June 4, 2009

Godspeed, e Ku'u Hoa Aloha...

Kumu 'Anela...

God has a timing and purpose for all things, for those He loves, and when He calls them home. I know this; I have always known this, but that doesn't make it any easier when that time comes.

I sit here three years after our meeting, and you are gone.

You've kept such a deep part of me -- Ka 'Ōlelo Hawai'i -- the language of my heart. You were so kind and generous, dedicating your time and effort to students like me. You could've spent your time with students there in the islands with you. You didn't have to struggle through learning new software, bridging the wide gaps in culture, in time zones.... But you did, and it was a labor of love for you. How could I ever thank you enough for that?

You gave me the confidence to keep learning, to keep digging into ka 'ōlelo Hawai'i, even when I felt like I'd never, ever get it. And when I had the chance to meet you in Hilo, you didn't write me off like a stranger. You treated me like a friend. You took the time to travel where I was, to meet face to face.

I couldn't express then, and I can't express now what an honor it was to meet you. I felt accepted, encouraged, valuable. I felt that my learning mattered to someone, that I wasn't alone in my passion.

E ke kumu, now, it's possible for you to know how much love I put into your lei. It may have seemed like a silly thing to anyone else, but you know the importance of it. I have always cherished the lei you made for me, and I've understood the gift you gave along with it.

I regret I never had the chance to spend more time with you. But I have the lei. I have this photo. I have the memories of our lessons; our conversations; your warm, genuine smile. I recall exactly how it felt to be on that stage knowing you were there watching me and supporting me. How can I thank you for sharing in such an important moment in my life?

I have nothing to offer except my prayers for you and your 'ohana. Their pain is my pain, e ke kumu.

I do know we'll meet again. When, God only knows. But I'm looking forward to being able to thank you in person again.

Till then...Mahalo nui loa, e ku'u hoa aloha. Me ke aloha pau'ole...

Nā 'Ailina

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