Tuesday, February 28, 2012

24 Hours

Sept. 22, 2008: I hadn't seen her for months. We'd spoken on the phone, but not as often as we used to. We lived one block away from one another. She was my best friend since I was a teenager, my former roommate and maid of honor, keeper of my secrets and the one who always had my back.  Marriage, motherhood, school and career had kept me busy and her life had taken a turn towards illness in the last few years. She was home bound now and although our lives had grown in different directions, that we loved and cared for one another was an unspoken known.  I had the nagging feeling for weeks that I should visit. I told Hubby that I wanted to see her and we took Sonny, some of her favorite foods and a spiritual message and went to spend an evening with her. It was both wonderful and painful to see her-she didn't look well. We caught up, ate, laughed and gossiped-things we did so well together. Hubby shared the message and she broke down and for the first time, expressed how sad she was, how hopeless she felt and how she felt the message he shared was just for her. I promised we'd work together to find solutions for her, we hugged and as I stood at her bedroom door, I turned back and told her, "I love you, Feala." and she replied, "I love you, too." That was the last time we spoke. 24 hours later, I received a phone call that she was rushed to the hospital and was currently in a coma, 48 hours later we pulled the plug and we buried my best friend 2 weeks later.

November 10, 2009: It was 8am. I was in a rush to get to work. I had only worked at the company for two months and didn't want to be late. I hurried to make my mother a bowl of cereal, Honey Bunches of Oats, as I recall.  She sat in her room, holding her leg which was aching, always a concern for a diabetic person on dialysis. I asked if she needed to go to the doctor to get it checked out and she assured me that my sister, who was on her way to be with her today, would take her. I hesitated at her bedroom door, turned to look at my mother and told her to call me if she needed anything. That was the last time I had a coherent conversation with her. Three hours later, my sister called to tell me she was rushed by ambulance to Kaiser and to come right away.  By 3pm, my mother had passed away. Shocked and overcome by sorrow, our family spent the next few hours sitting, talking, singing and praying by her bedside until they told us they had to take her body away. 24 hours later, I sat in her empty bedroom, wondering what had happened and of all the thoughts that flooded my weary and saddened mind, I couldn't help but be disturbed by the fact that her last meal was cereal.

February 15, 2011: Kahuku Song Fest. Na Wai had agreed to be 'celebrity' judges (I guess they were desperate, lol). After a night of amazing performances, great music, entertainment and hard work by so many talented North Shore teenagers, we greeted friends, congratulated the kids and took pictures with people. I greeted my brother-in-law, Jr., and his family. His daughter performed with the Juniors and his son with the winning Sophomores. Ever the analyst, he asked me what criteria we used as judges to determine the winner. I laughed and promised him that I didn't cheat just to ensure his son's win. We took pictures with the kids and he was, in his usual quiet and unobtrusive way, proudly standing by. I made a mental note that he didn't look well and chalked it up to long days at work, the normal stresses of life and a pending flu or cold. Early the next morning, I awoke to the sound of my husband crying. . .Jr. had a sudden heart attack while playing basketball and was gone.  24 hours later, we sat in his house, surrounded by family and community-shocked and devastated at our loss.

24 hours. . .24 hours. It's amazing how life can change so drastically in one day. You find yourself wishing, begging, negotiating for those hours back. You shake your head and wonder why most days in our lives fly by uneventfully and why this had to happen today of all days.  It makes you think about your own life, no one is guaranteed 24 hours or 24 minutes. What would we do if we knew we only had 24 hours left to live? Why don't we do that now?

What would I have done if I had known when I last saw Feala and Mom and Jr. that it was really the last time.  I would have said thank you for all you've contributed to my life, I love you, I'll miss you, don't go. . .there would have been hugs and kisses and tears and good-byes. Why then, why then don't I live my life like there's only 24 hours left? Who can I, no who must I do and say these things to NOW. . .what about you?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Soundtrack of Our Lives

As I sit here writing this blog, I'm entering my 100th hour of mourning over the loss of what I consider one of the greatest voices of all time, Ms. Whitney Houston. This mourning has taken the form of listening to her music non-stop since I found out she passed away, much to the dismay of my family and my assistant at work.  I mean, they loved her, but they've moved on already.  I felt the same way with Michael Jackson's passing.

Look, people can say what they like about Whitney and about society's misguided attention on one person, one celebrity, someone who threw away her life and God-given gift on drugs and a loser husband. For me, I'm not here to judge the person, I'm all about celebrating the MUSIC. The music lives on and with it the soul and legacy of the artist. No matter what their shortcomings, when they sang or played, they shared a gift with us, the listener. They poured their sorrow, joy, failures, pain and praises into each lyric, each note and it resonated within our own hearts and souls. Their music became the soundtrack of our lives and, for that, I honor their contributions to our world. . .particularly to mine.

Think of your own lives. . .what songs remind you of high school or your first crush in middle school? What did you study to in college? What track did you listen to over and over again when your heart was broken the first, second and fifth time? What music comforted you when a loved one died? What was "your jam", or "our song". Which songs did you dance the night away to or pound on the boom box (I'm dating myself here) or in the car as you cruised with your friends? What music inspires you-what do you clean to, cry to, bake to, work to, create to, scream to, make love to? THAT music, THOSE songs make up the soundtrack of our lives and what would life be without music? Not a life that I would personally enjoy, that's for sure.

So here's where I get to be indulgent by paying homage to some of the songs/artists that have appeared on my soundtrack thus far in my life . . .

Childhood: Disco, Hawaiian music (Sunday Manoa, Sons of Hawaii, Cazimeros, Paniolo Country), Beatles, Supertramp, Gerry Rafferty, Paul McCartney and Wings, Bread, Elton John (I had older sisters!)

Camp Erdman, 6th Grade (Ferm Elementary): Human Nature, Time after Time

Upper Elementary, Middle and High School: The Police (Zenyatta Mondatta and Synchronicity albums) and THE JETS (You've Got It All, Private Number, Crush on You, La la la Means I Love You, Make It Real, Cross My Broken Heart, etc.) almost ANY 80s song and SLOW JAMS!

Songs that I WILL booty dance to anytime, anywhere: It Takes Two, Baby Got Back, Push It, Supersonic, O.P.P.

First Rap Song: The Show

Favorite Karaoke Songs with My Girls: I Will Always Love You, Star-Spangled Banner, One Moment in Time (yes, they are all Whitney songs-we aimed high!)

Song that we blasted when we cruised Waikiki: Brass Monkey 

What I listened to when I experienced my first REAL heart-break: Can't Let Go, I'm Not in Love, Release Me

"Our Songs" (Hubby and I): You Give Good Love (again, Whitney!), Tender Love (his Junior prom theme, yes we went together and yes, we've known each other that long), With You (wedding song) and So Blessed (Mariah)

What you'll hear from November-December in my house every year: Christmas albums from the Jets, the Carpenters, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey

Songs that remind me of people who I've lost: Ribbon in the Sky, Halo, Heirlooms, God Bless My Daddy/Mom I Love You medley

My iPhone playlists today: Fiji, J Boog, Katchafire, Na Wai (woot woot!), Abba, Bob Marley, Dixie Chicks, Shania, Celine, Whitney, Elton, Michael, Hawaiian (Na Palapalai, Darren Benitez, Weldon) and a great 80s/90s mix

Ah music, how grateful I am for your role in my life. . .think I'll go listen to sister Whitney now. . .may you all enjoy the Soundtracks of Your Own Lives. . .

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Vow. . .Translated

So, Hubby and I decided to celebrate Valentine's Day early, something we do every year to avoid the crowds on the most romantic day of the year.  "We" (I) decided to watch what promised to be the ultimate romantic, love-laden, sigh-filled, tear jerker movie of the year, "The Vow". Here was the story of a young married couple, madly in love and just starting their lives together, when tragedy struck. A car accident strips the wife of any recent memories, basically erasing any remembrance of her devoted  husband (portrayed by super hot hunk Channing Tatum, yes please!). You can just imagine what drama unfolds when she considers returning to her estranged family and former fiance, despite overtures of undying love from the desperate now stranger of a husband.  I won't spoil the movie for those who haven't seen it yet, but I was fascinated to find out that the movie is based on an actual couple who went through the exact same thing.

As we sat there in the theater watching Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams exchange wedding vows worthy of any premium Hallmark wedding card, I turned to Hubby and asked if he would fight to make me fall in love with him again should I lose my memory in a horrific car accident. His reply, "Yeah, I guess so. . .sure, I would fight for you." Hmmmm. . .thanks, hon. Well, in all fairness, that was right after I pointed at the screen and exclaimed to Channing, "I wouldn't forget YOU, brah!" and kept making low whistling noises every time he took off his shirt. OK, perhaps that was bad form on my behalf, seeing as Hubby and I were on our Valentine's date and I should've picked up on the dirty looks Hubby was shooting me but hello, he was HOT!!! I tried to assure my eternal companion that he was hotter but seeing as I was one step away from getting a bucketful of popcorn dumped on my head, I decided to scale back on the screen comments.  

So. . .about the Hallmark vows. This is the part of the movie where every woman sighs and wishes her man wrote those vows about her. This is also the part of the movie where those who haven't gotten married yet are taking verbatim notes.  I, on the other hand, sat there thinking, "yup, that's what we all believed when we first got married." Now, almost 20 years into my own marriage, a little wiser, a little jaded (and a lotta grateful). . .I have my own interpretation on wedding vows. 

Here's my translation of the vows from the movie:

Channing Tatum (Husband): "I vow to fiercely love you in all your forms, now & forever. I promise to never forget that this is a once in a lifetime love."

Translation: "I promise to love you even when you gain 60 pounds during pregnancy, turn into a screaming, weeping, self-professed bloated cow every second week of the month and nag me about picking up my socks until my ears bleed."

Rachel McAdams (Wife): "I vow to help you love life, to always hold you with tenderness, and to have the patience that love demands. To speak when words are needed, and to share the silence when they're not. To agree to disagree on red velvet cake, and to live within the warmth of your heart and always call it home." 

Translation: "I will always love you and I will show this love and improve the quality of your life by gently telling you to get your crap together when you're slacking and by restraining myself from strangling you when you leave the toilet seat up at night.  I will only speak when necessary (which is anytime I feel like talking) and well, if I'm silent, you know you're in BIG trouble. It is an unspoken rule that ANY kind of cake makes me feel better and finally, I must always be the ONLY one in your heart, mind or peripheral vision or you will have NO place to call home." 

It's amazing how women are able to read through the lines like that, huh? 

But in all seriousness, I am a hopeless romantic at heart and, ask my friends, I always believe that LOVE prevails at the end of the day. I want to express my gratitude here (this is where I get mushy, peeps) to my Hubby. Happy Valentine's Day, hon. Thank you for putting up with all of my shortfalls and loving me regardless of the nagging, tears and consumption of copious amounts of cake. Through our ups and downs, this is what I can truly say about you. . .you are a man who loves with his whole heart. A man of few words (which is perfect for me, a woman of too many words!), no written or spoken vow is necessary because you LIVE your convictions and commitments each and every day. 

Enough said. . .go out and enjoy your Valentine's Day, friends! 


Friday, February 10, 2012

A Taste of My Own Medicine!?!?

I'd like to preface this blog by stating that I don't like taking any sort of medication, even when I have a headache or cold-it's usually a last resort for me. I dunno, I've never been too thrilled with synthetic, Western medicine, but I understand that it does serve its purpose and I have enjoyed the relief, from time to time, of something like Tussionex when I faced a long night of hacking my lungs out.

That being said, I'm currently in the position of having to take medication for the next three months.  I started it a couple of weeks ago and it's been an interesting ride, to say the least.  One tiny pill in the morning and one tiny pill at night-should be simple and painless, right? Wrong!

I should mention here that I had decided, coincidentally, to start a "diet and wellness" regime at the same time I started taking my meds. The first thing I did when I picked up my prescription was to read the fine print, you know, the "if you take this pill for acne your hair may fall out and you might have a heart attack". . .and on and on and on. So when I read the fine print, I laughed out loud as I reviewed the potential side-effects: weight gain, increased appetite (so much for my diet and wellness program), decreased libido (sorry Hubby) and other fun stuff like diarrhea, insomnia and altered emotions (again, sorry Hubby and Sonny!). I mean, who makes up this stuff? Would it hurt to give me a medication that decreases weight, increases libido, makes me happy and doesn't have me running to the bathroom? Now THAT'S a pill that would make millions! I mean surely, surely there is something organic, something native, something traditional that can be prescribed that does NOT have a grocery list of side-effects attached?

The first week, I was ravenous all day long. . .that didn't mesh too well with the carrot sticks, health shakes and whole wheat crackers that was part of my new eating lifestyle. Images of what I really wanted to do with those carrot sticks were interspersed with fantasies of Big Macs, ribeye steaks and chocolate cake. Couple that with the difficulty sleeping (and yet not having anything to do in the middle of the night. . .*cough cough*) and the mood swings and I was not in a freakin' good place!

It's been a couple weeks now and I pretty much have the appetite thing under control. As my body adjusts, I find myself more stable and the "other stuff" is adjusting itself accordingly (hallelujah!).  I wonder how people take more extreme forms of medication every day for years. . .my heart goes out to all of you! Wish me luck, people, first that the medication works and next, that I don't turn into Jabba the Hut (and I'm referring to both his girth and his tendency to maim and kill people around him).

Just another 10 weeks or 70 days to go until I'm free!