We started off 2017 losing the matriarch from my boyfriend’s family. Aunty Laka passed away unexpectedly. I never met her in person and I am just getting to know most of his cousins and such but I know my boyfriend. He is big and tough with a heart of gold. The amount of love he has to share with the world is rooted in his up-bringing and family background. He’s shared stories of family get-togethers over the years with me. They sound like the typical Islander gatherings: lots of food and laughter and fun. And razzing. And singing. And dancing. And more laughter and food.
The loss hit him really hard. For various reasons over the past twenty years or so, he hasn’t spent much time with this side of his family. And memories of losing his parents flooded his thoughts. We had just gotten back from being in North Carolina for a week-long karate tournament (Super Grands), took a deep breath to prepare to host houseguests over the first weekend of 2017. Hearing the news that Aunty Laka had passed away took the little wind out of our sails that we had inhaled.
Before Aunty Laka’s funeral, Uncle Joe and his family came to town from Seattle to hold a memorial to recognize the two-year anniversary of Aunty Honey-Girl passing away. This memorial brought together our martial arts ‘ohana and it was a reunion of sorts. I saw people I hadn’t seen in years. And interestingly enough, Uncle Joe is related to my kumu hula! They were able to spend a couple of hours together over the weekend and catch up on life. That surprise was a nice balance to all the sorrow surrounding us in 2017.
But before we could pause to let the sorrow pass, I was informed that one of my friends, Valerie, had passed away. I met Val right before she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Val was energetic, positive, full of love, and a fighter until the end. Valerie was diagnosed with breast cancer, beat it and was re-diagnosed with stage four spinal cancer. Valerie passed away at the young age of 42. The love that she and Paula shared was inspirational. Val will be incredibly missed by all whose lives she has touched. God bless your soul, Val. I am sending Aloha and light to you and Paula and Aunty Laka and Aunty Honey-girl.
I’m tired of all the pain and sorrow in 2017.
“Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day, unseen, unheard, but always near, still loved, still missed and very dear.”