Memorial Day is important to us. Over the years, it seems we fight having a day about cookouts and camping trips verses remembering the day. This year has already been hard. I decided to stand in line with quite literally thousands of people to get a lantern for the Hawaii Lantern Floating. I think I always thought of Memorial Day as day of respect for those who served our country. The Hawaiian tradition is to honor all those who served and also to put flowers on the graves of loved ones. In 1999 the head of a Buddhist order here in Hawaii thought it would be nice for the community to combine traditions. Her idea was for everyone, no matter what their faith is to come together in a act of solidarity to say we support each other and honor loved ones who have passed on. This tradition has become a big deal on this little island. Last night we stood with 40,000 other people on one little beach. I have to say it was pretty amazing.
So, Mom arrived a little before two. We packed up and headed into Waikiki for an early dinner and walk to the beach. There was only enough room to cop a squat for each of us. I brought a blanket but by the time we arrived, we couldn’t even lay it out, we just had to sit where we could. And yes, Mom had just arrived and we decided to totally overwhelm here. Bless her heart, she just jumps right in to the deep end with us no matter how hard. She did have the option of staying home with the kids but we decided that it would be a nice thing to do together.
It wasn’t a completely solemn event. We managed to have a bit of fun in the middle of our grief. The kids played in the sand and made art from rocks they found. I was also handed and old rubber band and couple of cigarette butts they dug up. Little brevity in the moment…I’m pretty sure Tye wouldn’t have had it any other way. Actually, as mom pointed out, Tye wouldn’t have even been there. She leaned over and said, “You know Tye wouldn’t do this for either of us.” Yep. I’m aware. About five minutes in he would have been saying, “I’ll be over at the mall getting something else to eat. Just call me when you’re done.” No way would he sit on his butt in the sand for an hour waiting for things to start.
I got the lantern earlier in the day. They’re free and will eventually be fished out and refurbished for use next year. Before Grandma arrived, Ray helped me get and silhouette image of Tye training Gabe thanks to a text picture from a friend. I cute the silhouette out of vinyl and placed it on the lantern. The girls collected plumeria from around the neighborhood and strung a lei. We wrote the names of all our family to honor on one side and I let the girls write messages on the remaining side. One side was already printed with a message of love and peace for those who have passed. It was pretty special and something I hope they remember.
The event was being streamed on television and it was fixed so you could pull it up on a mobile device. Ray pulled it up on his phone. So many people were standing even with the giant screen you could hear what was happening but it was impossible to see. There were drums, hulas and blessings being said. Then it was time to walk down to the water. That part was a bit nuts with all 7 of us trying to stay together. Before it was over, I took the camera and the lantern into the water by myself. I waded out about hip deep and released the lantern.
The kids kept mentioning Rapunzel. There were lanterns on the water everywhere. I will admit to shedding a tear. This is something I clearly never truly expected to participate in this year. It’s just one more Tye will live on in our hearts.