The last issue of Naruto hasn't even been posted yet, and I'm already tearing up. This is the end of an era, a manga that has had a huge influence on who I am, and it comes at a time when everything else in my life is changing drastically. It feels like I'm losing close friends, characters that I have grown up alongside. Especially Naruto, I've lived his struggles with him, seeing my life experiences mirrored in his, and now I don't know what happens next. What will my life be like without this character to motivate me to connect with others, to inspire me to give of myself for the great good, to share in my pain and my struggles? I learned a lot about empathy and leadership from Naruto, and now that part of my life is going to be cut off.
I don't know if any of this will make any sense unless you've read the manga, but it is like reading the last page of Harry Potter. These characters and this story have been a staple of my life, and in a matter of hours they'll be gone...That's growing up, and I will be okay...but right now, it is really depressing. A big thank you to Kishimoto for teaching me to fight for my dreams, and to live a life of service to others. Thank you for a decade's worth of inspiration.