2015: How Did We Get Here?

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

New Year’s Day came and went without much acknowledgement from me, but now we’re about a week in and it’s finally set in. 2015 is here.

2014 was a difficult year. I lost both Grandma Kaneshiro and Grandma Yoneda within a couple of months from each other.  Two of my closest friends each lost a parent. We had to put down our family dog, Kaile (random tidbit: my mom first named her Chibi).

I refuse, however, to let this past year be defined only by its losses. Instead, I’d like to take a moment to say thank you to my Grandmas for everything. I was fortunate to love them and be loved by them.

Wanting Memories

Monday, February 24th, 2014

I Miss You, Grandma.

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.

You used to rock me in the cradle of your arms,
You said you’d hold me till the pains of life were gone.
You said you’d comfort me in times like these and now I need you,
Now I need you, and you are gone.

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
Since you’ve gone and left me, there’s been so little beauty,
But I know I saw it clearly through your eyes.

Now the world outside is such a cold and bitter place,
Here inside I have few things that will console.
And when I try to hear your voice above the storms of life,
Then I remember all the things that I was told.

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.

I think on the things that made me feel so wonderful when I was young.
I think on the things that made me laugh, made me dance, made me sing.
I think on the things that made me grow into a being full of pride.
I think on these things, for they are true.

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I thought that you were gone, but now I know you’re with me,
You are the voice that whispers all I need to hear.

I know a please a thank you and a smile will take me far,
I know that I am you and you are me and we are one,
I know that who I am is numbered in each grain of sand,
I know that I’ve been blessed again, and over again.

I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,
to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.
-Keali’i Reichel

I had this quiet moment to myself between sentences where I felt my entire reality shift ever so slightly out of alignment. It’s Monday at 5am and I still can’t believe she’s gone.

I was going through some old pictures yesterday afternoon and I stumbled upon an old one of my grandparents (pictured above) and I thought about how happy they must be to finally be together now. My grandpa passed away when I was five and I know that my grandma spent the rest of her life missing him. The weight of my sadness lessens momentarily when I think about the fact that they’re together now and most likely watching television, he with a beer in hand and she with a glass of white wine (not watered down, which I’m sure she’s loving).

After college, I moved back to Hawaii and lived briefly at my grandma’s house. In my family, it is an unspoken fact that my grandpa’s spirit watches over her (which was an idea that simultaneously comforted and scared me, mostly because I’m afraid of ghosts). When I slept over, I often left on the bathroom light and my radio before going to bed. I sometimes, even as an adult, walked through the house at night and said aloud, “I love you Grandpa, but please, I can’t see you right now.”

One morning, I woke up and noticed both the radio and bathroom light (which could be seen clearly from the long hallway) were turned off. It wasn’t like the signal of the radio went dead, the knob had been completely turned off. As for the bathroom light, the only way to turn it off was a small knob on the light itself (which I had to climb onto the sink to reach).  It would be impossible for my grandma to turn off any of those things, but I asked her in the morning anyway while trying to hide the fact that I was freaked out.

She laughed when I told her. Without hesitation, she answered, “Must be Grandpa. He doesn’t like wasting electricity.”

I asked her later that day if she felt Grandpa in the house. “Yes,” she told me. “Sometimes when I’m alone, I feel him. It’s just us.”

My romanticism about true love doesn’t come from books or movies. It comes from my grandparents. It makes me believe that love transcends everything, even death.

I find myself waiting for my grandma in my dreams. I find myself waiting for her when I’m alone and my apartment is quiet. I know it’s selfish, but I don’t know how to exist in a world without her. I used to always talk about how time moved so quickly. I even wrote a piece about my last visit with my grandma and how it felt like there wasn’t enough time. First I couldn’t believe it was 2014,  next I couldn’t believe it was almost March. It felt like time had been slipping through my fingers. But now, time moves so slowly and everything hurts. I know that I will need to fly home soon and I know that it won’t be the same. The picturesque view from her  window will be colorless when I stand in her empty bedroom. The gaps in my schedule normally reserved for her will feel strange.

My grandma meant the world to me. I watched her make sushi when she worked at the delicatessen with her sisters. I made strawberry slushies for her and my aunties on hot summer days and danced around the kitchen pretending I was a tap dancer  to make them laugh (yeah, I was weird as a kid). She showed me how to set aside small portions of food for grandpa for his altar. She took my sister and I to the temple in Nu’uanu weekly and we watched her pray from the pews.  We watched large amounts of television together, including Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune,  Bonanza, and Everybody Loves Raymond.  On Sunday mornings, I came to the house with McDonald’s breakfast for her and my aunt. The last time I saw her, I put on the Mickey Mouse hat I bought her from Disneyland and did a little jig for her (I guess I’m still weird as an adult). I am fortunate for the abundance of memories we have together, but I would be lying if I said that was enough.