All Life is Sacred...
I was scheduled for my hernia surgery tomorrow morning. I was apprehensive of course, and trying to keep it under the radar. Some of my previous hospitalizations created too much drama for me. Always humbly grateful for Healing Love and Prayers, I realized that sometimes I need to exert Faith in my own ability to summon Healing Energy, and not rely so much on everyone else.
Unfortunately, when I went to my pre-surgery check-up yesterday, my blood sugars were too elevated and the surgeon decided to postpone my operation until I can get yet another clearance from my primary care physician. I was super bummed initially, but then realized that I had been working hard to control my lipids in my blood, my cholesterol and triglycerides, which seem to be miraculously better now. In fact, so much better that I seriously question whether the blood results from my last test in May were actually from my blood. I feel like they mixed up the samples at the lab and mislabeled the vials. I will know soon whether they truly improved that much when I take another test in a couple of weeks.
I focused so much on my lipids, that I let my sugars go unmonitored. I gave up sweets like cookies, cake and pie, rice and anything that resembled overly sweet foods. Now I need to cut out skim milk and bananas in my bran cereal because of hidden sugars. Even ketchup is full of high fructose corn syrup. I have my work cut out for me if I hope to have my surgery rescheduled later in August.
As I was pondering all of this, I was reminded of a story from a few weeks ago. It isn't really related to my health struggles, but then again, in a way it is.
I was driving my son, Koa, to his last week of Summer School. Koa got in the car, put his seatbelt on, and then froze as I started to drive off. He was staring at his seat with his legs spread apart. I didn't know what he was looking at.
I figured there must have been food or a stain on his seat and he was trying not to get it on his pants. I glanced over, and then realized what was happening.
There was a little fat cockroach sitting on his pant leg on his inner right thigh. Koa was paralyzed while staring at this little roach. He wasn't a particularly ugly roach, but not exactly cute either. As I drove and watched traffic, I grabbed a napkin and quickly formed it into a bunched up cup where I could grab the roach without smashing it against Koa's pants which would have created a bigger issue for the morning.
I reached over with one hand and cupped the napkin around the roach and closed it, while keeping one eye on the road and traffic. I then put the napkin over by my window and shook it. Nothing came out. Then I hear Koa's voice. "Great...you missed him."
I glanced over and there was little Mr. Fatty roach still sitting on Koa's pant leg. Thinking he was going to scurry away in a blitz, like they usually do, I quickly reached over and cupped him in the napkin again and then brought it over by the window. I turned the napkin over to see the little guy before I shook him out of the window.
To my shock, the napkin was empty again. I was baffled, and looked over and there was Mr. Roach slowly crawling up towards Koa's knee. He was moving so slow. Koa was still frozen and very disappointed in me to say the least.
I said, "Look...he must be at the end of his life. A grandpa roach. He can hardly move." Koa said, "Get him!"
I reached over a third time with my napkin and tried to grab him without smashing him. As I lifted the napkin up, Grandpa Roach fell onto Koa's knee, and then tumbled over his leg and down onto the car floor mat somewhere into the abyss.
Koa wasn't pleased at all. I felt bad and said, "Don't worry. He is old and dying. Grandpa Roach won't be able to climb all the way back up onto you. Did you see how slow he moved?"
Koa replied, "I saw how slow you moved. Like a grandpa." I was like, "Ouch.." as I felt the sting of his sarcasm.
The rest of the ride to school was uneventful. After dropping Koa off I proceeded to drive down the hill to exit the campus. After exiting the lower gate, I was driving down the backstreet and I felt something on my arm. I looked down at my arm, as my hand rested on the shifter, and there to my shock was Grandpa Roach. He was just cruising and sitting on my forearm.
How he managed to climb all the way back up over a twenty-minute period boggled my mind. And yes, it was the same little fatty elderly slow roach.
Not having a napkin accessible, and not wanting to lose him for the fourth time, I decided to grab him with my bare hand. I cupped my hand around him gently and had planned to eject him from the car via my window. However, just then, I stopped at a stop sign and another driver was waiting for me as I had the right of way. My problem was that I didn't want to drop Grandpa Roach onto the road. I had hoped to fling him into some grass somewhere.
I had a strange feeling that a family member may have been visiting me in the form of this roach as he was cruising on Koa first, then me next, and totally calm and domesticated.
Another car then approached me from behind. I couldn't wave the other driver on with a clenched fist as it would convey the wrong message. So I panicked. I stuck my hand out the window and dropped Grandpa Roach on to the roadway. I quickly waved to the other driver and she smiled and waved back to me. I then turned and drove off.
It wasn't long before I started feeling guilty. I had dropped Grandpa Roach off in the worst possible place. On the busy roadway and almost in the middle of a four-way intersection nonetheless. I could see him, in my mind, struggling on the road, trying to crawl away slowly and laboriously, until a big fat car tire smashed him and smeared him across the road. I felt so bad.
I thought momentarily about turning around and looking for him but I was in a rush. The longer I vacillated back and forth about what I should do, the farther and father I drove away from the scene of the crime. By then, I was almost on the freeway and it didn't make any sense to turn around and drive all the way back. I thought I was being silly for a little cockroach, of which I have slaughtered many over the years in my Life.
Well, five and a half hours later, I was headed to go pick up Koa from Summer School. When I got into the car, I quickly relived the morning excitement, and thought about the fate of Grandpa Roach. I decided I would drive past the intersection where I had dropped him, to see if he was still there, and hopefully alive.
I knew the chances were slim to none. I thought about the horror of finding him in smashed pieces. I felt so guilty for leaving him where I did, in the hot Sun, in the middle of traffic. I decided that I would park my car and quickly look for him on the roadway. If I found him, I thought about putting him in the grass along the sidewalk.
Then, after further guilty reflection, I decided that I would bring him back into the car, and this in despite that the rest of the family absolutely hates and fears cockroaches. Maybe he wouldn't show himself, and could live out the little remainder of his Life there comfortably. Kind of a roach retirement home, rather than the deadly roach motel, of which I had one under my car seat and which I would have to remove it from the vehicle if Grandpa Roach took up residence there.
I arrived at the back gate to the school a little early and was able to park alongside the intersection. I got out of the car and I could feel my Heart pounding a little as I scoured the asphalt and roadway for any signs of Grandpa Roach.
I walked in a grid, back and forth, expanding my circles wider and wider starting with the point where I dropped him out of my window. The ground was mottled with light and dark spots which made it even more difficult to see a tiny roach.
I tried to figure out how fast he could crawl, and knowing that this was almost six hours now since I last saw him, that he could be anywhere in the vicinity. I never gave up hope as I searched the ground.
I had to keep one eye on approaching traffic as I was in the middle of the intersection of this backstreet, looking at the ground, and cars were still coming and going in all directions. I didn't want to get run over.
I was most worried about a car stopping, after seeing me walking around the street, searching the ground for something. I could just see it then. A car full of youths stops in the middle of the road. "Hey! What did you lose? What are you looking for?"
I couldn't lie. "I'm looking for Grandpa Roach."
"Your Grandfather smokes marijuana?"
"No. Not my Grandpa's roach. Grandpa Roach. A real cockroach."
Then I could see everyone pulling out there phones, snapping unflattering photos of me, then speeding off only to post the "crazy man looking for cockroaches in the street" on Instagram. That was truly my biggest fear. More than getting run over by a car.
When cars approached, I quickly exited the roadway and feigned talking on my phone in an imaginary conversation with God, or I just looked up at the clouds and sky like I was noticing something. After the car passed, I resumed my frantic search.
It was fruitless. He was gone. To an unknown fate. I did notice some nice cool tall green grass around a tree nearby and imagined that Grandpa Roach made it to that Oasis to live his Life out in luxury and abundance.
I got back into my car and drove up to pick up Koa. When he entered the car, I asked him, "Guess who I found sitting on my arm this morning as I drove out the back gate after dropping you off?"
I could tell by the confused look on his face, he had no clue. I said, "Grandpa Roach!"
Koa couldn't help but smile and laugh. "Grandpa Roach" he uttered with a chuckle.
I said, "Yeah! Can you believe it? How the heck did he manage to crawl all the way from the floor to sit on my arm just cruising?"
Eventually we past the intersection where I ejected my little friend so rudely from my moving vehicle. I shared the story of my regret and search for him. Koa listened intently. I said that I thought maybe a large truck came through the intersection, and Grandpa Roach got stuck in the large tire treads. Now he was spinning around and around at a high rate of speed, like being on an out of control Ferris Wheel. I told Koa, "I should have looked for a tiny trail of roach barf on the roadway to prove my theory." He laughed.
Then Koa shared. Something he rarely does. As I spend so much time tending to my other son, Elliott, that I sometimes feel guilty about Koa. We don't talk as much as we should.
Koa said, "Last night, I was laying in bed, and I saw a little black flying beetle on my bed. I tried to smash him with my papers. Somehow I missed and he was still alive. I felt really bad and let him crawl onto the papers, then climbed down off of the top of the bunkbed, and put him on the other side of the room so he could hang out there."
I was almost speechless.
I said, "Wow...that was great Koa. Such compassion and kindness. I am proud of you."
Then Koa said, "Yes. All Life is Sacred."
I couldn't believe it. Koa. The hard-headed stubborn son. The boy who talks a big ruthless gangster game, and is even more unmerciful in his online gaming as he slaughters imaginary enemies and avatars of real school friends. These were not the words I expected him to utter. "All Life is Sacred."
I said, softly and appreciatively, trying to suppress emotions, "Yes Koa. All Life is Sacred. That is so important to remember in Life."
The rest of the ride home was in reflective silence as an array of 1980's music filled the car cabin from the radio. My Heart beamed with so much gratitude and pride. Usually quiet and reserved Koa exposed a part of his Heart that he rarely allows anyone to see. Even me.
If there was one fundamental lesson I would want my boys to remember in Life, long after I am gone. That would be right up there. All Life is Sacred.
I was reminded of two decades of advocacy work in Wai'anae especially with the fierce warriors and kūpuna of the organization, Koa Mana. So much 'ike in that name, and understanding the hidden meanings of Koa, the kaona, was one reason why I named my second son Koa. So many seemingly endless battles trying to save cultural sites from destruction and desecration. So much iwi of our kūpuna, their bones, dug up for sand mining, utilities, road projects, housing, or blown up for military training in our most sacred valleys.
Remembering kūpuna who have passed on along that coast. Understanding the Kāne practitioners.
My Beautiful brother out there, Glen Kila, always shared the saying, "Ua kapu ke ola na Kāne. All Life is Sacred to Kāne."
I was recently able to spend some time with Glen and my brothers out there when two sets of human skeletal remains were repatriated back to Hawai'i from Texas. A serviceman in the Air Force had somehow collected two po'o, or skulls, from somewhere on O'ahu during his military service here in the 1950's. He passed away and some years ago, his son found them in a dresser drawer belonging to his late father. He turned them into the University of San Antonio in Texas.
The University published a notice for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 and OHA filed a claim to repatriate them.
Ultimately, through some beautiful gifted friends, the two ancestors identified themselves, in Spirit form, as coming from Nene'u at Pokai Bay. One was a male, a fisherman. The other, a female. Not a couple, but both having been taken from the sands there.
Amazingly, the location ended up aligning with what little information the family had about where their father might have collected the remains.
So in a very quiet, private ceremony, the remains were returned to Nene'u to be reburied. It reminds me that All Life is Sacred. Even in the Afterlife.
So how does any of this tie together. I am not sure. I need to reflect upon these words and this writing. I do know, however, that as I prepare for my surgery, yet again, that I am very grateful for the experience of getting to see deeper within my own son, Koa, something that I rarely do with all of the unyielding frenetic daily struggles and exhaustion. I am grateful to reflect upon the lessons of the Ancestors. To know Friendship. To know Disappointment. To know Forgiveness. To know Love.
This photo was taken from the Heiau Kāne'īlio, in Wai'anae at Nene'u. Before Kamehameha took this Kāne temple and rededicated it to Kū in his wars on conquest. It is a simple, yet Beautiful, reminder for me. Wai'anae has never looked so Beautiful.
Ua kapu ke ola na Kāne. All Life is Sacred to Kāne. All Life is Sacred. Period.
Thank you Grandpa Roach for the valuable experiences, reflections and lessons. May you Rest in Love and Light...