(Nathaniel Grann/The Washington Post)

Noriko Bell

56, Washington, design-product development, art museum retail

My mother, sister and I were sorting through my grandmother’s belongings in my father’s family storehouse in northern Japan. In a small chest of drawers were my letters I had written to her when I was a 5-year-old, living in Tokyo, longing for my grandmother’s garden-ripe tomatoes and her gentle kindness.

Nestled among her belongings was this teapot. I decided to claim it and bring it back to the States. It sat on a shelf in remembrance of her.

One winter when I was struggling with a tenacious depression, I decided to wash the teapot. When I opened it, tea leaves were clinging to the sides, the residue, perhaps, of my grandmother’s last cup of tea. In that moment, I felt a surge of connection with her spirit. So poignant, those dried tea leaves in her teapot. I rinsed out the pot, and since then, I have brewed many cups of loose green in it. Each time thinking of my grandmother and how she helped awaken my heart one dead winter.

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