready for work. It was a good day. In a flash, a bright terrible, blinding flash, it was over. The world ended. Everything went black. Shin’s dad woke up in the rubble of his house, unable to move. In the darkness, a small ray of light found him. It was only then that he realized the whole house had collapsed on him. Yet, he crawled and scratched towards that light until, exhausted, he was on his roof. Standing there, it was surreal. Everything was gone. The men out front, his neighbor’s homes, the entire city, like someone had just erased it from existence. Nobuno Tetsutani, Shin’s dad, could not believe what he was witnessing. It was Hiroshima, Japan. The United States had just dropped the atomic bomb. It was then he heard his wife cry, “Help! Help me, Nobuno.” She was clawing at the rubble. She was trying to free Shin, trapped beneath a beam, his little hands still clutching the handlebars of his beloved tricycle. He pulled that beam off his little boy with superhuman strength. His wife pulled Shin to safety, his face swollen and bleeding. He couldn’t talk but he was alive, but that kid would not let go of that tricycle handle. The rest of it was in the wreckage, but Shin would not let go of that handle.  It was then that Nobuno saw the dresses of his two daughters in the rubble. He dug and he dug, telling them the whole time that daddy was coming. The fire, the heat, the beam he tried to pry off of them burst into flames. There was nothing he could do, but Shin, his beloved Shin was still alive. The whole world seemed on fire. They ran to the river. What they saw there was a horrible sight. People burned, moaning and screaming. Those that drank the water died. Shin finally spoke. He asked for some water, but they knew they could not give him any. It was then that he whispered to his dad, “Papa, my… my… tricycle.” His dad told him, “Shin, you still have the handle in your hands.” In all that pain and agony, the little boy smiled. He still had his tricycle. He died later that night, ten days shy of his fourth birthday. The next day Nobuo dug through what remained of their house and removed the bodies of his daughters, apologizing the whole time for his inability to save them. His grief was such that he decided to bury his children in his backyard.  He dug a grave for Shin. It was then that he saw Kimmi’s mother holding the lifeless body of her daughter. They agreed that these two best friends should be buried together holding hands. Next to Shin, his placed his treasured tricycle, the rest of which his dad had freed from the debris. Every evening for forty years Nobuno Tetsutani stood by the river and called his children’s names, “Shin! Michiko! Yoko!” like they were out there somewhere playing and it was time to come in for supper.  Finally the Tetsutanis decided to give their children a proper burial in a real cemetery. It was time. They dug and there was Kimi and Shin, just bones now, but still holding hands. Next to Shin was his tricycle, still looking like it wanted to be ridden four decades later. The next day they gave the tricycle to the museum so that maybe someone would remember innocent little girls and boys die in wars as well. “Fire and fury like the world has never seen…” Somewhere, if you listen, you can hear the voice of a little three-year-old boy somewhere squeal with excitement, “All my dreams have come true.” “And a sword will pierce your soul too.”