preserve those feelings in your heart

The relationship between Ayame and Yuki, the Snake and the Rat, has been strained for a long time. This is in part due their contrasting personalities and the large age gap, especially as Yuki was raised isolatedly because of his poor health. More importantly, Ayame willfully ignored the existence of his younger brother while growing up and turned a blind eye to the ill-treatment Yuki received from their parents and their environment. To ensure his own freedom, he denied Yuki any kind of support, going as far as brushing off Yuki’s hand the one time Yuki reached out to him for help.

As a result, there’s a rift between them by the time the story starts. Now an adult, Ayame regrets all the things he let pass by due to neglect: “It’s curious, the way we, once we become older, come to understand the things we couldn’t grasp as a child. […] These feelings are likely regret rather than reproach. Who knows, perhaps I only want to undo what I let pass out of ignorance back then. Perhaps that’s why we say that adults are selfish.”

When he takes Tohru aside to explain the motive behind his clumsy attempts at bridging the rift, Tohru remembers something Kyoko admitted to her:

My mother once said that it wasn’t until she became a mother that she understood the feelings of a parent. And in truth, it’s your own childhood that you must never forget and that you have to learn to understand. What it was like to make your first successful somersault, or what it was like to be scolded badly for the first time… If you just preserve those feelings from your childhood in your heart, you’ll have an easier time understanding the feelings of your children as an adult. Even if it isn’t guaranteed to succeed, it helps you move toward one another. Tohru, Volume 4

In Tohru’s memory, Kyoko said that it makes life more beautiful to think about things this way. The scene may be brief, but it is my assumption that Kyoko wasn’t just referring to all the fond times to remember from the past, but also the harsh times — the painful ones in particular, given what the reader learns about Kyoko much later on. So although you go through difficult stations in your life, those experiences can still turn into something valuable in retrospect. (Incidentally, just two chapters later, that is the message of Momiji’s story, which focuses on mothers.) In Kyoko’s case, her experiences are what allow her to connect with others and give them genuine advice later on.

After Tohru meets Ayame’s regrets with these uplifting words, he regains the confidence to keep moving toward Yuki, and the rift is gradually mended over the course of the story. In one memorable scene with Yuki later on, Ayame explains that he chose a profession that has him create things with his own hands in response to his self-doubts. Coming from Ayame, who is known as the picture of self-confidence, this past moment of insecurity helps Yuki understand and relate to his brother.

Keep the message on this page in mind as you read on, for Baton Pass is, in a way, entirely built around this subject.