Monday, May 25, 2009

Where You're Going

Before Jason passed away, I wrote a song for him. I never had the guts to sing it to him, or to anyone else but my brother and his girlfriend. However, the song has served as such a strength to me in helping me cope with his passing, and I'm beginning to wonder if it would do the same for anyone else who has mourned his passing, or the passing of another loved one recently.

So here are the lyrics. Soon, I'll post a video of me performing it...

Where You're Going

Where you're going is beautiful
And the gift of knowing helps keep me whole
'Cause I know that one day I want to be
Where you're going

So will you please save a plot for me
Next to your place, or across the street
'Cause I know that one day I want to be
Where you're going

Promise me you'll wait
To usher me through heaven's gate
I'll meet you there one sweet day
We'll be together again

But until then, I'll do all I can
To be a good friend; I'll try to be as good a man
As you are 'cause I want to be
Where you're going

Where you're going is a special place
There's no crying, there's no sickness, and there's no pain
Everybody's happy to be
Where you're going

So promise me you'll wait
To usher me through heaven's gate
I'll meet you there one, one sweet day
We'll be together again

But til that time comes, I'm gonna live each day
As if it was my last one, and I promise to keep the faith
And walk as you did, 'cause I want to live
In that special place where now you wait
I would give anything to be
Where you're going
Where you're going

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Parable of the Chicken Pot Pie

Jason and I have known each other half of our lives. When we were 12 or 13, he moved from the beautiful islands of Hawaii to the overcast wetlands of Tacoma. Our families became close, and we told people we were cousins.

Then my cousin Sailau came home from Japan when we were 15, and she moved in with us. We became brother and sister, we grew so close during those years. So when she and Jason started dating, we had to make the adjustment from calling Jason our "cousin" to calling him "our sister's boyfriend." Complicated? Try explaining to people why your cousin is dating your sister!

Jason and Sailau were on-again, off-again high school sweethearts that became a beautiful wedded couple. They are so cute together, and watching them grow from teenage lovebirds to parents of 3 children has been entertaining and inspiring. Though their lives have had their own share of drama (like everyone else's), I've been so proud of how much Jason and Sailau have grown and matured as people, as a couple, and as loving parents.

Jason has always been very athletic, very vibrant, and very active. So when I found out that he had cancer, I was a bit shocked. I was even more perturbed when Jason started getting hospitalized. At first, I reacted the way I always do: I went numb, and I steered clear from the situation as much as I could. A month ago, however, Sailau called me, and asked me to come visit her and Jason at the hospice where he was staying. She sounded like she really needed some support, and it was on the way of an area I planned on visiting that afternoon anyway.

I remember walking into that room for the first time: there were only 3 people there: Sailau, Jason, and our cousin Christian. i awkwardly greeted everyone, and sat in a chair. We talked pleasantries for a while before we started making fun of the rich kids on an MTV show that was on. Time went on, and more of it passed by than I originally anticipated before I made a weak exit. They were very appreciative of my little visit, and though I felt anxiety from being there, I felt that I needed to come back again, soon.

I returned the next day, Easter Sunday. Much more of the family was there this time, and I remember feeling closer to them than I had in a very long time. We had a great meal and spent much time talking together, singing for Jason, and enjoying the company of loved ones. Because of my crazy schedule and my lazy habits during the few leisurely weekends I do get to myself, I had chosen not to spend a lot of time with my family, and I'd forgotten how good it could feel to do so. I think I was touched more that day by the love in that hospice room than I had been in a very long time.

I came back to visit Jason every single day after that. I found myself thinking about him and Sailau and the kids constantly while at work, at church, or wherever else I was. After work, my arms and legs would automatically drive me to that hospice house, and I'd visit that room full of love, and be filled by it. Other members of the family would visit daily as well, and we all grew to love each other so much through the service we rendered Jason and his family. During this month, I gained friendships with family I had either barely met or had never known. I saw people of all races, ages, and religious affiliations come through that room to visit Jason, and bond with everyone else there. It has been one of the most incredible phenomenas to watch unravel.

Jason demonstrated this phenomenon to me one afternoon during a quick visit I made before work. He was wide awake and aware, and was in a great mood when I walked into the room. I told him I was there for a quick pitstop, and he offered me food and drink before I lef, like any good family member would. I declined, having no honest appetite at the time. He sighed and told me not to refuse, and once again requested that I visit the kitchen to make myself a plate. I politely turned it down again, explaining that I was truly not hungry, and that I'd take another break soon for lunch. He started getting upset with me, telling me that he really wanted me to eat something, and that he was not kidding. He told me that there was a chicken pot pie on the kitchen table that he was not going to be able to eat, and that wanted me to take it to work with me. After insisting twice more, I finally obliged, and promised I'd take it to work with me. The rest of the family members there coaxed me on, reminding me that Jason really wanted me to do it, and to make him happy. After thanking Jason again, and reassuring him that I really did have the chicken pot pie with me, and promising him that I would eat it, I left the hospice house, and arrived at work 30 minutes before my next lesson would begin.

I remember sitting in the back room, and setting my things down. I noticed a sudden and slight pain in my stomache: I WAS getting hungry after all. I had been up for 4 or 5 hours, and had skipped breakfast. I looked at that chicken pot pie, and immediately thought of Jason. How did he know that this would happen? That I really would get hungry, and need that pie? Gratefully, I sat down and finished that pot pie in 5 minutes flat. It satisfied me more than a chicken pot pie normally would, because I appreciated it more today. To me, that pie represented the love and wisdom of a loved one who refused to back down, and who looked out for his own, despite my stubborness.

Over the next couple weeks, I saw Jason help facilitate growth, healing, and maturation in the lives of all of those around him. Looking back now, I am amazed at the things he was able to accomplish from his hospital bed. He helped mend rifts in relationships that had fallen apart over the last few years, bring together old friends who hadn't spoken in a long time, create everlasting bonds between strangers, release the positive sides of pessimistic people, inspire hope in cynics, and encourage the good in an otherwise cruel world. All through simple things like a forgiving word, a pretty song, or a delicious chicken pot pie.

Last Tuesday, Jason was called back to our heavenly home. At the young age of 25, Jason had already fulfilled his mortal life's measure. There's no doubt he was good at taking care of things in a timely manner; it was obvious how well he'd done that in the way he prepared his wife, his kids, and his family for his departure. Over the last month, Jason taught me a lot about life's biggest priorities: life well-lived before God and yourself, love everlasting that is grown and nurtured through family ties and bonds of true friendship, and the pursuit of happiness that is fulfilled by the measure of your granting it to others. All it took for me to learn this valuable lesson was the cost of gas to get to the hospice house, time well spent visiting my brother in law, and a chicken pot pie I'll never forget.