So last Friday was the annual Circle of Remembrance memorial held by the Kona Hospice. It takes place at Hulihe’e Palace, an absolutely beautiful spot in Kona town. The building itself has a lot of history for Hawaii, which I thought about a lot sitting there; the place has a lot of history for me personally too. Mike loved it so, so much down there. I can never forget that first time we were there together, Christmas of 2000 before we had even moved to Hawaii, and how much in awe we were of this spectacular location, taking the historical tour of the house and the fish ponds. This night, the waves crashing right there on the wall, the nearly full moon shining overhead, palm trees swaying in the breeze, made me feel like Mike was there with me, sharing in the love of this special place so dear to us both. I lovingly placed his photo on the table laden with candles along with all the others, proud of my legacy, and yet the ache of sadness was so profound, thinking I had now only photos, and not the live man to walk beside me.
The first year after he died I did not have the emotional strength for the event. A few widowed friends of mine declined the event this year, and I totally, totally get that. It can be very hard.
But I went last year. Last year I went alone, but ran into two widowed friends - something I was grateful for. This year it seems our terrible club, at least those I know personally, had grown, and this time we planned to meet. So I sat there in the row all filled with our little group, feeling very supported and understood in that moment. You all will know how much that means. Grasping hands and offering tissues. Smiling through our tears.
The event is lovely. A few people from the Hospice say a few words, a few words from a minister, a few songs sung, a few hula dances danced…then the recitation of all the names. All the names lost in Hospice, and all the names added to the list by those present in the community. I sat there listening to every name being read, thinking of all the families affected…hearing the occasional sob, seeing quite a few tears and tissues is used, but also quite a few smiles and hugs. As the name of our loved one is read we are welcome to rise out of our chair and walk over to the small pools to the side of the palace, take a flower from the basket and place it on the water. Such a small act, and yet, it seems to come with so much meaning and emotion.
And at the end, everyone - over 200 people as far as I could count - makes a big circle holding hands for a lovely prayer. A true circle of love and grief. I really am grateful for our Kona Hospice and the wonderful services it offers to our community. My therapist from the Hospice was there too; she who guided me through the roughest and most dangerous parts of my grief, still there navigating for us. I am indebted to her for the love and support I found…I will always, always, always, remember how she helped me find my way again…to know she is still here for me means everything.
And I am grateful for my fellow widows. As if I can’t say it enough…what a terrible club to belong to, and yet how wonderful to have such beautiful support.
Thank you to all of you out there. It has meant everything…everything, to share the understanding of a most terrible thing.