It was a little hard to stomach the feelings overwhelming the man as the folded flag was tenderly placed in his arms. There was no mourning wife, or next of kin, just Daniel LaRusso. Family had taken on an interesting meaning. For years of his youth he had ached for the idea of having a father again, and now he was watching the casket of the person who had filled that hole in his life lower into the earth. Time after time he would see this image of what a perfect family was as he watched television, or saw them walking down the street, and when it finally came it looked nothing like what he had hungered for for so long, but it was far more special to him.
Visions flooded his memory as he stood there. Memories of their precious time together.
One such memory was his wedding day. Amanda was naturally feeling all the panic that sets in on that most special of days, desiring nothing more than for everything to go perfectly. Daniel had done his best to ease her anxiety, but there’s only so much one can do when he’s not allowed to see the bride before the ceremony. So he sent his mother repeatedly with little notes of affirmation and love, but the reality was that he was panicking a bit himself. He worried about what kind of husband and father he would be, and whether he was actually up to the task. And in walked Mr. Miyagi, his diminutive figure clad in a wonderful traditional Okinawan kimono, appearing so much larger than life - as he always did. A weathered but strong hand gripped Daniel by back of his shoulder and brought him to Mr. Miyagi’s line of sight.
“Daniel-San. Miyagi know you are nervous for future,” a smile illuminated his features. “Life like one big maze. For most of it we try to run through as quick as can, avoiding dead ends but finding more instead. When man find right woman, he finally see the maze for the journey, and enjoys it rather than try to defeat it, whole picture become clear. Miyagi very proud of Daniel-San, and know he will raise beautiful family.”
Daniel treasured these moments, rarely provoked, where Mr. Miyagi would impart his wisdom. One would think they were regular, and to some extent they were, but often Mr. Miyagi simply lived, and every once in a while, when you least expected it, he would impart one of these gems.
“Miyagi know love, it has been his friend whole life.” And with that he pulled a picture from his breast pocket of a young Yukie Daniel had often seen a duplicate of it in Mr. Miyagi’s home.
Another such memory occurred years later.
After an extremely long labor, and several bruised hand bones, Samantha LaRusso was finally brought into the world. It was an exhaustive but beautiful experience. Danny couldn’t contain his excitement and love that he felt for this precious creature he held in his arms. Every part of him tried to radiate all the hope and comfort he could muster into that small frame. After some time, when it was prudent, in stepped Mr. Miyagi from the waiting room. Those same strong hands, wrinkled from years of training and work, gingerly brought the baby close to his chest. A small tear escaped from the corner of his eye. Mr. Miyagi was always a master of his emotions. Even on the rare occasion where he got intoxicated he held far more control than most men. But here the beauty of life had touched the soul of the master. Under his breath, almost so silently you couldn’t hear, he sang to her in Japanese. Danny could not understand, but something told him he was radiating the very same sentiments he was trying to only moments before.
The California Autumn air was fairly crisp for the climate. The dry Santa Ana winds cut through the clothing of everyone in attendance. A bugler played Taps with military precision, each note commemorating the life and service of the departed man, a beautiful tribute of lasting importance capped with the very flag Danny now gripped in his hands. F/A-18 jets proceeded to close the ceremony with a flyover. It was really a beautiful occasion, but the sounds of celebration echoed empty in Danny’s mind, as he pondered the loss of his best friend not for the first time.
He stayed long after, even watching the backhoe fill the grave with dirt. Amanda left him there with a tender hand placed on his shoulder. The two nearby children were clearly sad, but not quite able to comprehend the gravity of the situation. He knelt near the dark marble headstone, marking his final resting place. The cold night air began to nip at him, he decided it was finally time to move on, but not before he raised a few fingers to his lips, kissing them before returning them to the stone. He did not know how he would be able to go on without that treasured advice, but he was determined to live a life worthy of him, that Mr. Miyagi could be proud of.