Though this past week has been one of the most exciting and amazing, I came home yesterday to find news of the death of my friend, Shingo. Shingo was born in Japan in 1980. He came to this country as a young university student, quiet, rail thin and somewhat shy because of his language skills. Shingo understood English quite well but spoke little while letting his great facial expressions communicate more.

He married a very gifted friend who was quite extroverted, a counter to Shingo’s quite nature. Her Japanese was as excellent as Shingo’s English. It was often a treat to hear them argue in Japanese, spirited discussions between husband and wife (a natural bright redhead) both immensely intelligent and thoughtful.

When I needed help moving, Shingo was right there to carry my hundreds of books and papers in the heat. At holiday dinners and celebrations, Shingo was everywhere doing hundreds of things for anyone who needed help, smiling and joyful but quiet. He was raising three amazing children who were definitely thriving with his love, guidance and gentle nature. The way he held his young son or bent down to speak with one of his daughter’s showed a father who deeply loved his family.

Shingo’s death, unspeakably unexpected, serves to remind me that appreciation of one’s friends is vitally important. While Shingo was not outgoing and chatty, he was introspective, a loving father/husband, a thoughtful and supportive friend, and dedicated to his family and adopted country of the United States. I am driving a car that he lovingly detailed and sold to me as he was moving back to Japan with his new wife. Today, I am even more proud that I own that car and will be reminded of Shingo when I drive it (1997 Toyota).

Shingo’s death and life reminds me of how fleeting our moments of life can be. I would never have conceived of a world without Shingo, quiet and deeply thoughtful, would not be watching his spirited daughters graduate from college or his son play little league baseball/soccer because he doted on all of them more than any father should have. Perhaps he knew that his time with them might be shorter but truly, Shingo’s loss is as much of a reminder for me that all of my friends have enriched my life in a million small ways by just being present.


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