Disclaimer- I don't own Kenshin. If I did, you'd bet the last episodes would make more sense.
I should be crying... that's what some people must be thinking. They're thinking I should shed a tear that I lost both my parents on the same day, at the same time. They think I'm being strong, trying to be like my father.
They couldn't be more wrong.
I love my mother, that much is true. I loved her and cared for her. And yes, I am fighting tears for her.
I did not love my father.
Yes, I am sure there were things to love about him. He was a kind man, they say. A brave man. A warrior. A man who fought for what he believed in and what he loved.
I didn't know that man. That man died before my time.
I knew a stranger, a family friend who visited on rare occasions, a man who happened to have a hand in my birth. I knew a man who watched and played with me on a few days, before leaving again with tears and kisses and hugs and promises. Who told me stories of places I'd never see, places that took him far and wide.
A man who made mother cry on lonely nights when other families had their fathers to laugh and play games with and cook and kiss their mothers and sons good night. A man who never touched a blade, never swung his sword to defend others, a sickly man who was soft-spoken and always tired. I remember only one time when he swung a sword, when he passed the sword to Yahiko, a.
That's the man that is my father.
I don't pretend to understand my father, I don't pretend to know why he did what he did, why he lived the way he lived. I didn't know him that well... I didn't know him at all, in fact.
Not the way everyone else in my life knew him.
I can see Sanosuke, fighting tears that he will never admit to, Megumi weeping in a way that I have never seen the confident aunt figure cry. I see Yahiko, my pseudo-brother/uncle holding Tsubame as she cries and sniffles while he fights his own inner battles. They are all here, all mourning these two lives, mourning my parents. Even Hiko is here, that massive, impossibly young-looking master of the Hiten Mitsurugi Style, not at all crying, looking just as collected as ever. But I can tell there is pain behind those eyes as he whispers softly, "Stupid student."
They knew him, and he knew them. They loved my father, and he loved them.
My father did not know me, I did not know him. I did not love him, I do not know if he loved me. I know he cared for me... I do not think he knew me enough to love me.
I know that I did not love my father. I even suspect that I resent him... not to the point of hating him, of course, but I resented him.
I resented him for hurting mother. I resented him for not being there. I resented him for not being around to teach me things... to teach me the Hiten Mitsurugi style that he was lauded for, to teach me the things that all fathers teach their sons, to laugh with me as I was taught to cook, to read, to write. I resent him for all the things that could have, might have, should have been. And most of all... I resented him for transferring his disease to mother. That damned disease that took her life, and his.
I loved mother... but her devotion to father... irritated me, I suppose. It was something that drove a silent wedge between us. I resent my father for that too.
No, I didn't hate him. But I was close. I was close to hating this man, and had it not been for how loving he was to mother when he was there, I think I would hate him.
I had no intention of seeing him ever again, nor mother. But Yahiko forced me to return... and accept something I never once desired. He forced me... nay, he challenged me to take up a burden that I hadn't ever wanted, taught me a lesson I had never known.
Gripping the sword at my side... the reverse-blade sword... the sword of my father. It is no mere family heirloom, I knew that from a young age, from the vaunted looks it was given by Yahiko when he held it. I took the sword... Yahiko beat me with this seemingly useless sword, beat me and the Hiten Mitsurugi style with mother's style and father's sword. I did not know why he beat me... but I do now.
He told me this blade holds the power of my father... and now it holds Yahiko's power too. I can feel that power, felt it the moment I first grasped that blade, holding my damaged shoulder, on my knees. I can feel something intangible... something incredible... as if I was standing in the presence of a great and ancient dragon. And yet I feel a strange sense of responsibility with this sword... the responsibility for others... or perhaps a better word is compassion.
Perhaps this is how my father wanted to teach me... perhaps this is his lesson, a teaching from father to son. This blade... maybe this is supposed to teach me something, to make me learn something about my father.
Is this what Yahiko felt... all those years ago, when he first started holding the blade of the Rurouni that was once a Hitokiri? Did he feel the knowledge, the power, the responsibility of this sword? When my father handed Yahiko the sword... is this why he was so compassionate towards others?
Was he hoping to shape me into being like my father? Was he hoping that I would become the next Kenshin, the next protector of the weak and the innocent and the oppressed?
I am not my father.
I am no tortured soul that seeks redemption.
I am not a Rurouni.
I am not Kenshin Himura.
If Yahiko's goal was to make me take my father's place... he has failed.
But that was not his goal, I know. His goal was to make me realize what really mattered, that true strength came from compassion, not from power. He did that. He succeeded.
I would have loved to meet the man my father was before, I think. I would have enjoyed spending time, knowing that I was the son of a man who had true strength. Instead I was left with my father... a man who was sickly and weakened. A man who could no more fight than a cripple... who was almost an invalid himself. A man without strength.
But the sword in my hand says otherwise. That sword that screams of untapped, undreamed, awesome, compassionate power. Strength such as this does not fade away. It perseveres, toughens, grows stronger with age.
But didn't he have true strength? Didn't he draw from that strength of love and courage and compassion? Wasn't that why he never stayed long with me and mother?
Does the love that bound him to help others, the strength to persevere to see his beloved one more time before death, is that my father's strength? Did that strength that swung his sword grow with time, leading him to help others without the aid of this mighty weapon? Was that the true Kenshin Himura, the Rurouni that vaunted man respected by all who knew him, loved by those closest to him? Was that my father all along?
Is this what Yahiko really wanted me to know, what mother wanted me to know when she told me about my father in that loving voice of hers that I never understood, that I believed wasted on a man who was barely more than a phantom? Is this true strength?
Maybe my father did have strength... and maybe, just maybe, I don't resent him as much anymore.
AN: Thanks for reading, and thoughts on how this was are always welcome.