The 3 Things I’ve Learned In The Days After My Father’s Senseless And Violent Passing

My father, Anthony ‘Koko’ Chang, was senselessly murdered last Thursday morning. I want to pass along three lessons I’ve learned over the past week.

My Dad, Anthony ‘Koko’ Chang

A photo I took of dad on the Taipei MTR on a family trip in 2011. I wonder what he was thinking about at this exact moment.

3 Things I’ve Learned in the Week Following My Father’s Violent Passing


Random news article on my father’s tragic killing

The support, endless phone calls, text messages, e-mails, fb messages and comments, messages via linkedin, and rare face to faces have been so tremendously helpful. I found myself realizing at about 6 p.m. yesterday sitting where dad would often sit at the dining room table crying. But then it dawned on me that I was crying at the time, not out of sadness, but of simply being touched by everyone who has reached out (although I have obviously not responded to most).

Many people have prefaced their messages with something akin to ‘I know everyone has said this, but…’ … and I need you all to know that there truly is no ‘but’… yes… everyone HAS said that they’re sorry, that they offer condolences, that we are in their prayers, and that they’re there for us for anything. And until this tragedy, I would’ve prefaced my message to anyone who suffered a loss the same way. But I tell you, I won’t in the future. Because every single time (and it’s been literally over 200 times), that I’ve read words of condolences, shared suffering, and offers to help, I’m affected deeply (not just little by little), but greatly each and every time. There is no ‘but’; there is only ‘thanks’ from myself and my family.

I will, by the end of October, respond to literally everyone one of you. At this point though, I still am figuring out what life is for me, but I’d like to offer three quick lessons I’ve learned in the past 7 days:

1) Ninety-nine percent of what’s on your mind and happening in your life doesn’t fucking matter. Things on my mind in the 24 hours prior to my father’s senseless killing included: iPhone 5S colour choice, dissatisfaction with my relationship status, hoping I’ll be able to get 4 weeks off in Jan/Feb to go to Taiwan, does this new startup idea have legs, dad’s bruises from his vehicle accident (he was bruised, but otherwise perfectly fine), why my mom can’t just accept that I love smoking cigarettes, how will Suits season 3 end, how it’s possible that anyone has NOT watched Suits, the Eagles are definitely scooping the Superbowl come February, GSXr or CBR. None of it matters. All that matters is life itself existing, and sharing the mere existence of life with the people that give your life meaning. The only thing I can add or deviate to, is that my firm belief is that the answer to the age-old question of ‘What is the meaning of life?’ is this: While doing as much good as you possibly can, ensure that you leave this earth giving at least one other human being a better life than you had, and if they already have a better life than you have, that they have a better life than they would’ve had, had they not met you.

2) Share your dreams, plans, and aspirations with your loved ones, no matter how far-fetched or seemingly off-the-beaten-path they are. In seven days, I’ve learned of so many beautiful things that my father wanted to achieve that I never knew he even considered. I wish he had told me what they were, because I know that I could’ve helped him (relatively easily), to at least achieve milestones towards these plans, goals, and dreams. So to all of you who love me, here is one of my plans and dreams: I want to continually create videos of 4-10 minutes in length sharing the journey-stories of people who have dedicated their lives to one craft: Drawing? Woodworking? Singing? Hairstyling? Winemaking? Dancing? Cooking? Designing? Writing software? Yes.

3) Authenticity, and the congruence-in-your-actions that only true authenticity will guide you to do is what makes your reputation unquestioned. Until last week, my father’s habits were often a source of my shallow-minded embarrassment. He would speed walk regularly, clipping a pedometer on one side of his belt (which held up his pants way too high with a stained t-shirt tucked in), and a musical-practice metronome on the other side of his belt to help him keep his pace while speed walking. He’d enter his daily step-count religiously into an Excel spreadsheet that he started literally a decade ago. He’d cook vegetarian porridges in his underwear with various types of millet, grain, rice, vegetables, and ginger, and slurp it loudly as he watched video-tutorials on a type of Chinese healing body-pressure-point treatment, which he’d then go around the city offering treatments to the happiest of ‘patients’ for free (or for gas money) despite struggling (not desperately struggling, but borderlining on discomfort) to keep bill payments on time. Although he was never late or short on any bill payment, any discomfort from making sure of this was overglowed by the satisfaction of helping others, staying healthy and fit so he, in his own words, “wouldn’t be a [health] burden on us [his family]”, and both loving, and dedicating himself to his work as an interpreter, helping two parties understand each other. He was authentic to all of these, and the proof was his congruent actions in his beliefs. The greater proof is that in all the news stories, it has been literally impossible for anyone to call his character, kindness, and honesty into question. If I were to die tomorrow (knock on wood), a lot of people could call my character into question; people who once considered me a friend who I’d wronged gravely in the past, women who I’ve manipulated into the bedroom, and perfect strangers who I’ve hurt. One-hundred percent authenticity like my father ain’t easy, but when you look at the first thing I’ve learned in the past week (most of everything going on in your mind doesn’t matter), you, or rather, I, realize that although one-hundred percent authenticity ain’t easy, ninety-nine percent authenticity isn’t that hard.

I’d just like to say three more (much shorter) things:

First, the Toronto Police Service has been incredible. I have personal friends who are police officers in Toronto, and I’ve often (yes, to their faces), complained about cops the way that every non-cop complains: ‘Sittin’ in an idling squad car at Timmies [donut shop] again, are we?’… ‘Radar trap during rush hour? For real? Do some ‘real’ work.’… you know… stuff like that. Although I can’t say that those thoughts won’t cross my mind ever again, I can confidently say that the effort, quick action, and pride in their work has genuinely blown me away. So thank you to all the detectives, officers, administrators, and volunteers who have been involved in investigating my father’s killing, and to everyone in law enforcement in our city.

Second, please, please, please spend time with your father for me. If it’s impossible to have face to face time, at least a phone call. If you have a grudge with him, I can’t really comment because I don’t know the ‘why’, but re-read this point, and please reconsider. Chances are, your grudge falls under point number one (of most things not mattering).

Finally, to all my dear friends and those who have love for me, please re-read the first three paragraphs of this post… in fact, I’m just going to copy-paste it below because it’s that important that you see it again:

The support, endless phone calls, text messages, e-mails, fb messages and comments, messages via linkedin, and rare face to faces have been so tremendously helpful. I found myself realizing at about 6 p.m. yesterday sitting where dad would often sit at the dining room table crying. But then it dawned on me that I was crying at the time, not out of sadness, but of simply being touched by everyone who has reached out (although I have obviously not responded to most).

Many people have prefaced their messages with something akin to ‘I know everyone has said this, but…’ … and I need you all to know that there truly is no ‘but’… yes… everyone HAS said that they’re sorry, that they offer condolences, that we are in their prayers, and that they’re there for us for anything. And until this tragedy, I would’ve prefaced my message to anyone who suffered a loss the same way. But I tell you, I won’t in the future. Because every single time (and it’s been literally over 200 times), that I read words of condolences, shared suffering, and offers to help, I’m affected deeply (not just little by little), but greatly each and every time. There is no ‘but’; there is only ‘thanks’ from myself and my family.

I will, by the end of October, respond to literally everyone one of you. At this point though, I still am figuring out what life is for me now.

Sincere love and gratitude,

~Me.

Random news article on my father’s tragic killing

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