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Friday, March 04, 2005

Good Grief!

When my mother died, 12 years ago February 18th (yeah, February isn't a kind month for me), I fell apart. I completely isolated. It didn't help that she and I had only started to "know" each other, though she raised me. We weren't close when I was growing up. Here I was, a young mother with three kids, 2, 4, and 6. She reveled in her grandparenthood and she wore those babies like jewelry around her. It was our connection. To lose her at such a critical time was devastating to me. I almost vegetated with grief. My poor Charlie; he didn't know what to do and yet he was there for me. During the days, while he was at work, I would sit, rock, and cry. Some days I struggled to get out of bed, letting my sweet Averie be "the mama" and take care of her little sister and brother. I didn't leave the house for weeks. I'm not proud of that time. It was a heavy burden that I placed on tiny shoulders. I still honor her for that difficult time. She still smiles and says she'll make a great mother someday. Understatement.

Somewhere along the line, someone gave me a little book called "Good Grief". It was a book about coping with great loss and healthy grieving. This person was well-meaning, of course, but it just kinda pissed me off. Who said I even WANTED to cope? Jerk. I lost my mother. Couldn't they see that? Yeah, well they can kiss my sweet Hawaiian ass! So I threw the book aside and let it gather dust. Until the day my teething son toddled up to me with that dusty book in his mouth, slobbering baby drool all over a mushy corner. I reacted as if he were sucking on a bug, took it from him with a look of disgust on my face, and traded him a bisquit for the book. Then I fanned out the goobery pages and started to read. I learned I was very much allowed to grieve and that I didn't have to make excuses for it. I only had to let it be, get it out, and hold on to the promise that one day I would see beyond my pain and get to the joyful memories.

We've experienced loss since then, for me, nothing quite as devastating as losing my mom, but loss none the less. This one however, has again brought me to my knees with grief. Only this time has been so different. Yes, it's still new. Yes, there are still tears and very fresh pain. But this time, the love I've experienced has made this heavy, heavy pain so much easier to bear. I have been held up to the sun in loving, caring hands. I have had hearts so full of care and compassion surround my own broken heart, and those of my children and husband, with a protective fence of joy.

I once shared with Aaron the very reason that I call him "Ku'uipo". It's always been fitting of the way I feel about him. It applies and those of you that know him will agree. He won't mind if I share those thoughts with you, because right now, it's the one way I can get across how I feel in the midst of all of this love, not only from Aaron, but from Rick who stood in my place and orchestrated a "benefit concert" on my behalf and never so much as batted an eye at the task at hand (you are awesome Rocket Man), Toddy, my "sisters" Karen and Auburn Pisces, my sweet Waynie, Patrick, Susan, Jeffrey, Mark, Dan, Jennir, Stuart, Jase, Robert, JR, Dr. P, Greg, Riye, Brechi, Mark, Jeff, Homer, Archerr, Brian, Christian, Lee, Nicky, Matt, Ms. Ouizer, Catt, Joel, Blueher, Randy, Hanuman, Brenda, Peter, Paul, Groove, Scott, Angry Robbie, David Quinn, Celinda, Phil, Nancy, Jo-Jo, Jennifer, Lisa, Kathy...and so many more that I can't even begin to tell you. The heart that holds my world overflows with "life mele".....please read on.

I love the word "ku'uipo". I know that local islanders think that it's overused, but if you pull the word apart and translate it literally..."ku'u" = sweet or sweetness, as coming from nectar, and "ipo" = a gourd or implement, a container to fill, a dried gourd used for music or percussion in sacred chant. In Hawaii, the word "ku'uipo" is commonly used for "sweetheart", and thought of by a younger generation of Hawaiians as "archaic". No one really used it and you don't hear it much. You'll see it engraved on jewelry, but not for many other uses.

When I was growing up, Hawaiiana was a required course in school. One of my assignments in the 7th grade was to define vocabulary words and translate them. Ku'uipo was one of those words. I remember rolling my eyes and saying to my uncle how silly it was, and that everyone knows it means "sweetheart", and he smiled and replied, "oh my little ku'uipo, look deeper." So I did. I was surprised to find that the word "heart" wasn't even in the literal translation. My uncle explained to me that our hearts are more than just this muscle that pumps blood. The kama'aina (old timers) knew this. Our hearts were a vessel, a container to carry all of our being; our wellness, our wholeness, the essence of our personhood. Like a gourd, we can fill it with whatever we so choose, and then carry what we fill it with throughout our lives. One can choose to fill it with the music "mele" of life, and a nectar, like sweet water from the mountain falls.

From that point on in my life, I remember the literal translation, and I see this beautiful gourd filled with sweet nectar. It means so much more to me that way than just an endearment. You ARE a sweetheart Aaron. In many senses of the word. A wonderful benefit to me of your friendship, is that you fill my gourd with sweet nectar. I know that sounds so goofus (and maybe even a little obscene), but you know now what I mean, and how I mean it. Thank you for your place in my life. Ku'uipo.

I sent this to Aaron so long ago, but the sentiment never loses meaning. He understood completely what I meant and embraced me with his unending love. This is what you have all done for me. You have embraced me with your boundless affection, admiration, and compassion. You are moving the family and I to a place where we can experience that "Good Grief". For that, I will never be able to thank you. I can only offer my gratitude and love returned tenfold. I am humbled and honored and know I am loved. I thank you, my Charlie thanks you, my children thank you, and somewhere in the clovery clouds chasing butterflies, Shanny thanks you.

You are my ohana (family).


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