April 1st: The Passport

Today marks the eighth anniversary of my father’s passing and each year it gets easier. Strangely, this year is probably the best I’ve been emotionally (even with everything going to shit). Here’s something I wrote earlier this year that I thought I would share.

Last summer I found my father’s passport when I was doing some cleaning. It was blank because he never got the chance to use it and I got a little upset because I remembered how big a deal it was for him to get one in the first place.

When I needed to apply for my passport, he was the one who took me to the post office. After I was done and we were getting ready to leave he stopped and decided to apply for one as well. My father had never had a passport, never left the country, and (as far as I know) had never been on a plan in his 58 years of life. Yet, here he was getting one like it was nothing after seeing me get mine. That was a big deal and I felt glad that I could be the person to help him make that first step.

Honestly, my father was the person who put Japan in my head to begin with. He told me about the history and culture of the country. When he finally decided to teach me karate, he would tell me stories about martial artists like Choki Motobu (one of his favorites). While it felt like he really wanted to go to Japan, it just never seemed to happen. As a kid, that made me want to go to Japan because then I could help him get to Japan.

Seeing him get his passport was a huge step in the right direction and getting him to Japan felt more achievable. I think that all he needed was someone to show him how and I was determined to be that person.

When I got to Japan, it wasn’t easy. There some good times, but there were also definitely times when I felt low. I used to describe it as being simultaneously the safest and loneliest I have ever felt. But I stuck it out because I didn’t have any other options. Another reason was that I told myself that all of these temporary things would seem insignificant compared to getting my Dad to Japan. If I helped him then all of the isolation, depression, frustration, etc. would be worth it.

Then he died.

It just felt like a slap in the face for both of us. He had gone through so much leading up to that point and I just wanted to give him a win. It felt like he was on the verge of things getting better. I remember thinking, “Man, he can’t even have this? It’s so unfair.”

And for some years afterwards, there was a little bit of bitterness about it and there were certain moments that stuck with me more than they would’ve if he’d actually made it to Japan. Things I let slide that in hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have. There were times when I asked myself what the point of sticking it out those two years was and if it was worth it. And even as I looked at the passport, I didn’t have a definite answer.

I don’t think I’ll ever be one hundred percent okay, but I’ve gotten much better. I’ve come to realize that the two main things I did (going to Japan and making comics) were inspired by my dad. They were both things he talked about doing but never did and it made me want to achieve those dreams for him. Not just to do them, but to show him that they could be done. Though he never got to do those things, I think he knew that I was just trying show him how.

I don’t need to question if he loved me, I don’t need to question if he was proud of me. I know those things for a fact. And I think that now he’d want to me work on making a path for myself.

Thanks for everything, Dad. You deserved so much more than you got, but you did the best with what you had and gave so much more than you were given. Love you, dude.

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