When Motherhood Hurts

Luke 2:51: “And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.”

I didn’t expect motherhood to hurt so much. My children are now ages 15, 13, and 4. Tonight, I was putting my daughter to bed, watching the moonlight slowly wash over her body, and thinking about how blessed I am to be a mother. And yet, the memory of my own mother, bridging these bittersweet moments, made my heartache even deeper for the time we never had.

The last time I saw my mother was in mid-December of 2020. I had learned that my step-father had passed away the month before, and I received my first phone call from her in nearly 7 years. I can’t begin to describe in detail how our relationship came to be that way in this post, but it’s something I had to come to terms with all my life. She did things her way.

I thought it was hard to see my Dad on the streets, but meeting my mother for that first time, knowing that she had never met my daughter, her granddaughter, just broke me inside all over again. But that day we met wasn’t about me. It was about my role as a bridge to deliver my step-father’s ashes, her former husband and partner, back into her arms. I was afraid to do this alone.

My husband stayed back to watch our youngest, and I asked my oldest son if he would join me. He agreed. As we parked the car and walked over to Liliha Bakery, I felt unsure about bringing my son with me. What if this was to much for him? Maybe I should just have him wait at the car? As we approached the front entrance of the bakery, I told him it was alright if he wanted to stay further away.

No Mom, I want to stay with you,” he responded.

I noticed a woman sitting outside the front entrance, her back turned towards me, wearing a straw brimmed hat, short gray hair sprouting out from underneath. She looked so small.

I walked up to her, and softly called out, “Umma?”

She turned around, a mask covered her mouth and nose, and her body responded to my call. It was my Mom. She looked into my eyes and the familiarity of her face brought tears to my eyes. I fought them away, reminding myself that the reason for her call wasn’t because of me, it was because of my step-father.

I closed my heart.

“Mom, I have him here,” I said. I opened up my bag, gently pulled out my step-father’s ashes, and placed him in her hands. She pulled him into her chest, held him, and started to cry. I didn’t know what to do except say I’m sorry.

I looked down, avoiding her eyes, and quietly took in the moment by listening to her pain. I noticed my Mom’s feet. Her heels were dry, white, and cracked. Her toenails appeared to be yellowing, split, dark specks on her big toenail.

I felt my heart breaking again.

She had always been so careful with her feet. It reminded me of those days when I would sit with my Dad on the streets, noticing the pain he wore on his feet. I felt the pain for my Mom at that moment, wishing that our past and circumstances could have been different, as if I could have somehow prevented it.

I looked up and she was starting to calm down a little. She asked how my family was doing, and I looked over to our side, where my son was standing about 10 feet away. He must have known to give us space. My Mom asked who that was, and I responded, “That’s your grandson.”

I waved at him to walk over, nodded, letting him know that it was okay to come. We both watched him walk towards us, and my Mom couldn’t believe how tall he had gotten. He was a young man. The last time she saw him he was just 7 years-old. I could feel my heart pulling inside of me, seeing the two of them in the flesh at the same time.

She looked up at him. And then she looked over at me and asked, “Is it okay if I give him a hug?

I couldn’t hold back anymore. I cried out, “Yes, of course you can.”

She leaned in and wrapped her arms around him. I wished so badly that my Mom could have been more present in my life. I wished she could have been more stable, so she could experience the deep love, kindness, and nurturing devotion that comes from our family. I prayed to God for a family ever since I was a little girl, and it hurt so much that my own parents couldn’t be a part of it. It hurt that I had to leave a family, to be in a place where I could build my family.

Becoming a mother hurts. As we began to say our goodbyes, in those short minutes that we were together, I watched her as she walked away from me and my son. When I was little, I could never hang-up the phone on my mother. I always wanted more time, more love, more affection, more attention, more of her. I feel like I never got enough of her in my life.

The further she walked away from me, the more my heart began to rip open, and I felt all 35 years of my life as her daughter, come crashing down on me. She was leaving me again. I wanted to fall, but my son saw right through me. And he turned to me, caught my eyes, and held me in his arms. He said, “Mom, it’s going to be okay.”

As we stood there together, watching my Mom, his grandmother, crossing the street, she turned her head one last time and nodded. It felt like she was setting me free. I wasn’t just her daughter anymore, I was a mother of three. And that is who I am today. My greatest joy and blessing has been building a family with my husband, and being able to look back at all that pain, and remembering that God heard my prayers when I wished with all my heart for a family.

Big hugs,


The Future

“In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.”– Deepak Chopra

It’s not the end, it’s just the beginning. People ask me all the time, “So, how is your Dad?” I’m not always sure what to say, mostly because the person asking me is usually someone I am meeting for the first time. It’s so personal. It’s amazing how the story has continued to touch people’s lives, and is still shared today. It makes it worth it, to get over the awkwardness of reviving a personal piece of the past with a complete stranger.

I can’t say it’s the same for my Dad. He gets the same comments, the same questions, except it’s even more personal — “How are you doing?” And that’s not always as easy for him. I am so grateful that he is in a better place today. As I reflect on what it means to really have a “second chance” at life, I am aware that some things have to stay in the past for us to truly move forward. That doesn’t mean we forget it. It just means that we may need space to grow from it.

I hope that the stories I shared with you have helped to humanize the lives of those who live on the streets today. It is so deeply personal and sensitive. In each person is a story of struggle, hope, and love. People have asked how they can help, what they can do to make it better.


Exercise your own personal compassion, in whatever way that looks/feels. The willingness to help and care for someone is personal, and there are many ways to help. And for some, the exercise of personal compassion could mean that you have to stay away because it hurts too much to be close. That is okay, too.

I’m not sure what the future holds, but I’m looking forward to it. One thing I do know is that I’m grateful to all of you who have shared words of encouragement and support during my darkest times. It has meant so much to me, to know that I was not alone in this. Thank you… truly. Now, let’s get back to living life to the fullest, embracing the challenges that come, having the strength to be vulnerable, and moving forward fearlessly and courageously. Ready? Get set… go! 😉 Sending you my warmest, biggest, wrap-around hug!

Big hugs,


#hope #faith #love

Gratitude in Everyday

“It isn’t in my past. It’s in my everyday.” – Helen Wilson

There are days when I feel like I’ve got a good handle on myself, and other days when I’m not so sure. Life is not hard right now. From the outside, looking in, things are actually better than they have ever been. I have so much to be grateful for… and that’s just it. I’ve been trying to ignore and suppress the fact that I don’t really feel like myself, even though I know that things are good.

My Dad is doing great. What does that mean? It means that he has a roof over his head, he has friends, he loves his hot cup of coffee in the morning, and he has clarity. He is well enough to travel abroad… can you believe that? He lives a minimalist lifestyle, and it works for him.

And I… feel as though what I’ve really been feeling is so insignificant in the span of all things that have happened. I have a hard time seeing people on the streets. I didn’t before. Not in the same way. Before, I felt like I wanted to help, that I could help. And now, I’m not even so sure what I feel. I feel sadness, a sense of defeat, irritable, and wonder what happened to me. The memories keep repeating itself in my mind. I’ve tried to write about it, but then I stop because it just takes me back to a place I don’t want to go anymore. I am trying so hard to move forward, but everything in my present keeps reminding me of the past.

I feel like I can’t escape it sometimes. I know that my Dad is good. I’m not sure where my Mom is exactly, but that isn’t any different from the past several years. I have accepted that. So what’s going on? I don’t know. All I know is that I have been avoiding myself, this part of me, this part that people seem to identify with as someone who did “something” to help. And I don’t know how to help anymore.

Driving down South King Street, walking down Keaaumoku Street, stopping at the light and seeing a woman standing at the corner… seeing their feet. It haunts me. Their feet… I always look at their feet. I am trying so hard to move past it, to be happy, to be present, to embrace the fact that my Dad is okay. But not everything is okay. And it eats away at me. I get that same feeling in my throat just from writing this. The same feeling I had when I saw my Dad on the corner of the street, when the lady told me to “not bother, because he has been standing there for days.”

See, it seems so trivial. I feel like it’s trivial.

Years have passed by, and I keep wondering when these feelings will go away. I have tried to write about it, writing was once my therapy, but I can’t seem to get myself to feel connected to this form of expression. Not in the same way.

I know it’s going to be okay. My family is good, my health is good, my Dad is good… it will be okay. And I continue to feel grateful for the fact that there are many people in our community who care, and work towards helping those who are on the streets. I wish I could do more, but right now, I’m just trying to get to a space where these memories can settle. I suppose I’m still waiting for things to heal — and it just takes time. I do wish I could do more, I just don’t know what more looks like.



Derrick – ‘Ōiwi na’u koko ha’aheo na’u koko

Derrick - Kapalama Canal

I met Derrick standing by a bench next to the Kapalama Canal. His deep tan seemed to glow against the reflection of the water.  The air felt clean and my skin was still cool from being at the news station for my morning interview. I glanced at him and made quick eye contact. He was busy talking to someone and our eyes met again — this time I waved at him. He nodded and smiled. I awkwardly introduced myself, almost interrupting their conversation, and sort of back-stepped towards a bench.

I could tell he was curious about me and my half-hearted attempt to say “hello.” I didn’t have any specific plan by being there. I had just left the news station from doing an interview on the Sunrise Show. I felt the pull to drive by the canal. Someone had mentioned that a one-mile fence would be built alongside this canal… another way to address the “homeless problem.”


So, there I was. I wanted quiet. Some “me” time. It is always emotionally draining to expose myself… to be vulnerable to a public audience, even if I’m just sitting under bright lights with a really warm reporter/human-being next to me. It was nice to be outside… a good break from where I had just been. I sat there alone, on the picnic table, and watched people come out of their tents. One lady was preparing her breakfast — it smelled like she was frying up some eggs and sausage. My stomach started to growl. I hadn’t had breakfast yet.

My attention came back to Derrick. His friend was gone and he was standing right next to me. Smiling, he asked what I was doing here.

“Here we go,” I thought.

I was honest. I told him where I had just come from, my journey, and my nervousness about sharing personal details of my life. He listened attentively. Layer by layer, I shared my hopes, my pain and fear. I mentioned how I felt so alone at times. And how I appreciate the quiet and solitude because it is a reminder that I, alone, will have to face my fears and manifest my hopes and dreams into reality. It’s that moment of pause we have in life that gives us the freedom to choose our next step.

Kapalama Canal

A one-mile fence will be built along Kapalama Canal to prevent homeless camps.

I went on to share my thoughts about the money that would be spent on building the fence. I explained my belief that helping isn’t always about spending money. As children, we are oftentimes asked if we want anything… if there’s anything we can buy to make them happy or feel better. And it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to buy a gift or a token of our appreciation. But it is the thought and intent behind it that truly touches the person… touches the child… It’s about love. People want to feel loved, to have someone listen to them and their feelings, and be held when they’re not feeling good. I’m not so sure that building a fence will help the situation.

He shared his own life story — how he had lived a life of incredible financial freedom at a young age. Derrick had money, lots of it, and he blew it all away on the “wrong things” in his early years. He remembers a time when he would drive by homeless people, scoffing at their circumstances and turning away from them — seeing them as failures in life.

My stomach started to growl.

I asked if he was hungry and his response made me laugh. “Girl, I am one Hawaiian braddah, I can always eat.” Thank goodness. I was starving. We walked over to the nearest Zippy’s restaurant and ordered rice, eggs, and portuguese sausage. He liked his rice the same way I did — colored with shoyu and tabasco. Perfect.

We sat by a big window and he shared more about his life and the new perspective and life path he was on. He enjoys helping people. Derrick reflected on a time when he had “everything,” yet he was incredibly unhappy with life. And now at the cusp of being 50 years-old, he has very little in the material sense, but has never felt more content. He is happy. He is learning to be at peace with himself, and being on the streets is part of that journey in helping him to get there.

The journey for Derrick is more spiritual than anything else. He shared the struggles of his father, his family, those who came before him… and at one point he lifted his shirt, revealing a tattoo across his chest that read:

‘Ōiwi na’u koko ha’aheo na’u koko

(Hawaiian by blood, proud by choice)

I grew up in Hawai`i, but cannot claim to fully understand the incredibly deep, interconnected, and enriching history and language of Hawai`i. However, I do have a deep respect for Native Hawaiians, like Derrick, who are part of an ongoing economic, social,  cultural struggle that threatens the cultural practices and way of life of Indigenous Peoples. For those who are interested in learning more, I highly recommend reading “Who Owns the Crown Lands of Hawai`i?”.

He explained that many people living near Kapalama Canal express frustration in wanting a subsistence way of life, but not having the option to. At the same time, there are many who are depressed and need a friend. I realized that Derrick and I were a lot alike in this way… Wanting to be a friend, feeling connected to ourselves by connecting with others, but also appreciating our moments of solitude to recharge and reflect.

I wondered if he was depressed.

I openly shared how, in retrospect, I was depressed while my father was homeless. And how I learned to deal with being alone, compartmentalizing the pain, in order to keep things together in other areas of my life. It was so hard, and I know I’m a different person because of it. I have grown, no doubt, but I have also learned how to approach challenging experiences as an opportunity for growth. And I don’t mind having to push myself… I’m accepting what it means to be uncomfortable.

“Kūlia i ka nu‘u,” he said.

(Strive to the summit)

Derrick acknowledged what I was sharing. I was revealing myself to him — a period of personal turmoil that I really hadn’t broken down yet. It was hard, but I got over it. And that’s really all that mattered. But he didn’t mind listening to the details, watching the layers unfold that morning, as I was fresh from just sharing my story live on-air.

A photograph taken by Derrick of me sitting by Kapalama Canal.

A photograph taken by Derrick of me sitting by Kapalama Canal.

I think he noticed the change in my mood because he abruptly changed my train of thought by mentioning his mother. His mother shared something with him at an early age, and he wanted to share it with me. He asked me to spell out the word “depression.” I said each letter out loud, slowly… Then he asked me to cross out the first “d”, the “e”, and the “i.”


press on

When you take the word “depression,” and you cross out those letters, you’re left with the words “press on.” If you don’t “press on” in life, then the three letters you took out spell “die,” and you will surely “die” because of your depression.

“So, Diana… press on, kūlia i ka nu‘u, strive to the summit” he said.

Yes, Derrick. I will. It has taken me over a week to write this post… I’ve held onto the strength and thoughtfulness of his words… of the life that is woven into his words… It means a lot to me, and now I’m sharing them with you. As I drove away that morning, I felt happier… understood, validated… I smiled knowing that he had helped me, and I had helped him. We saw each other and our hearts nodded quietly as I waved goodbye. It’s never truly goodbye, though. Deep down inside, I know I will see him again.

Wishing you all the best in the journey… until next time…



We live, we die… what happens between is largely up to us…

My grandmother-in-law and I share a smile after the panel discussion. She has played an important role in my life.

My grandmother-in-law and I share a smile after the panel discussion. She has played an important role in my life.

I just got home from participating on a panel to discuss the politics of homelessness and big picture solutions. I have to admit that my insight was very different from the other panelists. I had a very personal story to share and my “solutions” had more to do with the heart as opposed to advocating for one specific model.

The experience was both engaging and disengaging. On one hand I understand that part of the solution-making process is to consider the various opposing views, but I felt as if nobody was acknowledging that this was an issue of the heart. That there are very complicated feelings and personal experiences that can also be a barrier to assisting those on the streets.

As I listened to the various perspectives in the room, I felt this nagging pull to share my heart’s experience in watching my father’s life unfold on the streets. I abandoned all reservation and started off by sharing the view that this is about people. It’s about feelings, lives, wanting to be validated, and valued. I shared my initial feelings of guilt and embarrassment… hoping to shed light on why many families stay in the shadows. Their voices are so critical to this discussion.

There were a number of members in the audience who are currently homeless or have relatives on the streets. One woman shared her story of wanting to take care of her son, but not having the resources to do so. I could see and feel her pain. Another man, dressed very nicely in a white collared shirt and tie, shared that he is currently homeless. And another woman came up to me afterwards and shared her struggle in trying to find a place to stay because the folks at the airport are kicking them out.

They each have a story. I wish we had had more time so we could include them in the discussion. I would have loved to hear more about them and their struggles, so we could find a way to help. Throughout the discussion there was a lot of talk about politics and policies… models and frameworks and systemic approaches. All of it was relevant and I appreciate the efforts of those who were there today — whether it was from the standpoint of our tourism economy, our faith-based organizations, our state, and grassroots efforts.

When asked about ways to solve the issue of homelessness, I shared my view that this is just as much an “issue” of going inward as it is outward. What does that mean? Our energies are so focused on creating solutions that are measurable, worth funding, data driven, and we use words like “eradicate,” “defeat,” and “war” when describing our goals to address homelessness. I have done the same thing in creating a Kickstarter to fund my own efforts. But at the same time I know that nothing I do will “defeat” homelessness.

We are all doing our part and I believe it is important to acknowledge this. I have learned that acceptance is key in continuing on this road to help others. Sure — we can debate over and over again how money should be spent, or if this is a “good” law, if passing certain legislation criminalizes homelessness or if it’s really just compassionate disruption. It will go on and on and on. Whatever solution we end up with, I believe that it is important to accept that there is no perfect solution. We are doing the best we can.

As long as our hearts and minds are in the right places, and we’re really doing this to help the homeless (and it’s not just lining the pockets of middlemen), I think we should go with it. We can’t stop progress. We will continue to redefine our laws and standards… our expectations of what is considered the “ideal,” but I find an unusual peace in recognizing that nothing I do has to be perfect. There was a lot more said and I think someone recorded the whole thing, so you may be able to view it somewhere online. I cracked a few jokes, made people laugh, made a reference that I was like a “bobblehead” because I couldn’t stop nodding every time someone said something I agreed with. The good stuff all happened afterwards when I was able to hug the folks I knew needed it most — the mother who was in pain because her son is homeless on the Big Island, the well-dressed veteran who has a beautifully complex and genius mind, the woman whose eyes showed the depth of heart’s longing to be understood… and the panelists who acknowledged our “work.”

I was the last to speak and all of the panelists had such wonderfully substantive solutions that intrigued me. I wished I knew more about the actual processes of their fields. I felt a little embarrassed that my last remarks weren’t policy-oriented… I shared:

“There is no perfect world. We are born, we die, and what happens in between is largely up to us. We each have our talents, skills, and strengths… it’s up to us to use them to help others. And the most important thing I’ve learned from doing what I do is to validate the feelings of those who are out there, see them as people, and help them when you can.”