November 12, 2013

Longing For What Once Was

My cousin Kaleo died yesterday. 
Too early. 
Just like his dad.
1987ish. Kaleo is in back with the hat. I'm in glasses in the middle.
 Uncle Dayle was my favorite 
when I was growing up. 
He bribed us with black licorice
To gain that status.
We love licorice.
Mostly because it reminds us of him.

Uncle Dayle is buried not far from my Evan.
We say "hi" to him every once and a while 
when we're at the cemetery.

When Uncle Dayle died,
I had just turned 14. 
He was just 45,
Hit head-on by a vehicle sliding into his lane
On a snowy mountain pass.
It was my first experience 
With a family member's death.

Death and his good friend Grief
Taught me a lesson that winter.
That penetrated my soul.

The Bible describes hell 
With weeping and wailing
And gnashing of teeth.
It sounds awful 
But I imagine that it's probably embellished a little.

In school, I read about the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
And I questioned if people really went to a wall to cry.
That's what wailing is, right? 
Not so much.

Wailing has a unique appearance,
Individually tailored
To all who make his acquaintance.

To me,
He looks like my mother
Standing in the dining room
Answering the phone. 

The air turns thick,
We're watching,
Wondering what just happened.

She reaches for a chair,
Misses it
And crumples to the floor.

Wailing fills the room 
Like a Fire Engine
Crammed inside.
Siren blaring.
Bouncing off walls.
Picking up speed
As it goes 'round
And 'round 
And 'round.

I'm dizzy.
Where's the switch?
Or plug?
There's no way to turn it off.

A shock wave passed through us
The Fire Engine disappeared.
We're left drained.
No energy left to move.
No tears left to cry. 

Wringing our shirt sleeves
We find evidence
That our eyes and noses 
Have emptied
Kaleo's death is different for me 
I didn't know him like I knew his father.
When my aunt and uncle divorced,
She stayed in Hawaii 
With the children and her family.
He came back to the mainland to be near his.

Uncle Dayle and Aunt Jackie in the center. My parents to the right.

My memories of my Hawaiian cousins 
Start around the time of my uncle's death.
Sometimes I wonder 
About how life would be with more cousins.
Not new ones.
The cousins I've always had.
What if we weren't separated by time
And distance?

As I hear of Hanale sobbing
In the hospital
At Kaleo's bedside
Willing his brother to wake
From the coma
That held him 
My mind goes to other times
I've walked the same path.

Cutting deals,
For what once was,
For what life should be,
For what could be.
What isn't.

Young Kaleo and sister Lei

I want to renew our family bonds.
I miss my cousins.

1 Riveting COMMENTS:

  1. Bridget, what a beautiful poem you wrote. Uncle Dale's death really did hit us hard. I'm sad too that we didn't see our Hawaiian cousins very much and I didn't get to know Kaleo very much and now he's gone. It's so sad.


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