Many years ago, my father met a young man named Riki Yoneda on his first day of college. They had much in common - they were both Asian-Americans, they both were planning on rushing the same fraternity, they both loved golf, and both were among the first in their family lines to pursue higher education. They instantly became best friends and would go on to become roommates. My aunt would tell me that "If you saw Kingman (my father), you knew that Riki would not be too far away, and vice-versa." This remained true for years as Riki moved to wherever my father went, he would become the best man at his wedding, and eventually my godfather when I was born in 1999. 
My Uncle Riki was a great man. He carried himself with care and a child-like handsomeness. Always generous. Always the one you could rely on. And he would have been my best friend too. At least, that's what I've been told. Riki tragically took his own life when I was 1. I never truly knew him.
The crazy thing is that I didn't even know Riki took his own life. I thought he had died in a car accident. I was 17 when my parents finally told me. It was a lot to process. For the entirety of my life I had known this man as almost a mythical superman-esque figure. I was told that this guy would have bought me all the toys I had ever wanted, given me the best dating advice I had ever received, and been like a second father. Suddenly this memory became a dark cloud as I struggled to conceive the pain and suffering not only had he endured in his lifetime - but his brother - my father, as well.
At the same time I was struggling with my own life and underwent a deep depression. I discovered hope in a community college course in creative writing. With the help of a pencil I was finally able to release the thoughts and feelings that had tortured my mind and heart, and in one of those pieces I had written a poem - a letter to my godfather Riki Yoneda. I voiced everything in this poem - my anger, sadness, and misunderstanding and with it I began a healing process that saved me. I called it "My Pencil" and buried it in a USB flash drive.
Today, I find myself the same age Riki and my father were when they first became bonded for life at university as a college student myself. With a steadier older head on my shoulders, I thought it was time to dig up the drive and finish the work that I had started - now in film form. 
"My Pencil" is my tribute to a man that I never truly got to know but love dearly. I wear a tattoo with his name on my forearm as my way of taking him along with me throughout the life that I plan to live. Riki's story is a lesson to myself to stay strong during the dark times, to always be kind to others because you never know what battles they are fighting internally, and to live a life worth living for two. - ST​​​​​​​
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