Sadako grows weaker and weaker, and thinks more and more often about death. She wonders if death will hurt, or whether it will just be like falling asleep. She tries to push the thoughts from her mind, but she cannot—thoughts of death always creep in no matter what she does.
Sadako’s thoughts about death are shown to have become more complicated in this passage. Through much of the book she has feared death and seen it as something to try to escape or defeat. Now she continues to fear death, but also is beginning to wonder if death might be able to bring her a kind of freedom that her illness has held her back from for so long.
Toward the middle of October, Sadako begins having trouble keeping track of the days and nights. One day she awakes to find her mother crying at her bedside, and Sadako begins crying too, knowing that she has brought her mother a great deal of grief. Sadako tries to fold some more cranes, but her fingers are too weak and clumsy. Dr. Numata comes into the room and tells Sadako she needs to rest, and soon she falls asleep.
As Sadako’s strength falters and fails, she worries not just about the freedom her illness has taken from her, but the freedom it has taken from her family as well. Still, Sadako longs to push forward with her project, but now it seems as if her goal is to wish for her health back in order to ease the burden on her family more than the burden on her own body and mind.
When Sadako wakes up again, her family is gathered all around her. She smiles at them, and sees lights dancing behind her eyes. Sadako holds the golden crane as she feels life slipping away from her. She looks up at her flock hanging from the ceiling and smiles as they sway in the breeze coming through the open window. Sadako marvels at how beautiful and free her birds are, and then, with a final sigh, she passes away.
As Sadako examines the room around her and sees her beautiful cranes swaying freely in the breeze, she realizes that death will indeed be the freedom she has longed for rather than a fearsome thing. Knowing that she and her family will soon be unburdened, she realizes that the cranes have granted her wish of freedom from her illness after all.