Kealaola: The Path of Life…

After my last day of work Barry has a big dinner and celebration at his house – ahi tuna, grilled baby romaine and cheese, purple sweet potatoes, grilled pineapple and mango margaritas – all food that I couldn’t get fresh elsewhere than in Hawaii (too thoughtful)! Jess and I made a plan to go to Ken’s to bake some of my Hawaiian Avo-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and watch Harold and Maude. Everyone disappeared that afternoon and I had a clue where they all might be but I wasn’t sure (later I found they were out hunting and gathering for our fiesta later that night).

When we got to Barry’s everyone was lending a hand in my honor – I was extremely touched by such a gesture and that we could all be brought together by my leaving. I asked if I could help but everyone said I had already done enough – to put my feet up and enjoy the moment… and that’s what I did. I looked around me and felt a release of love and happiness – I felt so grateful to have met these people and come to this place… the feeling went beyond what words could describe. In that instant everything made sense…I felt alive.

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A little while later Meg brought up the game, “what’s your favorite JP moment?” and asked Barry… “Our walks in the morning around the farm put a smile on my face – I almost got teary eyed this morning walking around with you..” I felt my heart rise slowly up into my throat, I choked on the feeling and let the tears stream. I gave Barry a big hug. I realized then that I have more than one reason to go back to Hawaii – that they are my hawaiian ohana and because of that a piece of my heart would always be there. I looked at them all… “You don’t expect such greatness to happen to you when you come to a new place… but you guys have touched me deeply and profoundly…in ways that I just can’t explain…” Just after that Sand told me that in Hawaiian ‘Kealakekua’ means pathway of the gods and ‘Kealaola’ means the path of life. No wonder I felt so strong and alive.. I believed it.

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The rest of the night we decided to have fun and spent our time dancin’ and I even did the can opener for the first time. We got our limbo on and Manu (Barry’s 2 1/2 year old son) was asking for, “J.P…J.P…” I said, “I’m right here, Manu.” He took my hand and lead me to his room where he wanted to read a book with me. He pulled my favorite childhood book off the shelf, Richard Scarry’s, ‘Best Storybook Ever.’ I couldn’t believe it. We were reading for a little while when Barry came in to spend some time with us, “Aw, JP, you are so sweet.” I read with Manu until I was too tired to keep on… “Time for my rice bottle and pjs,” I said, “No time for my ricemilk,” he said. Easy enough I suppose. So I got him into jammies and grabbed his milk. I stuck him into bed with a book and a truck. I told him I’d see him tomorrow when he woke up.

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When I went back out everyone had gone except for Barry and Jess who were cleaning up a bit. Jess decided to stay over in the guest room since it was raining.. so we went over to the warehouse and brushed our teeth. It was my last night. It was sinking in. I wanted to stay up and be near Jess but I felt so tired and drained all of a sudden – I was hoping for a good nights sleep. I gave her a giant hug and held her close and long. I put on Luke’s rain jacket and headed up to my tent for the last time alone. The rain was appreciated as I rested my head upon the pillow, drifting in and out of sleep until I finally fell hard and awoke super early despite the fact that I didn’t have to work and could sleep in…

At 4:30 am I found Jess down there with her headlamp sewing up Luke’s farming jeans for me… “should have just slept together anyway, huh?” We laughed. Maybe our hearts and bodies knew that I only had a few hours left and wanted to make the best of it. As Jess said, “For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live.” She made me scrambled eggs and veggies with toast and it was divine… a most perfect way to start this long and strange day of goodbyes…

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