Letter from Yuji Hakuno
November 25, 2002
Dear Segal Family,
Hello. It was not until earlier this year that I learned of Anton's passing. I didn't know about any of the details nor really how to deal with it until one day, I searched for his name on the internet. That was when I found the site you had set up for him. It is nicely done, and certainly worthy of Anton himself. I have visited it many times. And if I may, I would also like to contribute a few words of reflection.
Before I dive into my memories though, please accept my apologies for being out of touch for so long, and my extremely belated sympathy for the loss of your son, your brother, and my friend Anton. I've thought about you a lot, but as you may have noticed, I've never been so good about correspondence. These past few years, I'm sure, have been a difficult time of healing from such pain as I cannot imagine - I hope you will not find my writing this four years late to be inappropriate, nor unnecessarily prodding at the wounds that finally begin to close. Rather, please let this be an example of the fact that long after his departure, Anton is still very fondly remembered by those of us who were fortunate enough to have had our lives touched by his.
Anton really was a great guy. What more can be said? Obviously, a lot (but I'll keep it short)...
Strangely enough, I don't actually remember meeting Anton the first time. I remember not knowing him - then one day he was my best friend. It was as though he'd been there all along. Naturally loving and lovable, he just found his way into the center of people's lives without trying.
Around the end of elementary school when I began learning martial arts at Kim Soo, I saw him about every other day. Because you and my parents took turns driving us there and back, I had the unique privilege of riding with and being entertained by him before and after class. By the time I began, he was already at instructor level, with the right to wear that coveted black uniform. And he was only 11.
As he was my elder by just under a year, I came to regard Anton as the slightly older brother whom I strove to emulate. Whenever I was at your house, I followed him around doing pretty much whatever he did, like cursing at the video game console and even eating celery sticks which I NEVER ate normally, dumping on progressively more salt with every bite. It turns out that even after years of not keeping up with him, I'm still imitating him. Not having any idea what an avid diver he had become, I as well have recently taken up diving. Some day I plan to dive his Red Sea.
During my "dark years" in junior high, he was always there for me, despite never attending the same school. Unlike Anton, I had only a handful of friends back then. I was lucky he was one of them. He was my "fishing" buddy (actually we mostly went unsuccessfully after the turtles at Ethan's Glen) and shooting pardner - just pellet guns, but hell, we were in Texas after all. He let me play pool on your nice new table and Defender on his TRS80. How much darker those years would have been without him!
Most people seem to have an intensely difficult time with the pupal stage, those awkward teenage years, but he never appeared to go through such a spitefully hypersensitive period. While many of his peers, myself included, occupied our time hating our lives and our families and our world, I never heard him speak ill of his. He had the same love and respect for you and others around him that he'd always had and would never lose.
I don't remember where I was or what I was doing the last time I spoke with him, but he was at Harvard studying Japanese, bitching about "the fucking kanji!" I truly wish I had stayed in better contact. I'd looked forward to seeing him again one day, and having many more good times with him. I've now caught up with what he had been up to after we lost touch, thanks to all of you. Thank you for sharing your own memories of Anton. I too am very happy to have known him.
Anton, I miss you bro, but you live on in us all. ____________________
Well, I hope you are all doing okay. If you are ever in NYC, please let me know. My current contact information is: