A Love Story...


This week is our 25th Anniversary of Marriage. My wife, Michiyo, usually doesn't care to be photographed. However, I Honor her in this post. If she sees it, I have prepared the couch with a blanket and pillow already.

I met her while in law school. I was shy, an introvert, a virgin, and looking to start my law school year of classes with great trepidation. I was sitting outside of the law library with some classmates. We saw Michiyo walking slowly while looking at a small piece of paper, then around at the buildings. She looked lost.

My classmate said, "Kai, I dare you to go help her..."

I laughed nervously and responded, "No way...you go help her..."

"Ah...chicken I see. I should have known..." he added.

That did it. I stood up, in defiance, and walked over to her, looked at her paper, and recognized it was one of the law school classrooms. Apparently, the English Program for Japanese Nationals and other non-English students had fortuitously ran out of space and was using some of the law school classrooms for their classes.

I led her to the law school courtyard and showed her the classroom she would be using. She smiled and thanked me profusely. I walked back to my friends defiantly and laughed. "I 'aint no chicken brah..." We all laughed.

The next day was a Saturday, and I was walking at Ala Moana Shopping Mall with my dorm roommate. Suddenly I looked up and there she was again with some of her friends. We recognized each other, smiled, laughed and waved "hello!"

In the weeks to come, I would exit my law classes, and sometimes see her and her fellow students waiting for their class to begin. I started talking to her and her friends after summoning the courage. It was mostly small talk, lots of nervous laughter, and light-hearted.

One day, another good friend at UH asked me if I had asked her out yet. I said, "What? No way...hahaha..." He said, "Brother, she is waiting. You need to ask her out, with her friends, to go sightseeing around the island."

I took his advice and one day, summoned the courage, and asked her and her best friend if she wanted to go sightseeing around the island. They both were excited. So we did one weekend and had a fun time. 

That led to more outings, then some group dinners at our dorm with her friends and my friends. I showed off my cooking skills, or lack thereof.

Eventually her best friend politely declined some of our outings which led to just me and Michiyo going out, driving around, watching movies and going to dinner.

After many months we became an item. We would drive around in my white 1966 Ford Mustang and sometimes just park watching the city lights or ocean, listening to Air Supply on my car cassette tape player as she loved them.

She shared, that when she was younger, that after the movie "Footloose" came out in Japan, she and her friends went to go see Kenny Loggins in concert even though they only knew that one song from him. At the concert, when the music started, they realized that it wasn't Kenny Loggins singing, it was Kenny Rogers. Hahaha...they didn't know who he was or any songs from him. Lost in Translation...

She was living with an uncle who lived in Kane'ohe. I would drop her off at their house at night, but we would often just lean against my car and talk for an hour before she went into the house. I had bought her flowers and a stuffed bear one night. She kissed me that night. It was my first kiss from my first girlfriend. 

Fast forward again, her classes were ending as was her student visa. She would be returning to Japan soon enough. 

We were sitting one night, in my dorm room, on my bed, listening to music and cuddling as she seemed somewhat down.

I turned and asked her what was wrong. She looked at me, teary-eyed, and said, softly, "I have to return to Japan. I don't think we will ever see each other again."

Saddened greatly, I asked her why, "What do you mean?"

"She put her head down, and said, "I am getting older. I will probably be introduced to eligible men and have an arranged marriage."

I was astonished. I asked, "Are you serious? How can that happen?"

She said, "That is just the way it is."

I said, "But I love you..."

She, looked back up at me, with teary eyes, then put her head back down and said, softly, "But you aren't going to marry me..."

I said, "I would love to marry you..."

She looked back up at me in disbelief. "Really? You would marry me?"

I said, "Of course Sweetheart. I love you. Would you marry me?"

She began sobbing and buried her head into my shoulder as I wrapped my arms around her and just held her as we sat there for what seemed like a Beautiful Eternity.

So we made plans about her trip back to Japan and then her return to Hawai'i. She had intended to go home for three-weeks and then return and we would plan our wedding.

When she returned to Japan, her father fell ill, so the three weeks of separation turned into three-months of separation. 

Then her father suddenly passed away. Her whole family was devastated. So the three-months of separation turned into three-years of separation.

I had sent her a care-package right after she returned home with presents, another Bear wearing one of my shirts, a cassette tape of our favorite songs and a video cassette that I had put together with photos of my family and I so her family could get to know me and my family easier. 

Before she left, she lamented having to leave me. We would sit in my car, just holding each other, listening to music. I introduced her to "When I Need You" by Leo Sayer. When I hear that song today, I am transported right back to sitting with her, in my Mustang, just holding each other, in our brand new Love. Not knowing then how long we would end up being separated. I still tear up.

We would listen to that song and I let her know that I would be with her anytime she needed me if she closed her eyes. This was before her three-week trip, which turned into three-months, then three-years.

Her father was able to see the video tape before he passed so at least he knew who would be marrying and taking care of his daughter for the rest of her life. That provided me some comfort although I had wished I had met him. I promised him in the Spirit World that I would always take care of her.

Michiyo and I would talk on the telephone whenever we could, overcoming the language barriers. Calls were expensive and we often just stayed on the line, listening to each other breathing. I could hear her quietly crying at times, while I tried to assure her that I would wait patiently for her  to return, as long as it took. 

Her mother spoke no English and I spoke no real Japanese so when her mother answered the phone, it was a challenge to communicate, almost comical at times. Her mother and I laughed a lot.

I had learned to play and sing Patience by Guns N' Roses back in college and it became our theme song, just me and my acoustic guitar. I couldn't whistle for beans however like the beginning of the song. 

We wrote love letters to each other, back and forth, for the three years, while I finished law school and actually started working in Hilo after I passed the bar exam. I so Treasured them. Even today, when I read those letters, they transport me right back in time, to a real and powerful Love, a poignant reminder when we go through difficult times today, of the Genesis and Power of our Love.

At that time, I was planning on bringing her back so we could get married but I knew that she preferred to live on O'ahu rather than in Volcano where my parents lived. I was working in Hilo as an Investigator in the RICO Unit of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. So I started looking for jobs on O'ahu.

That is when I saw a tiny little newspaper ad that said, "Do you want to work protecting Hawaiian burials?"

I responded and flew over that week for an interview. I was offered the job and the rest is history.

I brought Michiyo back to Hawai'i so we could get married. I remember the excitement of picking her up at the airport. We drove to St. Louis Heights park, where we spent much time when we were dating, and quietly stood at the rail overlooking Mānoa Valley, in the cool crisp air, while I held her from behind, and inhaled her hair. It was like a dream after three long years.

When she was pregnant with my first son, Elliott, I had been applying for Federal jobs with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which is now called Homeland Security, while still working at Burials. I didn't want to join the USMC or Military like my father's career choice, but dreamt of being a Federal law enforcement officer. 

After successfully testing and applying, I had been receiving job offers for Border Agent in Texas and New Mexico, Deportation Officer and Hearings Officer in San Fransisco, etc. and declining them, one after another, all within the allotted timeframe in order to stay active on the hiring list. I really wanted the Special Agent Criminal Investigator position and really wanted to work in the Honolulu Field Office. It was slim chances however.

Well, after over two-years of declining position offers and staying on the list, I received an offer for a Special Agent Criminal Investigator in the Guam Field Office. I was so excited and in disbelief. Michiyo, who was pregnant, and I, talked about what life on Guam would be like, whether we could handle it. 

I wondered how long it would take for me to try and move back to Honolulu, after maybe three years, I might be able to transfer. It was a lot to think about and I had to decide quickly and return the paperwork to either accept or decline the offer to stay active on the list. I was about ready to accept it.

Well, at work, a few days later, I get a burial call at the INS Honolulu Field Office right there on Ala Moana Blvd. We responded, and the trenching they were doing exposed some bones, but they turned out to be from a horse.

The Director of INS was the one who greeted us and escorted us to the site. As we were leaving the secured compound, we struck up a conversation. He was intrigued about my law degree and work with Hawaiian bones and the deceased. In our discussion, I happened to mention that I had received an offer for the Special Agent position in Guam and was weighing my options, as I did truly love the work I currently did as well. It was a hard decision. He said, "Oh that is interesting. Good luck on your decision." I thanked him as we parted ways.

A few days later, on a Friday, I received a call from INS in California. They said that wanted to offer me a position as a Special Agent Criminal Investigator in the Honolulu Field Office. They said that I needed to let them know within 48 hours however. I was stunned. It was my dream job, and so hard to figure out what to do as I couldn't wait to share the news with my wife. 

We wouldn't have to live in Guam. It was almost too perfect an offer.

However, the woman also added at the end that if I accepted the offer on Monday, I would need to leave at the end of the following week to go to Altanta, Georgia for 16 weeks of intensive training. My mind was racing, as well as my Heart, at that news.

I pleaded with her if I could decide over the weekend and let her know Monday morning. She agreed but emphasized that it really needs to be Monday morning.

I went home and told Michiyo the incredible news, but then realized that she was set to give birth to my first son in only a few weeks. How could I not be here, with her, for that. She didn't really know anyone in Hawai'i except for some friends and co-workers. Her mother was planning on coming over for the birth but didn't speak any English.

I called my father that night and sought his counsel as he was a Vietnam Veteran, a Marine and spent 31 years in the Corps.

He asked me incredulously, is that what you really want to do in life? INS Special Agents conduct investigations of immigration violations, drug trafficking, human trafficking and other kinds of dangerous work. He said, "Are you ready to leave for Georgia? You will be jumping out of helicopters. You are going to die..."

I was shocked and stunned at my father's words, yet they were just what I needed to bring me back to Earth.

He knew me, my Heart, my purpose, more than I did at times. I was still trying to find myself, my purpose, my self-esteem, and fill voids. Being a Federal Agent with a badge and gun was trying to fill some deep inadequacy within myself. A need for authority, for power, for security, because deep down inside, I was fearful. Fearful of being weak. I had gotten beat up in elementary school one too many times. 

He added, "Your are such a softy, you know you will be struggling with all the sad stories of people fleeing horrific lives for a chance at freedom. Can you really arrest them? You would want to lecture them and let them go. I know your soft heart."

He was right. I had a great job, that was emotionally, mentally and physically taxing, but brought me such Spiritual Peace of Mind, and was allowing me to give back to Ke Ali'i Pauahi for the education she gifted me.

My wife encouraged me to follow my dreams, but admitted she would be scared not having me around during my training. 

Thinking about her, and how much I loved her. She had given up her home, her community, her family, her country to come live in a far-away land, for me.

The decision became crystal clear for me.

So that Monday, I called INS and declined the offer. I was so apologetic and expressed humility and gratitude. 

I knew that that opportunity was once-in-a-lifetime, and would never occur again. It had been my dream job when I went to law school. I had actually applied for the FBI too but bombed on the math portion of their qualification test. Algebra II and Trigonometry just wasn't my thing.

So my son was due any day now, and I went to Maui with two-coworkers at night because early the next morning, we were going to wrap and prepare the bones of about 85 people who had washed out of a cemetery next to the shoreline and out of unmarked beach graves over a several year period.

We were going to wrap all day and at the end of the day, conduct the reinterment with the County of Maui.

We were sleeping in the hotel soundly when my phone rings at 2:30am. I answered, and it was my wife. She was frantic. Her water had broken. I couldn't believe it. Here I was, the one night I am on Maui and her water breaks. 

I had her call an ambulance and my co-workers arranged to drop me off at the airport at 4:00am and I waited for the airport counter to open. I had just bought my first cell-phone for this very purpose and sure enough, it was much needed. I was on pins and needles the whole time and talking with my wife constantly after she was admitted to the hospital maternity ward.

She gave birth later that night. My mother was able to fly in from Hawai'i Island and her mother had already arrived from Japan. Michiyo and her mother shared the excitement of riding in the ambulance to the hospital. It was my first child, I didn't know what would happen after her water had broken. I imagined the baby coming out soon after. I panicked and that's why I made them call the ambulance.

We all watched as this Beautiful purple boy emerged with an elongated alien head. It was Elliott.

My wife ultimately birthed me two Beautiful sons. We never had much family here with us so it was always just the two of us. We never had anyone babysit our children. We both worked. It was challenging. It was only us.

There were times when she finished work in Waikiki at 11:00pm and I, after my own full-day of work, would have to grab my one-year old and three-year old, who were fast asleep, and put them on my shoulders, then make it down to our van, trying to hold both of them securely, and get them into their car seats, then go pick her up and we would return home and repeat that again and again each night.

Finally, she had to quit her job to take care of the boys. We suffered with only one income. She sacrificed trips home to Japan to see her family. Our Dodge Caravan van was the ugliest car in the pick-up line at 'Iolani School. Missing hubcaps, and rusty dents. The look on the Principal's face was always hilarious when she drove to pick up Elliott next to all the BMWs and Mercedes. We felt like Sanford and Son.

Then when Koa was accepted to Kamehameha, we were elated. However I dropped them both off at two separate schools each morning, fighting traffic, and she picked them both up in the afternoon, again fighting traffic. Only when Elliott was Blessedly accepted to Kamehameha in the 7th grade could we drop off and pick up at one school.

I look back at our twenty-five years of marriage, and my twenty-six years of work for the Hawaiian Community. I signed up for it. The suffering. The sacrifices. She didn't have to. But she sacrificed so much for me, for our 'ohana, and for my choices in Life. 

I don't think this was the life she imagined in the Paradise of Hawai'i. I gave her an arduous life. 

Her Love for the Hawaiian Culture is profound. As is her kind and compassionate Heart. She would watch the DVR recordings of our son, Elliott, dancing on the Merrie Monarch stage over and over and over.

She is also incredibly strong. My time in the ICU in a coma and on Life-Support in 2012 was the most difficult time for our relationship. She almost lost me, and faced life in a foreign land, with two small sons, and wholly on her own. She struggled trying to keep the boys in school and our home functioning while she herself slipped into the deepest recesses of despair. 

She was so angry with me after that, as she drained my stomach tubes at home, for a week, only to have me readmitted to Queen's Hospital and back in the ER, and then back into the ICU.

I remembering grabbing her waist, as she was helping me out of bed to go back to the ER, and I squeezed and hugged her waist and told her how sorry I was to put her in that position and just cried. Almost leaving her alone with our two sons. 

We both sobbed and I realized that her anger was really fear. A deep fear of losing me which manifested itself in anger. It was then that I realized just how much she Loved me.

We have been through so much together in twenty-five years. Many hard times that brought us to the precipice of separation at times. But I would not let her go. I would not let her Father's dying wish dissipate in the entanglements and shortcomings of relationships and marriage woes under so many external pressures.

My work always brought me the worse stress imaginable and drained the life from me. She suffered for it. Yet, she still loves me and keeps believing that I am almost at the end of my work, my kuleana, my promises to the Ancestors, and life will be better soon for both of us and our sons, and my health will improve.

She has borne witness to the intervention of Ke Akua, Angels, Ancestors, Warrior Kings and Beloved Queens, Spirits in Rocks, and other Magical and Enchanted occurrences and messages which enhanced her own Spiritual Growth. She has come to Know my Greatest Teacher, Christ, as well.

She understands Hawaiian history, culture and values deeper than she could ever could have imagined. It was my Beautiful Gifted Friends who guided her through my 2012 hospitalization with 'ike and guidance from the Spirit World that kept the threads of Hope alive for her that I wouldn't die.

So for every good deed I have accomplished in the past twenty-six years for our Beloved Lāhui, she equally deserves the credit. This Samurai-Warrior-Princess from Japan. Her Quiet Dignified Strength. She deserves all the credit for my son's academic fortitude and successes. She always demanded the best from them and worked so hard to give them the Best Chances in Life. While I covered our Souls in the Divine Grace and Protection of our Creator.

And while I Love everyone in this Amazing Life, and there are even those who have managed to ensnare my Heart...

Michiyo, my Beautiful Amazing Wife, Simply Truly is my Heart...

Happy Anniversary. I Love You...

Always and Forever...

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