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I watched the Perseids in his shoes
...written on 08.15.09, @ 8:24 p.m.

Min's funeral was today. A very emotional event, of course. Naoko, his ex-wife, was such a dear and included me in things meant for family members. She was very solicitous and attentive of my needs. She also gave me a bag of photo albums that Min had of our many trips together.

In one of those albums was a picture that so illustrates the kindness and caring that Min freely exhibited towards me. It was one of those surprise trips, where he'd pop over and say, "Let's go drink something" and we'd wind up drinking it two hours away. Such was the case this day, and since I thought we were staying close, I didn't bring my camera and put on some new brown shoes (funny, I always buy black) that had yet to be tested.

We ended up going to Nara, over two hours away. In this series of pictures, we're wearing jackets and scarves, so I imagine it was in the fall. We hit the sights, walking from here to there and posing along the way in front of temples, shrines, on bridges, in a park, with a deer nuzzling my pocket, with our heads close together, and then one, near the end of the day, where I'm posing in front of Horyuji (Flourishing Law Temple), the oldest wooden structure in Japan and where Buddhism is said to have first flourished.

In this particular picture, I'm squinting in the sun, arms thrust up almost signaling 3:00pm on a clock, legs more than shoulder width apart and feet clad in Min's red tennis shoes. It made me remember that day when my feet started to hurt unbearably, and without hesitation, Min took off his shoes, gave them to me to wear and then put on mine! What a guy!

On Wednesday, when I met with Naoko, Min's brother, Hide, and Hide's wife, Mako, they took me to a coffee shop to talk about Min's condition and my request to see him. They said they would ask Min's mother if it would be ok for me to visit. When they took me back home, I was hugging Mako and Naoko goodbye, while Hide was rustling around in the back of Minís small paint van. He pulled the trunk down and swung around to me and offered me Minís red sneakers. I was shocked and almost didn't take them, but then I thought how much it may mean for Hide to give me those shoes (and for me to have them), so I thanked him and took them. When I got them up to my apt I saw that there were many strands of Minís hair in the bottom of the shoes. I put them in the genkan so it would always appear that Min was paying me a visit. That night I put on Min's shoes and went up to the roof to watch for falling stars. I didn't see any for the hour that I was there and just as I was about to leave I thought to myself, 'Just one. Just one for Min.' And over my shoulder I caught a glimpse of a shooting star.

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