Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Fosi and Delia: "Can I Kiss You?"

Three years later. . . a continuation of the short story I shared on our 22nd anniversary.  Today marks our 25th wedding anniversary and we spent time going down memory lane. What better time to commit some of those memories to writing? As articulated previously, the following memories are based on true events but are subject to slightly romanticized hindsight.

I awoke the next morning and lay in bed thinking about what had transpired the evening before. I mentally kicked myself. What was wrong with me? What kind of girl turns down a perfectly wonderful offer to enter into a committed relationship with a man that she not only cared about and pined after for years, but that was fresh off a mission, sweet, and oh so good looking.  He'd be snapped up soon enough, that was a surety, especially when he started school down at BYU-Hawaii in the next few weeks.  I mean, any Mormon campus was a veritable hunting ground for eternal companionship, full of eligible RMs (returned missionaries) and girls who longed to enter into wedded bliss before they turned 20. And at BYU-Hawaii, the Polynesian boys had their pick of mainland girls, eager to date a brown-skinned islander and make beautiful hapa babies.  They'd just LOVE Fosi, of that I was sure. And yet I couldn't give my heart when it wasn't ready to be given. Fosi deserved more than that, he was worth much more than what I could currently offer him.

And yet. . .just a few weeks before I didn't hesitate to propose my own little request to him on a moonlit beach at Punalu'u.  Fosi had agreed to accompany me to BYUH on a Sunday evening while I dropped off my older brother and sister at the dorms after a weekend visit home. On our way back to town, I looked out over the dark ocean and the dancing path created by the light of the full moon. My heart was heavy and my mind was preoccupied with recent events.

"Delia, did you hear what I said?", Fosi asked from the passenger seat next to me.

"Sorry, my mind was somewhere else," I confessed.

"Are you thinking about him?". Was I that transparent?

I was being poor company, that much was clear. And suddenly, I needed to get out of the car. I made a quick left turn and parked under a coconut tree at Punalu'u Beach Park.  The ocean was only about 20 steps away and I asked Fosi if he wouldn't mind kicking it with me for a little bit on the beach. He obliged and we settled down on the sand. We talked, about his mission, what he planned to study at school, the 'old' days hanging out with the crew before his mission and it was so nice to have my friend back.

"You didn't write very much," Fosi said. It wasn't an accusation, but I could sense just a tinge of disappointment. "But the letters I did get meant a lot to me."

Ouch. "I'm sorry, I don't know where my head's been these last couple of years."

"I know, you wrote me about him." He looked over at me and gave a little smile and leaned back on his elbows.

I wasn't ready to talk about it and at the same time I was dying to talk about it with him, to share everything, the heartbreak, the confusion, and worst of all, the feeling that I'd never be myself again. Like somehow I was broken. And so, I did. I mean, this was Fosi.  We talked for what seemed like forever and as the night wore on, the wind off the ocean picked up and I wrapped my arms around myself, partially to fend off the chilly sea breeze and partially to hold myself together as I talked about things that made my insides ache.

"You're cold. I don't have a sweater. Would you mind if I did that for you?", he asked.

Ummm. . .was he asking what I thought he was asking? But before I could press for an answer, Fosi got up, positioned himself behind me, sat and wrapped his arms around me. I think I lost consciousness for just a few moments. When I came to, I remember feeling warm, safe and comfortable, like sitting there in his arms was something that happened every day. It felt like. . .home.

No words were said for a few minutes, we just sat there on that windy beach under a big white moon.  I leaned back against him and I heard myself say, "Can I kiss you?".

Fosi sat upright, taken off guard. "Uh, what was that?".

"I really want to kiss you. You've been so wonderful and I just want to kiss you. Nothing more."
Inside I was screaming, "What are you doing?!? Are you sure you want this? You'll be leading him on. . .don't do this, Delia!".  But the damage had been done. I closed my eyes and awaited his response. Thank goodness he couldn't see my face. But even though I couldn't see his expression, I could just feel him blushing. He dropped his arms. Oh boy, this could go really wrong.

"Um, I don't think we should be doing this, Delia. I mean, you're not ready and it's late and we should get home."

He was nervous! I had to admit that I found his hesitancy even more attractive and I turned to face him. We stared into each other's eyes for what seemed like the longest three seconds ever and I said,

"Fosi, I'm sorry but I'm going to kiss you now." And I did.

You know, some people say that they see fireworks or feel lightheaded or a fire burning within and so forth. But that kiss. THAT kiss under a coconut tree one night at Punalu'u Beach Park was simply. . .pure. I can't describe it any other way. It was soft (man, his lips were like super soft!) and sweet and unassuming and beautiful. To this day, that kiss is listed at the top of my all-time kiss list. Ok, not that I have an extensive list, but I'm digressing here. It was amazing! And it was perfect and I knew it was time to go. I mean, I think I just rocked his "just returned from a two-year mission" world and that either made me a hussy or a predator or maybe just a girl who wanted to kiss someone who she admired because she wanted to thank him for being there for her. Maybe it was a little bit of everything, lol.  We headed home mainly in silence, not knowing what this meant or where it would lead. A few weeks later, he would ask me to be his girlfriend and with tears in my eyes I would say, "no".

All of these thoughts raced through my head as I lay there the morning after I turned him down. I had kissed him and hung out with him and spent all this time with him and then I spurned him. I was not a nice person. Maybe I could just stay in bed forever.

But no, it was time to get up and face things like a big girl. I had a lot of thinking and praying to do and I needed to talk to my girls. One thing I knew for sure, Fosi meant what he said, he wouldn't wait forever and if I was being honest with myself, there was more than a little piece of me that didn't want him to wait at all. 

Now if I could only get my heart to align with my head, I'd be good to go.


Monday, June 20, 2016

An Open Letter to My Husband on our Anniversary: What I've Learned Throughout our 24 Years of Marriage

Dear Fosi,

I’m sitting here in a hotel room in Dallas, Texas, some 3,700 miles away, writing you a letter on this, our 24th wedding anniversary.  Granted, this is not how I wished to spend this special occasion, separated by the great Pacific ocean and a large chunk of the US continent, but work called and I hopped on a plane, saddened by the fact that I’d have to spend Father’s Day, our anniversary and my first off-island time away from our new baby.  But I knew, as I’ve always known, that you supported me in my endeavors and that baby, Sonny, the dogs, mom and dad, the house and everything else would be well cared for in my absence.  That’s one of the things that I’ve learned about you after knowing you for over 30 years and being your wife for 24 of those years.

I know you’re not much for fancy celebrations or grand gestures and I don’t have a material gift to give you to commemorate our two dozen years of being eternal companions.  So I thought I’d write because I find it easier to express myself through the written word sometimes and you tell me I should write more, so here I go.

I’ve learned a lot from you, about you, about me, about us, and about a whole lot of other things through 24 years of marriage.  Most of it is amazing, a lot of it is challenging and some of it is downright heartbreaking, but all of it has taught me tremendous things about what matters and has shaped the woman that I am today. 
So if you don’t mind, I’d like to share with you just a few of the important things that I’ve learned about marriage during the course of our last 8,760 days together.

1.    I’ve learned that two people who are very different can be the best partners.

You’re quiet and low-key. I’m loud and opinionated. You keep things inside and everything I’m thinking and feeling usually seeps out all over the place. You do things without being asked and don’t expect credit or accolades and I’m usually pointing out how wonderful it was that I did the dishes. Your motto is, “let’s go for it.” and my motto is, “let’s think about and plan for it, like from 10 different angles.” And yet, this combination seems to work, not without it’s snags, but sometimes the synergy is magical and that has allowed us to create a wonderful life together and for our loved ones.

2.    I’ve learned that faith in God is essential in a marriage.

I can’t count how many times I’ve thought that it wouldn’t happen, that the odds were insurmountable, that it just wasn’t meant to be.  I’ve railed against the universe, wept, mourned, complained, plotted, negotiated and gave up trying and yet, through my faith, your faith, and collectively through our faith in God, we’ve experienced miracles in our lives.  Two children who came to us in the most unexpected and miraculous of ways. A home that we were able to obtain for our family, even when we appeared to be the most ineligible of buyers on paper.  The list of miracles and blessings are too long to list but our faith in God has most often helped our individual souls and carried us through our most difficult times.

3.    I’ve learned that you need to nurture a marriage by honoring what is important to your spouse.

I’ll admit it, I can be a really selfish person. Sometimes I just think about what I need and how I can get it. I’m also strong-willed and pretty set in my ways, with a “my way or the highway” attitude. Yeah, that doesn’t work very well in a partnership. I’ve learned that the hard way.   Different perspectives, different love languages and different upbringings are often part and parcel of a marriage, so making the effort to ensure that both voices are valued, and both viewpoints are shared and honored is really important.   I’ve been guilty over the years of pushing my agenda and ignoring what meant a lot to you and I’m still learning to let go of my need to control things and to find joy in the things that are important to you, even if they’re out of my comfort zone.  I’m working on it, hon!

4.    I’ve learned that there are times in every marriage when a “tune-up” is necessary.

Bills, babies, work, school, church and a whole slew of other responsibilities can be really stressful on individuals and marriages.  It is so easy to get caught up in the mundane details of everyday life, to put our time and energy on making it through the day and not letting the balls drop out of the air.  Things that were priorities for a couple (like date night, romantic gestures and alone time) can fall by the wayside.  Sometimes this takes the form of forgiveness for old hurts, addressing specific concerns or setting new goals together.  We all need ‘tune-ups’ to not only maintain solid relationships but to adjust to inevitable changes in life, as well as personal growth and individual needs over time.  And tune-ups aren’t just for couples but for individuals-we have to take care of and be kind to ourselves so we can be fulfilled and bring our best selves to the marriage, family and life in general.

5.    I’ve learned that living in the moment is one of the keys to great happiness in marriage and in life.

Ok, this is something that I theoretically know and am still trying to practice.  This is something that I struggle with maybe the most.  My mind is always thinking ahead or obsessing on something that already happened. And that causes great distress and, very often, a sense of worry and fear.  You, my dear husband, are a man who knows how to live in the present, but more than that, who is grateful in the present, laughs and loves with whole-heartedness in the present and I have always watched in delicious awe.  I feel like this is a secret that I’ve yet to fully unravel.  My greatest teachers have been Sonny and Makana, Ma’a, Mele, Snoop and you. . .but I have a long way to go.  I say that it’s better late than never!

The lessons are many, the memories and blessings could fill pages and pages. But I’ll end here by saying, “thank you”, for all you’ve blessed me and our family with. Even after 24 years, I think we are just at the outset of our eternal journey. I look forward to learning and growing by your side along that path.

Happy Anniversary, Fosi. I love you.

Eternally Yours,

Saturday, March 12, 2016


On February 25, 2016, the Eddie Aikau surf competition took place on Oahu’s North Shore at the world renowned Waimea Bay. It had only been the ninth time in over 30 years that the prestigious, invitation-only, meet took place due to stringent guidelines that require a minimum of continuous 20-foot open swells to hold the event held in Eddie’s honor.  It seems fitting that only the biggest waves be ridden by the best surfers in the world when considering that the meet’s namesake was notorious for surfing the largest and wildest swells for hours on end in his beloved bay. Eddie was the first lifeguard hired on the North Shore of O’ahu and Waimea Bay was his “home”.  Everyone knew that they were safe when he was on duty because no one died on Eddie’s watch.  It was his tenacity, his strength, his fearless grace and steely determination to ride the biggest waves and brave the most dangerous rescues, that inspired the phrase, “Eddie Would Go”.

Friends and family described him as being “full of aloha”, always ready to welcome and help another, attributes befitting his given Hawaiian name, “Makuahanai”, which translates to a parent who fosters, feeds or adopts. A native son of Hawai’i, Eddie’s love for the sea and his people earned him a spot on the Hokule’a, a voyaging canoe that set out to follow the ocean paths of ancient Polynesian ancestors, utilizing only traditional navigational tools and skills. When the canoe capsized several miles south of Moloka’i, it was Eddie who would “go”, as he hopped on a surfboard and paddled off towards land in an effort to save his crew. He was never seen again.

One may ask why I’m dedicating a blog to Eddie Aikau since I don’t surf and I’m certainly not a water person. I’m not quite sure myself except that as the island prepared for this rare event and thousands of people made the journey to the North Shore to share in it’s magnificence, I found myself moved and deeply interested. I pondered on the significance of this single human life and what he stood for. Here was a Hawaiian braddah, hailing from humble local circumstances, very little formal education and no career aspirations that the world would consider lofty or even economically sustainable. But Eddie followed his heart, his passion and I’d like to believe, the call of his ‘ohana and ancestors that came before him. He was brave, true, authentic. In a sports arena where your life was on the line daily, his courage and masculinity were not emblems of bravado and ego, but marks of an inherited, developed talent and gifts of service and aloha. He had to have been scared, whether riding a 30-foot-wave or paddling off to seek land on a lone surfboard. But he went anyway, time and again, he went despite any fears, self-doubts and expectations. He went because he loved; he loved and respected the ocean, he loved to surf, he loved people. And as a Hawaiian, as a woman, as a person of this ‘aina, I want to emulate the values that he stood for.

I’ve ridden many swells in my life and I’m fairly certain that I would have drowned without the help from God, family and friends. There have been days when I’ve looked out at the surf and thought, “should I stay on shore?” or “should I chance ‘um?”. In the last year, I’ve become the mom of a newborn and went back to school part-time to pursue a passion, while trying to balance a full-time career, a family and other responsibilities. Sometimes I want to call it a day, the waters seem too rough, the waves too high. But its when I do “chance ‘um”, its when I “go for broke”, that I enjoy the exhilarating rides of adventure, the satisfaction of fulfilling my potential and the joy that comes from doing what you love, and honoring who and where you came from. And so, if you’re reading this, I challenge you to catch the big wave, to chance ‘um. Because #EddieWouldGo and you can, too.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

In the Trenches. . .True Love at 3:14am

Three weeks in and I'm still going!  In this short period of time I've learned a lot and am simultaneously well aware of how little I know.  Humble pie is not a bad thing to eat while you're learning the ropes to caring for a newborn, it appears.  The other day I panicked when my mother-in-law fed my son twice within a 3 hour period because she said he was hungry. I explained that the doctor said we should strive to keep him on a feeding schedule to maintain his steady weight gain. She smiled and assured me that he would be fine, that he was hungry and she fed him. I mean, this woman who my husband and I deem, "the baby whisperer", has only raised a slew of babies over the last 50 years or so. Seeing the look of anguish on my face as I held Makana and imagined him becoming obese or suffering from dire gastrointestinal consequences, my father-in-law chimed in, "doctors not always right!". And how can you argue with that bit of wisdom?

24 days in and I've learned quickly to what and to whom I can turn to for help. Some are material things that make a parents' life much easier, but most come from humans. In this day and age, the material things are plentiful and have been created by people who, no doubt, once had an infant at home and thought to themselves, "how the hell can I create a solution for this?". 

Here's a short list of Delia's Favorite Baby Gadgets (all available online and delivered to your door in 2-3 business days):

1) A sterilizer (13 minutes to clean bottles, pacifiers and baby toys and no boiling water on a stove!)
2) A bottle warmer/cooler system (warmer heats up bottles in 2-3 minutes and the cooler keeps 2 bottles cool overnight so there's no blind stumbling to the kitchen to grab a bottle from the fridge and warm it up-set up perfectly on my nightstand!)
3) A video baby monitor (streams live video and sound, has night vision, you watch from a small, hand-held device anywhere in the house and you can speak into the device to soothe your baby from afar!) I'm using this now as I write this blog at the kitchen table.

Glory be to the creators of such wonders!

But even with these glorious creations, nothing and I mean nothing, can compensate for the type of help that comes in the form of people you can count on, most particularly in the form of a spouse.  I've always been grateful to Fosi for being the kind of husband and father who is hands on-cleans, cooks, shops, and serves his family and loved ones with selfless giving and so I guess I just assumed that he'd do the same when we brought home our little one. And I was right.

When I've left the house during my short maternity leave stint, I've had at least 3 people tell me, "you look well-rested, that's great!", to which I responded, "thank you, my hubby takes the 2am-6am shift."  The responses I receive range from, "you're lucky" to "good for him"to raised eyebrows and again, I take for granted that all partners do the same for their wives. Through discussions with other women, apparently this is not always the case.  This, in and of itself, could be the focus of a blog, but I prefer to keep this entry positive, lol.

For all you parents out there who've raised children, you know how challenging it can be.  Raising children is a blessing but it's hard work! I bow to the mothers out there who raise 2 or 3 (or more) little ones and primarily do all of the hands on stuff themselves. I pray for those whose partners are temporarily or permanently absent or, worse yet, who make life even harder with their presence.  To women (or men) like my mother who raised six children on her own after our father died, there are no awards or accolades great enough to praise and thank you.

I am blessed because I know what true love looks like in a partner. It looked different when we were dating or first married. It matured and grew through the years and went from taking just a romantic form to taking the form of family, friendship, sacrifice, hard work, generosity, kindness, humor and forgiveness.  I've seen the face of true love in a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand acts and more importantly I've FELT it. I've seen it take another shape, yet again, in the last three weeks. True love appeared this time at 3:14am, as I raised my head up from my pillow at the sound of my baby's cries.  Through sleepy eyes and ears, I saw my husband's back as he changed a wet diaper, then heard him speak lovingly to his son as he prepared his bottle, fed and burped him, and lay him back to bed.  That last part I didn't see because I had drifted off to sleep, grateful and secure in the knowledge that both baby and daddy were enjoying themselves.

Those moments I just described and hundreds more, are the moments that define what true love is for me. The crying child at 3am, the phone call from school saying that your son is hurt, finding out your loved one just died, not knowing how you'll pay the bills, going through hard times-that's what I call being "in the trenches". That's when you know who you can count on. That's when you realize who has your back, who you want on your team, what a true partner looks like.  Raising kids with someone, with a village of someones, is all about being in the trenches together.

I have a team of people that I can rely on in these proverbial trenches and I am forever grateful.  And always, at the top of my list, next to me in the trenches (as well as sharing in the beautiful landscapes of life's vista), is my hubby. Thank you, my love.

I got the next 3am feeding.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

In the Midnight Hour (aka Babies and Blogs)

So my life drastically changed 5 short days ago.  Before November 1, I slept when I wanted to, for as long as I wanted to.  Before November 1, I could never have dreamed that a 2 oz. bottle of ready-to-use, disposable baby formula would be the thing that I desired most to stack up on instead of quarts of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.  Six days ago you would hear me talking about how difficult it was to balance a demanding schedule of full-time work, part-time school, family and church responsibilities, while still enjoying some semblance of self-care and a social life.  Those days were a walk in the freakin' park.

Five days ago I became the mother of a precious new-born son.  Who knew that something so small could be so much work-require so much care, feeding, changing, fretting over, worrying about? I certainly never anticipated that I'd sit up in bed that many times a night just to make sure this tiny treasure was still breathing!  That I'd stand at the door to my home to welcome well-meaning guests with an over-sized bottle of hand sanitizer and ask them to 'disinfect' themselves before they touched the baby. Who could imagine that trying to dress an infant in a onesie could bring such angst?!? Studying for Torts on the Bar Exam didn't take this much mental concentration!

Six days ago, the only reasons I'd be up at 2am involved very self-centered (and most likely very enjoyable) activities, like being out with friends or watching Netflix and other 'stuff', lol.  And now, as I write this blog at 1am on a Friday night (Saturday morning), the fact that I managed to put this sweet baby to sleep successfully is more exciting to me (and much more of a personal triumph) than any other Friday night festivity I can remember.

Not even a week has gone by and I've learned so much. . .and had so little sleep! My son's name is Makana. On the second night of his arrival to our home, we had a discussion at 3am and it went a little like this:

Me: "Makana, we need to have a little talk."
Makana: *gurgles*
Me: "Do you notice that you and I are the only ones up? I mean, the whole household is asleep except for me and you. Do you see a problem with this?"
Makana: *smiles*
Me: "Hmmm. So I'd like to propose that we figure out this whole sleeping schedule thing. How about you stay up during the day more and sleep throughout the night like the rest of us do?"
Makana: (avoids eye contact)
Me: "I'll take that as a 'no'."

At the present moment, Makana and I are still negotiating the terms of his sleep schedule and let's just say that he has the upper hand thus far in this bargaining process.  And so, I've decided to make the most of his newborn nocturnal schedule and make a list of possible things to do while we're both up in the wee morning hours and he's staring at me like I'm supposed to provide entertainment with his 1am feeding.  So here's my list:

"Things to Do Between 12am-6am When Your Newborn Is Awake" (but already tended to):

1) Blog  (check)
2) Eat yummy things (check check)
3) Watch Netflix (I have yet to select a new series-any suggestions?)
4) Work on my papers for school (pending)
5) Exercise (next!)
6) FaceTime or Skype with friends in Japan (yes! yet to be scheduled)
7) Watch DVR'd shows (pau)
8) Clean (I think there's a cultural ban on cleaning at night, at least that's my story. . .)
9) Read (yes! any good book recommendations?)
10) Engage in other 'nocturnal activities' with other household members (I'm working on it, lol)

I'm determined to make the most of this midnight hour thing! I refuse to relegate this prime opportunity to mere bottles and diapers. I mean, the possibilities are endless, right? From these midnight sessions could come the next great novel out of Hawaii, or an "A" in my Master's class, a trim body, "bonding" activities with my hubby or catching up on all my favorite (and new favorite) shows! But alas, Makana has just drifted off to sleep and he just flashed a contented sleepy baby smile and I feel a yawn coming on, so maybe I'll just curl up next to him and catch a few winks and get back to my list tomorrow. . .maybe.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Maka the Cat: A Short Tail

"Mom, can you come out here, please?", the call came from my son out in the yard where I'd instructed him to cut the grass in pre-New Year's Eve neighborhood festivities preparation. 

"What's up, Sonny?", I replied at the front door.

"Can you help grab the kitten, the one that we heard crying last night?".

We had heard the cries of what we assumed were hungry and possibly abandoned or stray kittens the evening before and I hurried out to where he stood near our mailbox. There it was, tiny and curled up behind the base of the telephone pole in our yard. I picked up the tiny white fur ball, covered in grass clippings, and it meowed softly.

"Is the kitten dead?", asked the neighbor, "we saw it running around this morning."

"No, it's alive, we'll take it to the Humane Society", I responded as I carried the kitty to the patio to clean it up.

It continued to cry as I wiped it down and called to Sonny to grab some milk and a can of tuna. I held it up at eye-level to observe the tiny thing. It had a white body, with gray markings around its head and eyes, a gray tail, and one gray spot on the back of its neck. I had never been a cat person, I had actually hated cats growing up because they would cry like babies under my bedroom window at night, which scared the hell out of me, and because they used our yard like a giant kitty-litter box.  In my adulthood, as I became a dog lover, it softened my stance on cats as I begrudgingly accepted that there were cat lovers in the world who felt the same way I did about my dogs.

It was at this moment that the kitty looked directly into my eyes with its great big gray eyes as if to say, "Hey, I'm not that bad. I just want a chance to live."  Hmmm, maybe I'd been hanging out with and talking to my dogs for way too many years.  Nevertheless, when the little one started to eat and drink heartily, I thought to myself that it must be a fighter, a hungry one at that.  Being the social media creature that I was, I snapped a shot of her baby-grays and posted it on FB to ask if anyone wanted her. I received a number of "how cutes" and "keep its" and was warned that the Humane Society would put any kitten that weighed under two pounds to sleep. I also received a recommendation to call the kitten "Maka", for its eyes, or short for "Makahiki", in light of the pending new year.  I balked at the thought of naming it, firmly believing that you only named things that you planned to keep, call to you, and include in your family.

We wrapped the kitty up and headed to the Humane Society.  Upon our arrival, and after weighing it, we were told that it only weighed 12 ounces and that they would put her down. "You're going to kill it?", I asked incredulously.  "Most kittens don't make it without their mom when they're this young and this small, so yes", said Joe, the chipper animal worker. "If you'd like to foster it until it grows, we'll give you some things."

"Ummm. . .I'm not sure, my husband won't like this. . .", I mumbled as he handed my son a cat carrier and me a bag of food and kitty litter. "Yeah, we get to keep the cat!", said Sonny. "Wait, wait, we're not keeping a cat, we're maybe fostering at best...I need to think about this!", I told him.

"Here's some instructions," said Joe, flipping the kitty over and saying, "she just needs to gain 12 more ounces and be socialized before we can put her up for adoption. "But. . .but, I don't know anything about raising a kitten, how long will it take?", I sputtered.  "Maybe 2-4 weeks, the more she plays, the more she eats, the more she gains weight, good luck." And that was that. As I left the building, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was somehow conned into this by my sudden cat enthusiast of a son, the over-encouraging Joe, and the little kitty who was now nestled in the pink carrier at the back of the car.

The next several hours involved washing the foster kitty with Dawn, trying to pick off obvious fleas so my dogs wouldn't get infested and figuring out where it would make its 'home' for the time being. Fosi started with, "keep it outside", then "maybe bring it into the office, too cold outside" and finally, "it might be scared of the fireworks tonight, just keep it in the carrier in our bedroom". Uh huh, suckers, all of them.

My sister-in-law, the queen of cat lovers, upon hearing of the feline visitor, descended upon my home in record time, insisting that it be called Maka or Maka Girl (after reading the FB post, oh great), despite my insisting that it was just 'kitty' or 'cat' and refusing to give it a name. "I would take her if my building allowed pets, but now I can visit her here!", she gushed. Another one bites the dust.
She cooed over it in French and watched it stumble around the office carpet, attempting to crawl on me. "She thinks you're her mother!", she exclaimed. "She's comfortable on you and her head follows you whenever you talk." Uh, that's because I was the first one to feed it, mistake #1.

"Cats are easy to raise, Delia, they take care of themselves. Look, she's not even afraid of Snoop! That's a good sign." I shook my head, how did this happen? It was a guest, however, and a helpless creature, and so it was cleaned and fed and carried and made comfortable. I awoke at 3am to check on it and there it was, staring at me from it's carrier, meowing softly. When I reached for it, a sound that I'd never heard before seemed to emanate from its entire body. It reminded me of the low hum of an idling car engine and my first thought was it was having major digestive issues. After a while, as it clung to me, I realized that it was purring. That sound continued on whenever I picked it up or came into the room and took it out of the carrier. Wow, maybe it liked me.

When the kitten walked, it hopped on three legs because it appeared that its back left leg was either broken or lame.  Over the next few hours, the little one stumbled after the first hesitant, then curious, then playful Snoop. And Snoop nudged it with his nose, licked it and scratched the bedding around it, seemingly in an effort to make a bed for it. How odd, I thought Snoop would hate it, but he was intrigued by it and hung by the carrier when she slept in it. Mele, my 13-year-old pit bull, sniffed and licked the kitten's ears and rolled over, uninterested, as if kittens found their way into her sleeping space all the time.

On day two, I thought it a good idea to buy a couple toys, you know, just so it could play with it, expend energy, build an appetite, eat, gain weight, get closer to adoption.  But throughout day two she became more lethargic, wasn't interested in the toys or Snoop, threw up after eating and drinking and just wanted to sleep.  As the evening approached and I wasn't able to interest her in food or play, she started to mew, slowly and softly. When laid on my chest, she crawled up to my neck to rest. She became increasingly weaker and couldn't sit up on her own and I worried that she might be dying. My sister-in-law echoed my sentiments and recommended I hold her against my skin for comfort.  I resolved to take her to the vet the next day, should she last the night. I received a kind text from a friend, offering her a loving home and encouraged the little one to fight to stay alive, that it was wanted in a loving family.

But as the little one took a turn for the worse, I knew what was imminent and for a host of reasons, some of which I still don't quite understand, I bawled.  And I did what I thought a mommy should do, I stuck her in my shirt against my chest so she could hear my heartbeat and covered us with a blanket and said a little prayer and talked to her.

"Maka Girl, you're such a good, good girl. You're a survivor, you're brave and sweet and do you know that others want you in their home? But if you'd like, you can be a part of our home and our family." I envisioned, for a brief moment, coming home to Snoop barking at the window, Mele lounging in the patio and Maka Girl greeting us at the door, purring and rubbing against our legs.  A home where human, feline and canine co-existed in harmony and where I would say things like, "Where's the kitty?", and, "I'm a mom to one human kid, three canine kids and one feline kid."

Maka Girl mewed, low and soft, then long and mournfully. She put her two paws on my chest and I held her up and looked in her eyes. "It's ok, you can go if you want to, baby. Mommy's here. I'll ask Ma'a to meet you on the other side." I know he never liked cats but if the lamb and the lion can lie together in God's kingdom, then surely a naughty pit bull from Kalihi can care for a tiny stray kitten who came to live with our family for a short while.  I kissed her on the nose, told her I loved her, continued to stroke her and held her against my chest as she mewed, took a couple straggly breaths, one tiny last mew and then she was gone. 

I cried and asked Fosi, "Why, why did this happen?". "What was the point of her coming and living with us for only 48 hours and dying in my arms?". I needed a reason, I needed this to mean something. And why was I taking it so hard? I was reminded of being in the sacred space of others who shared their last breath while I was in their presence. My mom, my best friend, Feala, my doggie, Ma'a. I cried for all of them and for Maka Girl, who chose me to become her stubborn, surrogate mom for just a moment on this earth, who maybe just needed to feel loved before she moved on to the next level of existence. I think this tiny creature of God, only twelve ounces, came to teach me that love comes in all shapes and forms and that it can last a day and touch you for a lifetime. I think she came to teach me to open up my mind and heart to new experiences, to put aside long-held prejudices and beliefs that can prevent me from happiness and growth. Am I a cat person now? Maybe. But I know one thing, I am a changed person.  Because I loved and was loved by a little angel who became and always will be a member of my family.

Thank you, Maka Girl. See you on the other side.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fosi and Delia: "Will You Be My Girlfriend?"

In honor of our 22nd wedding anniversary, a short story from the page of our relationship book. Based on true events, but subject to slightly romanticized hindsight.

“Delia, will you be my girlfriend?”.

There it was. The question that I knew had been forthcoming for some time now. I anticipated it for weeks now with both excitement and trepidation.  I mean, what did I expect? We’d been hanging out together almost daily since he returned from his California mission in March. And here it was, already May, and we were practically dating without it being official.

Not that I didn’t want it to happen.  I mean, it was Fosi. The boy I’d had a crush on between the ages of 13-16.  I’d written secret letters to him as a wide-eyed schoolgirl and dedicated songs to him on Krater 96 during the love song hour anonymously. I cried when he went out with the first girl (ok so I helped set them up when she professed her feelings for him to me, of all people), filled in at the last minute as his Junior prom date because she cancelled at the last minute. I negotiated his Senior Prom date with the haole girl in the ward that he fancied.  To add insult to injury, I agreed to attend his Senior prom as his friend’s date, the short Korean guy who owned a really nice car and who Fosi promised to find a date for so they could go to the prom in his car. When Fosi started dating the haole girl’s best friend, I figured it was time to start daydreaming about someone more attainable, and considerably more available.

But we continued to be friends, attending church activities, walking home together from the chapel, chilling with our ward crew and hanging out at my house because he happened to be my brother’s friend, too.  Sure we flirted with each other and there were a few times where we got a little too close for friendship but nothing ever happened.  The years went by and I saw him off at the airport when he left for his mission, wrote him some letters and moved on to give my heart to someone else. 

The day he flew home, we all went to meet him at the airport, only to find out that we had missed him. A short time later, we filed into his KPT apartment where his family was holding a welcome home dinner. There he was, still tall, dark and handsome. He was dressed in his church clothes and wearing his name tag which bore the name of “Elder Ulima”.  When he turned to look at me, our eyes met and I remember catching my breath as a big smile came across his face and he walked over to greet me. “You’ve grown up, Delia”, he said. “My, my, my, Elder, so have you”, I thought to myself. 

The two years he was absent from my life had been extremely kind to him. He had filled out nicely and spoke differently. He said things like “ma’am” and “pardon me” now and he talked about his mission and the people he had met and the things he had learned.  The boy who I had fallen for, the one who wore jams and muscle t-shirts and liked popping and playing basketball was replaced by a young man who was starting college soon and spoke of future plans. Needless to say, I found all of this incredibly attractive.

And here we were, two months later, sitting on the wall at Ala Moana Beach Park. The single adults from our ward were holding a moonlight picnic and as they laughed and ate on the beach, Fosi had asked if he could speak to me alone.  We walked off a little way and found a quiet spot on the wall under the dim light of the street lamp. When he grabbed my hands and held them in his, I knew what was about to happen. He proceeded to tell me how he felt about me and how he wanted to be with me. And then he asked me the question that I had longed to hear, dreamt about hearing, for. . .years. 

“Delia, will you be my girlfriend?”

He said it softly, holding my hands and my gaze firmly in his. I felt myself begin to shake, the kind that comes on when you’re really nervous, really excited or really scared.  I felt my eyes begin to sting and my nose tingle and I knew that I was about to start crying. I couldn’t lose it, not here, not now. But I had to tell him, he deserved an honest answer.

“Fosi, I can’t be your girlfriend. Not yet. I’m still in love with someone else.”

And that’s when the water works began. I had previously told Fosi about the other guy, the one who broke my heart and who I hadn’t been able to get over yet. In that moment, I cursed that person for entirely different reasons now-for having to hurt someone I loved, for not being ready to move on.

Fosi listened quietly, never loosening his grip on my hands. He reached up to wipe away the tears streaming down my face with one hand, took a breath and proceeded to speak.

“Delia, I will wait for you. But, I won’t wait forever. You let me know when you’re ready to be my girlfriend.” And with that, he kissed me on the forehead, stood up, helped me to my feet and led me back to our friends on the beach.