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.

Hugs,

Diana

Advertisements

A New Normal

“Growing apart doesn’t change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I’m glad for that.”
Ally Condie, Matched

Somewhere between then and now, we grew into our new normal… we found a rhythm that works for us. I feel really content with where we are, and where we are headed. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, maybe it’s because that little girl finally feels the comfort of having her Father. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I love our new normal.

Celebrating my law school graduation with my Father.

Celebrating my law school graduation with my Father.

Just last month, he organized a barbecue at Ala Moana Beach Park to celebrate my graduation from law school. It was the sweetest gesture ever. This was his first time planning a gathering for me. He made a few calls, invited some family members, and gave me specific instructions to bring sausage to throw on the grill. I asked if we needed anything else — a salad maybe? Some rice? Anything? No, he had already designated items to other family members. My job: bring sausage.

It was a beautiful day at the park. Our lives seem to continue crossing at Ala Moana Beach Park — the same park I’ve mentioned in other blog posts. The same place where I met my friends in the “Forest,” the same place where I rollerbladed as a little girl growing up in Honolulu, the same place where I reconnected with “Hobo Bob.” So it was befitting that multiple generations were collectively coming together on the very shores of my childhood, all invited by my father’s direction.

The sky was painted an incredible blue that morning, and everyone brought their appetite. It was quite a fiasco trying to rally all the family members back into one spot to get the barbecue going. The kids were in the water, one of my cousins was fishing with my father at the opposite side of the park, my husband was busy with the kids, and the other family members were busy getting things settled under the tent.

I decided it was a good time to figure out how to operate the grill. I’m a “go-getter.” To my half-sister’s credit, she was somewhat cautious about my approach in attaching the propane canister to the grill. Okay, so maybe I didn’t really know what I was doing… and it wasn’t a good idea to try to flick the igniter while attaching the propane tank — the switch was not a mysterious “lock” to get the tank to screw on.

Thankfully, my husband returned and knew what he was doing. Everyone started to regather around the tent and slowly started pulling out their dishes. We brought our sausage like we were asked. My cousins brought meat as well. And my uncle and aunt… brought meat and a massive tub of kimchee.

Nobody brought rice.

I started to giggle. My husband knew what I was thinking, but didn’t want to say it. Finally I broke the silence and blurted out, “A bunch of Koreans are at a barbecue and nobody brought rice… how are we supposed to eat?”

It was cute. It gave us all something to laugh about together. My father shook his head in disbelief. He went around the circle and asked if they were absolutely sure that he hadn’t asked them to bring rice. This was the first time he had organized a family gathering, and we were all just really proud and happy to be enjoying each other’s company — rice or no rice. I’m glad it happened though… it seemed to break the ice, and helped everyone to feel more comfortable. Who knows, maybe he planned that all along!

The rest of the day was beautiful… the water was perfect for swimming. My father wore regular khaki shorts and shoes. He didn’t have any swimwear with him. I was a little surprised that he would suggest coming to this beach park, and not be prepared to get in the water. And then it dawned on me… I had no recollection of seeing him in the ocean. I had no memory whatsoever of being in the ocean with my father.

How could that be?

We live in Hawai`i. We are surrounded by water. The ocean is such an important part of my life — a source of healing energy, a way to reconnect with myself and my spirituality. I had to take another minute to consider this.

We have to get into the water together.

It took several tries to convince my father that his shorts would dry just fine. We had a paddle board and I begged him to let me paddle him around. I literally broke out into what probably resembled an excited 6-year-old’s dance. I hopped up and down, clapped my hands, grinned from ear-to-ear, and pleaded with him…

Please, please, pleaaaase? Pleaaase? I’ve never asked for anything before! PLEASE get on the paddle board with me! You remember what I said about paddling and how it’s been such an amazing heeeealing experience for me? Pleeeeeaaase?”

I think he was enjoying every moment of my desperate whining. He quietly said, “If you keep pushing me, I won’t do it.” And then he flashed a grin. Okay, so I had to be more reasonable. I went to law school. Heck, I graduated from law school. I quickly adjusted to a new strategy…

Dad, we have never been in the ocean together… and who knows when we will have access to a paddle board again? I’ll be really busy studying for the bar exam, so we may not be able to do this again for a couple of months. This is a great time to make new memories!”

Hook. Line. Sinker. 😉

I watched our feet disappear under the sandy shores of Ala Moana Beach Park that morning. The water creeped up above our ankles and then our knees. We shared a smile, and I soaked up the warmth of his skin under my hands. We were connected. With a little encouragement, my father sat on the paddle board and I was able to briefly standup.

Beach Day

There must have been a little confusion about what was going to happen on the paddle board. I thought I was going to be able to “paddle” away with him on it — he thought he was just going to idly “sit” on the board… on the shore. His reaction was darling. As soon as he realized what I had intended, he gripped the sides of the board and jumped off as fast as he could. I was so close!

Even though we weren’t able to leave the shores that day, I am still deeply appreciative for that brief moment we shared as father and daughter. I hope we can someday explore deeper waters. For now, I am loving our new normal… I am loving these moments that continue to unfold with each passing day.

Wishing everyone lots of love and inspiration in this life journey. Hope you enjoyed being able to hear of another “first” I experienced with my father and my family.

Hugs,Diana