It’s soon coming up on five years since I moved to Hawaii. My husband and our daughter joined me a few months later as they made the transition from a Quaker learning community in Iowa to the land of Aloha.
So much has happened in those five years. My husband, at age 41, had a stroke and made a miraculous recovery. Our daughter, born with an extra chromosome, has held her own in one of the best public schools in the state. She is growing up, too quickly, into a tall, smart, beautiful young lady. At nearly age 9, she has now spent more than half her life in Hawaii. My husband and daughter have both become Buddhists. I’m still — and will always be — a Plain Quaker, but I’ve been fortunate to be included in the Buddhist community.
We’ve been embraced by so many people. My husband and I both work at the same school at the same jobs we began when we moved, a wonderful high school with Buddhist-based teachings and practices. Last night at a gala, our first date in nearly eight years, we met the woman who facilitated our moving to a home I found the second day I was in Hawaii, a modest and lovely plantation style house in a cul-de-sac where our neighbors are so close we can hear them sneeze! And we say, “Bless you!” In response, through the windows, they say “Thank you!” Fortunately, we all get along very well!
Just a few days ago, my husband and I spoke with the guidance counselor from our daughter’s school whom I called and met on my third day in Hawaii. Nearly five years later, he continues to give us guidance, hope, and better wisdom as we navigate what he and I both refer to as a marathon with all its highs and lows in raising a child with an extra chromosome.
So where am I going with all of this?!
I’m training for my 25th marathon with high hopes as I’ve completed the 24 I’ve done before. Yesterday, en route to meeting my much faster training partner, I passed a cemetery I’ve walked or run past at least a thousand times since we moved here. Something caught my eye and my mind.
Hours later, having finished 15 miles, I asked my husband and daughter to stop at the cemetery so I could take a picture for this post.
It’s so easy for days and years to rush by as you check off the daily and yearly lists: raising a child; navigating rewarding jobs; staying healthy even after — in my husband’s case — a stroke out of nowhere; keeping up with friends and family; getting to right places; keeping a tiny part of life like poetry or love of languages nourished; exploring faith; even making sure the laundry is finished and food is in the cupboard!
My mother once told me my grandmother sang with joy as she washed and dried clothes, that she was teased for this, but everyone understood it was because life — even in sometimes difficult circumstances — was thrilling for her!
And that is what I reminded myself when the angel caught my eye yesterday: Wait a second: I’m in Hawaii, about to meet a really good friend I met here before my daughter goes to her hula class and I run more miles, before we meet our babysitter so that my husband and I can attend a wonderful event with our colleagues and friends.
Aren’t we lucky? And is it only because of us? Call me crazy, and I have no idea how this might tie into Buddhism or Quakerism, but aren’t we surrounded by angels?
Maybe we just need to interrupt a planned run and acknowledge them sometimes!