When I arrived in Japan amidst a typhoon on May 20th, 2004, I was met at the airport by three people. Two of them had an obligation to be there; one chose to be there. On a day that most people would choose to stay home, he came out to greet me and help me. That man was Mr. Matsuda. He was a very strong man, full of energy, regardless of having battled liver cancer.
He had a couple relapses over the years and I would visit him in the hospital. I would try to make him laugh and he would take me around to try and set me up with the nurses. Over the past year and a half, his visits to the doctor had gotten more frequent. I could tell they were taking a toll on him, but he always kept a brave face and tried to keep the others around him settled.
Tonight I got a call from a mutual friend. I asked if they were well, and immediately, from the tone of their voice, I knew the reason for the call. Matsuda-san passed away last night at the hospital. My plans for the weekend have been canceled so I can attend ceremonies tomorrow and Sunday.
I am doing fine now, but I’m sure when I see his wife’s face I will want to cry. We have lost someone special.