We received the email from my cousin Koa last night ... a family message to let us know the time and details of the memorial service for his elder sister Mokihana. It was one of the last things Pete did before coming to bed, and just one more reminder that our dear friend and cousin had indeed passed from that familiar body I have known all my life. The email stayed on the page as Pete stepped from the Vardo to brush his teeth and do going to bed things. I re-read the message, hearing Koa's organized voice modulated and even explaining what will happen, why it was happening and when it would all take place. He anticipated questions with answers and in true fashion ended with "If you don't already have a job, please call or email us ... thanks for everyone's willingess to jump right in." A voice mail with this same cousin's voice was on my cellphone when we drove into town where cellphone service happens. The same modulated voice with the message of Mokihana's passing was there, too. It's all too real, all true and of course, we have known the cancer was wide-spread and Mokihana's ika was spent.
If there is anything of value in pecking at keys that form words I hope to find it as I go along. Grief is physical, I tire from the work that is required to feel the sorrow and the gladness in all its modulations. Pete and I grieve differently, I notice how the stages of grief pitch up into the stage of anger as we pick at each other as if the fighting will make the other loss less important. A distraction? Maybe, or just a human condition that allows us to move through. As I hung over the edge of the futon reading and re-reading that email my mind bargained with my body: "If I get on a plane, arrange for oxygen, get a ...." Anything to make it possible for me to travel once more and arrive at a place that is already a proven no-go ... the bargaining just won't work. Travel back home is not a healthy choice for me or Pete. We have made those trips and know we do not have the health to do it again ... not now. This is the truth and it saddens us.
This is grief work.
Before we fall to sleep Pete talks about Mokihana again. He tries to remember the very first time he worked on her old Papakolea house: her sink was not working. It was the first of many other fix-it times for him in her houses. He would come to know my cousin and island family would become more and more real because of it. I recall the times of knowing when we were girls, teenagers, young women. We have know each other for a lifetime. Pete and I-- two old dears who create a life not familiar to our family back in Hawaii, grieve the loss of a cousin and grieve the reality that we will not be at that memorial gathering. The comfort and consolation that might come from the stories and energy must come in different ways for us. We have created rituals here and that is good.
The process moves in whirling ways. Current sadness passes and then there is a blast of radio from the outside kitchen ... a snip from the Newport California Jazz Festival "I'll take you there ..." the Staple Sisters. "I love that song!" Pete says through the window in the front door. Yah, there you go. Maybe a Sunday drive will take us into town where cellphone service happens. Maybe I will call family and talk for awhile. Maybe. I'll take you there.