noah blair bastian

noah blair bastian, originally uploaded by renfield.

Born June 16th at 6:50 am in the Los
Alamitos Medical Center - at birth he weighed 8 pounds 8.5 ounces and was 21
inches long.

goodbye bill

The understatement of the century is to say that it has been a tough week.
In order to deal with this, I will resort to the age old technique of denial through humor. What else can you do but laugh when you see your friend die not once, but twice?
We trained at honbu on Friday afternoon before heading down to Ajiro, a resort town on the coast of Shizuoka Prefecture.
Early Saturday morning I was woken up and told that Bill had passed out in the bath. When I ran downstairs I saw Bill lying on his side. His head was purple, his heart stopped, no pulse, no breathing. I immediately started CPR, and within seconds the paramedics arrived and took over. They got his started again and I rode with him in the ambulance. His heart kept starting and stopping on the ride to the hospital. After about an hour, they got him stabilized and into an intensive care room. The doctor said that his family should come to Japan immediately, so that call went to his wife. I stayed with him all day until 8pm. He was convulsing in epileptic seizures and his heart rate was erratic, though the ventilator kept his breathing regular and the six IVs of drugs and fluids kept him going.
Went back to the hotel and told everyone what I was told: he was stabilized but not out of danger yet.
On Sunday I went back and everyone else went to the tournament. He looked much better; color was good, heart and breathing stable, blood pressure normal, no more seizures. After the tournament everyone came by to see him and we all felt better, hoping the brain damage after he wakes up would be minimal.
Sue and Tony arrived Sunday night and we went back to see Bill on Monday morning.
He had just had another brain scan, and Dr. Takanashi gave the assessment: it was not, as originally believed, an epileptic seizure. He had a brain infarction in the left occipital lobe, which caused the seizures. His heart was stopped for at least ten minutes total, causing massive brain damage due to lack of oxygen to the brain. Most likely caused by a blood clot in the brain.
His breathing weakened steadily, and within the hour I saw him die for the second time, his wife and friends by his side.
According to his and his family's wishes, I arranged to have him cremated. The hospital asked for permission to do an autopsy to find out the specific cause of death, and so I came back on Tuesday morning to sign the permission slip and do the paperwork to transfer the body.
According to Japanese law, a doctor's certificate of death is necessary to transport a dead body, and a governmental death certificate is required for cremation. To get a death certificate at the City Hall, proof of next of kin is required. But since both the wife and deceased are not Japanese, the director of the hospital signed as the family representative. Also, in order to verify the deceased name and birthday, a copy of his passport was required. The hospital had a copy on file, but according to the Personal Information Protection Law, I was not entitled to a copy since I was not next of kin. I swear at that point I was on the verge of a breakdown, with my head in my hands. I think the hospital figured it out because they took one look at me and decided to just give me a copy of the passport.
Then, when I tried to get another copy of the death certificate for the US Embassy at City Hall, I could not because I was not immediate family. The wife could not either, since again they could not "prove" that she was next of kin. Ah, but the hospital director could get a copy, since he filed the original paperwork. So the wife of the funeral director went down the street to get a name stamp in the name of the hospital director, which was used to forge the hospital director's name on the death certificate request. This was, by the way, suggested by the woman who worked at City Hall as the best method of procuring a copy of the death certificate.
Paperwork completed, I went back to Tokyo and we took Sue and all to Honbu Dojo to see Niina-gosoke. After some group hugs we went out for a feast of meat, and that certainly helped lift everyone's spirits for a bit.
On Wednesday, Sue and The Verduginator got on the bus to the airport and Tony and I went to the Embassy to get the US paperwork. Otokita-san at the embassy was an absolute angel, and since I had done as she suggested and faxed in most of the paperwork, she was able to finish up everything else fairly quickly. She gave us several copies of English death certificates that Sue would need for various things, and some paperwork that Tony could use to take the remains back to the US.
On Thursday Tony and I went back to Atami and picked up Bill.
It was a cold, rainy day.
Bill is now a pile of ash and bones in a simple pottery jar with a lid. We wrapped him in a Senpokan tenugui.
On Friday Tony took Bill back to LA to be with his family.

Dying in a country in which your friends and family don't speak the language is complicated. I am glad that I could be useful and do something helpful for Bill and everyone else.
Death is neither glorious nor romantic.
Death is horribly ugly and miserably depressing.
Death is sticky and smelly and a dead arm hanging off the side of the bed is cold and heavy.
And I will never, ever forget that color I watched him turn. Twice. Death is not black, it is sickly purple.

His room was overlooking the ocean and when he died the sky was blue and the haze was far, making the mountains float. The sound of the ocean waved through the room as slowly as his breath. His heart beat and his lungs filled with salt air for the last time. And the ocean waves rumbled on.

oni tony

oni tony, originally uploaded by renfield.

izuyama shrine

izuyama shrine, originally uploaded by renfield.

atami morning

atami morning, originally uploaded by renfield.

bill arno

William Joseph Arno, aka Froat, 48 years old, loving husband and father. God speed, bless your soul, and we'll see ya in the next life.