"It is every foreign correspondent's nightmare: a family emergency when you are half a world away," New York Times Tokyo bureau chief Motoko Rich begins. "During the pandemic, many people have been unable to make it to the bedside of their dying relatives. I was one of the lucky ones." She describes receiving news of her 76-year-old father's congestive heart failure half a world away. Swiftly calculating if she would be able to leave her own family to be by her parents' side before her father's passing, she was granted a humanitarian exemption from Japan's travel ban. She details the surreal experience of the international flight with a row to herself, self-isolating in a temporary rental next door to her parents, staying masked and at a social distance at her father's bedside as he passed away, and small things like finding fabric scraps from her childhood in the laundry basket -- her mother's preparing them to sew masks for a local health care center.

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