The Day They Burned Their House Down

I talk a lot about Fullmetal Alchemist, don’t I? I’ve gone on record and said it’s probably one of my favorite series and it has some of my favorite characters of all time within it. I think the major reason it means so much to be is because of when this series hit for me. Like a comic book main male, I have to say again: this series hit me right after my father passed away. When FMA started its run, my dad’s death was a very recent memory. So having a main cast that all dealt with the loss of a parent and what it meant to be human in a world of loss was important to me, formative for me. I suddenly had someone on TV that understood my grief. I didn’t grieve in the way that all the books I got from my family and teachers did. I skipped sadness and moved straight to cynicism and trying to find logic to replace the hole in my heart. As far as series that are important to me, you can look to FMA as one of the most. Because I’ll say it again for those in the back, you don’t need a character to look like you to feel represented.

This post is coming out during a special time of the year for me (I’m pretty good about scheduling things out far in advance. Don’t judge me.). October 1st is my Mom’s birthday and she would have been 58. October 11th is my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 54 today.  My Dad was a complicated man and I’ve talked about my Father, his legacy and his memory plenty of times. I don’t talk about my Mother as much maybe because that grief is still such a recent memory for me. I don’t like talking about it because that’s a wound that hasn’t closed up all the way yet.

October really is a strange month for me.

My family (both sides,really, if I have to think about it) usually looks to me and then checks on me on these days in particular. And in the past, these days have been difficult. My friends knew to take special care of me and to get me out of the house on these days so I could keep my mind off the negative thoughts that tend to creep in on significant dates surrounding those you’ve lost. My family wants to look to me as some effigy to my parent’s memory.

But really, after all of these years: I’d love to reclaim these days.

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October 3rd for FMA fans is a very important day. It’s the day Edward and his brother Alphonse burned their house down. They made this choice after committing the ultimate sin and paying the price as a knee-jerk reaction to the loss of their beloved mother. They will for the rest of their foreseeable days carry the weight of their sin and the weight of the grief that clouds their hearts. They had lost their beloved mother and their father as far as they were concerned was gone forever. They had no reason to stay in their family home that had been so corrupted by sin and death, so they burned it down. But they didn’t just turn away from their past and ignore it, no. Edward upon receiving the pocket watch that marks him as a State Alchemist scratches the date into his watch.

Don’t forget 3 Oct. 11

It’s probably one of the most important dates in the series and Edward carries it with him everywhere he goes.

I also carry that date with me because like the good State Alchemist that I am, I also have my pocket watch. Travis gave me that watch when we took over our college’s anime club. And even though I had cosplayed as Mustang and as Edward before, I never had my own watch. It was a great irony that Travis gave me the watch that I am now so proud of. In our friend group I was always Col. Mustang, the charismatic leader and he was my loyal Hughes. He was there to keep me grounded and help me move up the ranks and make our club the best we could.

I’m a fully functioning adult and I still wear my pocket watch on occasion (and I still get plenty of compliments on it). And that weight in my pocket, that date in my pocket is a reminder of the date that means so much to an anime I love and so much to my family and my actual family.

So today after 15 years since my father passed and just a little over 5 years since mother joined him; I want to reclaim 10-1, 10-11 and hell, the entire month of October while I’m at it. My family still looks to me a bit to do something grand. To post something inspirational. To show that I still remember. To show that I’ll never forget. To show that I’m doing okay. And trust me, with no sense of irony I can proudly say that I’m fine. I will be fine. And even on the days I’m not, I have more than enough coping skills and loving support to quickly pull myself back up after a rough day.

Today, I burn down the emotional house. And what a perfect day to do so? It just so happens that days after the Elrics burned their house down and the dates of my parent’s birthdays coincide.

If I post something that honors my parents, fantastic and I have posted for them a few times. If I don’t, also fine and despite my blog postings there have been years that I choose not to memorialize the day. A big step in the grieving process is just moving on and I think after so many years, I’m ready to treat these days like they are any other day. The weight will always be with me. I will never forget this day. But I’d also like to move on and try and forge my own path. That’s what my Dad would have wanted and I can hope that it’s what my Mom would have wanted, as well. 

Happy Fullmetal Alchemist Day, to my fellow otakus. Remember to keep moving forward and never let your past dictate who you are.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I didn’t forget.

And Happy Birthday, Dad. I’m a little bit early but now you know that I didn’t forget you, either.