Relating to Death

This is an excerpt from my book.  You can see part of the draft here.  Stay tuned for more clips and updates.

Relating to Death

Note: this is the heaviest section of the book so I am giving you the disclaimer.  It aches me each time I worked on it and edited it.

Death is very real.  It happens to each one of us and none of us can know when.  Think about it.  One can never know, if, how, or when.  Our technology affords us to figure out most, if not all the whys, the causes, but the rest, who knows.  So why do we worry?  What are we going to care about the why it’s over when we die?  Exactly, so why do we worry about Death.

I have no fear of my own Death.  I have had some experiences where I feel totally connected and in the way that I view it All, I feel the Soul lives on.  That’s not to say I have a Death wish, I just accept it at this point, accept it’s a possibility, I allow it, rather than be scared of it.

There are a great number of things I do not enjoy about Death.  I can celebrate that it is a passing, a transition, but I don’t enjoy many parts of it because the great sorrow that comes with Death.

I really Love people.  Even though I believe that the Souls are just going back to the Universal Ocean of Eternal Energy, I feel a whole range of things that pop up when you lose someone you Love.

Encounters with Death came early on in my life.  I remember being but a child and playing in my Grandma’s backyard in Kaneohe on the Windward side of Oahu.  The yard was super lush and had a huge stone stairway leading down into the brush.  It was like going off into another world as a kid as it ended up by a river.  As kids we loved to play out there.  One afternoon, my cousin dared me to kill a fish in my hand.  I’m guessing that he didn’t think I would do it, based on his response of shock after.  I didn’t even think twice about it myself, I just crushed it in my hand.  I remember feeling so bad, like I had just destroyed something special and what place was it of mine to do such a thing.

As I grew older, I learned that my Mom’s brother had died when she was just a kid.  Death was a big thing for her early on too.  The pictures of Uncle Patrick looked just like me.  I often wondered if I was him before when I was still in small kid time.  I didn’t know but I had felt like I had been here before even though much of it didn’t make sense.

I don’t remember too many instances of Death as a child beyond that but the respite was greeted by Death as it followed me throughout High School.  There were so many kids who passed away.  Our school, St. Joseph High School, was very small.  I grad with “The One, The Great, Class of ’98” and we were the largest class in years with a stacked 54 students.  Our class motto was “Taste the Rainbow”.  I know, what the heck does that mean?  I remember this couple year period where “Sent From Heaven, Class of ’97” had a student die each year.  Our school was so small and family oriented, and years later I can say that it was a great place to be.  Death was shocking in a small tight-knit community.  I felt bad for those families.  I remember one young lady’s passing and her boyfriend’s tear-felt statement during a service at school to honor her.

Death would strike after High School as a friend, Keenan, had a younger brother pass away.  That one blew me away.  It was one of the few times where I even saw my Mom cry.  It really rocked the Hilo community.  He was just a little kid and close to a thousand people came to pay their respects.  His family treated it as a celebration.  Yeah, there was great sadness but they honored Colin like a little hero.  They had the coolest set-up with elements of his life on display, including pictures, and some things like his bodyboard, a soccer ball, things that he loved during his short life.  He was a cool kid, awesome soccer player, and during the service they shared a story about how he saved someone previously while out surfing. A young kid saving another’s life.

I cried when the words were said about the love he had for his two brothers, “Quinn was his best friend, and his oldest brother, Keenan, his idol.”  Keenan had been away for a bit and hadn’t been home and that killed me, that he didn’t get the chance to say goodbye.

And how many of us really do get a chance to say goodbye?  I never got to say good-bye to Keenan who would pass himself in a car accident when I was 24.  It’s the one Christmas I decided to stay away from home for the first time and it’s the one where I really wished I was there.

The next year a college friend, Clinton, from Hilo, whose older brother, Bronson, was someone I looked up to in High School, would pass.  He was young and in crazy shape.  He was a boxer and I remember one summer lifting with him and he gave me some dietary tips.  Clint passed in his sleep the night of his birthday, 20 something, strong like a bull, and Death got him with sleep apnea like a sucker punch.  The tear-felt address his other brother, Leroy, gave tore me apart.  My girlfriend at the time, it was one of the only times I felt really close to her.  I really appreciated that despite our differences that she was there for me in that instance.

Our relationship was a roller coaster and it was not the best.  I send her great respect because she put up with a lot with me.  Every woman I’ve dated has but she had it kind of bad.  Well so did I, but that’s the mirrors we were.  Death would not only kill our relationship but it would creep in after we were broken up for three months.  We found out she was pregnant and would have a miscarriage pretty quickly after we found out.

I was devastated by that small Death.  I really loved her but we were such a horrible match.  I would have made it work if we had a kid.  I always wanted to be a Dad.  Don’t know why that is.  In that situation, I had mixed feelings and I felt like it was my fault that she miscarried, maybe if I had my shit together, all of it would have been okay.  We’d get a dog to fill the void and that caused an extremely odd situation to play out.

Both my Grandathers passed away, one when I was 22, the other when I was 30, interesting to me in that their passing both came before a big spiritual push in my life.  At 22, I discovered Muay Thai, started learning about Buddhist philosophy, mindfulness, and meditation.  At 30, I submitted to the Great Unknown Creator, God, whatever you wish to say, the Grand Oneness because as I said, I think it’s really all the same.

Watching my two Grandfathers pass, both because of cancer was nuts.  They were Iron Men.  Papa Kenny and Old.  Funny how we name Grandparents.  My Grandmothers are Gran and Gran’ma Edie.  Gran’ma Edie we call Grandma.  So I guess in some ways, she got away easy on the nicknames.  It was nuts though to really see both succumb.  When Papa died, the only thing I could say was “Thank you.” I had great appreciation but it rocked me in a different way.  It rocked me because I felt so bad for Gran.  They really represented a deep love to me and I knew Gran was going to be hit hard.  They just had a connection.  Shoot seven kids, you do the math, there had to be fireworks.  Before his passing, Papa went around and cleaned up after himself and left Gran notes on how to use the computer, VCR, and other things.

When Old passed, that was really hard.  Old also known as Dirty Harry, Budd, and a host of other nicknames I’m sure, had so many stories.  Really cool to me because I never heard one twice.  My Dad had but not me, maybe cause I was Young.  That’s what he called me, Young.  When Old passed, at first he didn’t want to shake my hand because he had been diagnosed earlier with cancer and was battling a case of pneumonia.  He didn’t want to get me sick.  I was bummed, I really wanted to shake his hand.  He had one of those crazy grips and that last handshake would mean a lot to me.  He eventually did shake my hand and his last words: You remember, Young.  You remember.

A day before Old passed my relationship with the woman I loved died.  I had just realized a few days earlier, while home saying good-bye to Old, that I wanted to marry her.  I always knew I wanted her to be the mother of my children but it was those few days prior that I put the words into the ether.  Yeah, that was brutal.  It’s okay, I’m over it because it has shown me, me.  I’ll always love her and have not met another woman I’d want to have children with yet but I’m still Young.

As that whole thing played out, I felt a great deal of pain, as though I was dying.  It was definitely a transformation.  I like to think the time after was a rebirth but still yet a lot of dying had to take place in me.  I sorted through a great deal of things.  Went across the country from Hawaii twice praying for and honoring a series of nocturnal dreams that charted the way along with reading some “signs” and trusting my intuition on where to go each step.  In fact, this book is one of two I was told to write in a dream and is a way for me to honor that.

Before the relationship ended our pet Snacks had died.  That was a bummer.  He was the King of the Rats.  He was also hairless.  Not bald, but hairless, as in without hair.  Snacks was cool.  I got him for JOY because she wanted a hairless cat and I wanted a hairless dog.  He was a good compromise.  I found him the day I was honoring another dream that in a way had to do with another small death in my life, moving to a different place to train.  I had some cool friends where I trained before there but things were not the same for me when my Coach left, so I had to go.

With Snacks’ death, a bunch of my selfishness died.  I saw how not putting communication and giving love freely first got in the way of things as JOY and I had a fight the night he died.  It was right around the time of my birthday.  We had another rat, Dumbo Spot, die on her birthday.  There was a lot of death building up in our lives.

The worst was the gradual death of our love.  I mean, I’ll always love her because it was the greatest love I ever experienced, it still means a lot to me, and I feel like she’ll always love me, it couldn’t have been one-side in feeling.  Not a love of that intensity but I don’t know, we don’t talk, so I can’t live for her validation of it.  But man it killed so much of me, still does, I can’t understand this world where two people so in Love don’t work out.  I want to believe Love is enough.  Unfortunately, not in this world, not the way it is right now anyway.

When Snacks died, I should have known that the end was near.  It is so odd for me to write about this.  Because for so long did I refuse to look at the possibility that she and I would never get back together.  Who knows, it could still happen or not.  I’m cool either way because I am enough as I am, with or without anyone.  The gradual death was one of the hardest things I had to go through.  I’ve never loved anyone so much.  That last line still drew some small tears from me.  I guess the intensity of all of that weighed heavy, so heavy, I had to let it go.  If anything, I realize I’m going to die someday so no sense in holding out for what’s no longer there.

I had an experience of the creepy variety with Death once.  I awoke in the middle of the night and caught the smell of something quite smelly coming from outside.  No, I didn’t wake myself with a nocturnal emission of gas.  It was a smell that smelt of decay, rotting.  My intuition peaked and I immediately heard the message: The smell of Death.  Yeah, that was a trip.  It came on the tale end of a hectic period of dark energies entering my space and well it would conclude with another message: Death stands at bay.  It has claimed your body.  Your Soul, the others wait to see what you choose, Light or Dark.

I think the choice of balance is realizing that it’s one foot in both, the Light and the Dark together, and we each are the balance of the two opposites bringing it all together.

Death has been all around and it even claimed another one of my friends at an early age.  This one was the hardest experiences that I encountered with Death.  It floored me because I was already a veteran with Death, or at least I thought.

This is about the Death of an amazing friend, Praise.  Every time I start to write about it, it brings me to tears (every time I edit, shakes fist at the writing process, joking to try to find the humor amidst such a tragic ending).  I’ve never had this happen with anything else other than the death of my relationship, the loss of JOY in my life.  And I think it’s safe to assume that you’ve figured out that I have cried.  If you haven’t, you didn’t read very closely.  It’s a pretty healthy thing to do.  I write that because I paused to think about why some things really drive me to tears.  I wanted for so long to be numb to my feelings, to not care, but because of my intuition, I could always feel what others were feeling, I didn’t know the experience that they had but I could understand the feeling because I felt it.

In the case of Praise, I learned of her passing the night before Easter.  I went from shock to sadness to utter dismay to sadness again to questioning how much of a friend I even was to the whole nine yards basically.  Praise’s passing shook me to the core to say the least and it haunts me every day.  I think about her often, she’s the inspiration for this short book on life because that’s short too.

Praise was an amazing Human+Being.  She was one of those people who you instantly had a connection with.  She had such a great memory and loved this one summer we spent at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  I was her RA and she was here on exchange.  I dated one of her friends, Mahea, briefly, but I was so knee deep in my self-loathing that I couldn’t really be present in the relationship.  Mahea would be the one who told me about it.

I’m a huge believer in synchronicity and I had been seeing Mahea with increasing regularity.  She drove by me on the road one afternoon along Monserrat as I was walking.  Another day, I would see her across the street.  Then one Saturday, the day before Easter, I began to Google “Inner Peace” and Praise’s blog popped up.  It made me think of Mahea and that whole experience and I recalled my last conversation with Praise.

My beliefs were scattered when I called Praise in July.  I had just experienced the roughest break-up in my entire life.  Like literally, I was torn in half.  I had seen Jessica in a vision during meditation after praying and listening to the words of my Heart: I want to share my life with someone.  I thought surely she was going to be my life partner.  I was devastated and felt like God or something was up there talking to me, urging me to make a change in my life and I could see why.  I talked good game about living fully but I failed to do it.  I took so much for granted.  If anyone would have something to share it’d be Praise, who believed deeply and lived life fully.

I was always pretty spiritual and so was Praise.  She was Christian and had very, very strong faith.  We kept in touch and she was always so steady, so solid, and me, I was like the tides, high and low regarding my faith.  She saw me in all these different incarnations and through so many battles.

Praise was always so steady, I cannot stress that enough.  She had liked my friend, Tim, in college and they had a weird connection.  I know she had some trouble with that but she still kept such a solid faith.  It was admirable.  If anyone could appreciate my transformation and solidification of believing in something greater, though different than her views, it would be Praise followed by a close second to my friend, April Pope (Ape), and my former boss, hanai Dad/Uncle, my friend, Henry Adaniya.

I had lived with Henry for about a month and had kept in touch with, had seen Ape when I was honoring the dreams across the country, so they both knew what was going on with my spiritual transformation.  They even saw my physical body transform as it seems to change and release every day, more and more, as I allow my Soul to breathe in more deeply.  It was cool to share that experience with them because they had seen me in such low points as well.

But I was not able to share that with Praise.  I am unable to share any of this with Praise.  Unable to share anything with her ever again.  And that was tough.  It is tough, every day.  I have seen a lot of people come in and out of my life and she was a great presence.  I had known her much longer than April and Henry and she had seen me through so much more.  That last time we spoke she said she would pray for me.  And that made me feel better.  It did because she believed so much.  My faith was very unsure still yet, but her solid belief in what she was doing was a blessing to me that day.

So I ran into Mahea twice the same day that I found Praise’s blog on Google, the first time she was in conversation with someone and the second time alone waiting for some food, I tripped out to say the least.  I live my life these days by paying attention.  My teacher says to follow the string and I viewed seeing Mahea so much as a sign, I knew we had to talk with one another.  She immediately asked me if I had heard about Praise…

Shock.  Shock comes with sudden deaths.  It’s usually rougher when people are young.  It is shocking anytime someone dies suddenly but we always rationalize it for older people.

“He had a long life.”

“She’s in a better place.”

Sadness. Sadness rolled in right after shock.  It was like they changed shifts really quickly and all of a sudden I was overcome by the Sadness.  The tears came.  These tears reminded me of when Snacks’ died because when I held his little lifeless body, which once ran and climbed everywhere so freely, I felt all the tears flow that I had held in for so long and thought all about how it killed me that Jessica and I were not working out, that our communication was dying, of all the areas I had not lived up to because I couldn’t.  I knew better but I hadn’t found that place of love within to be able to actualize any of what my Heart knew.

The same with learning of Praise’s passing, I thought of all the last encounters that I had had with the people that mattered most to me and questioned if I had lived it as fully as I could have: If I could have shared anything more, if I had been present for that person.  I thought of Praise and her prayer for me.  I wrote a poem and a blog.  I realized how valuable she was to have because so many, many times I had no faith and to have someone there who did, was reassuring.  I saw how strong she was and how she was always able to be strong for me.  I had often felt so alone going through things but people like that, messengers, winks of the Spirit, were so powerful in my life.

Praise was just like anyone else.  She had troubles.  But faith was her trump card.  And there I was, I could finally relate and if anyone could appreciate my spiritual journey to the “Mountain of the Lord” and man, now that person was gone.  As a believer in mirrors, I realized that when I found out about her passing I was in a place where I no longer needed my mirror for unwavering, unyielding, faith, for inner strength.  It was bittersweet.  I looked at my journal entries around the time she died.  They all discussed faith, even contained a conversation with my neighbors Lianne and Jay because I was in Hilo at the time.

That’s another Death, the Death of my family home being in Hilo.  Lianne and Jay were among the first three sets of families living on Hoolaulea Street.  My family was the other family.  Lianne would talk to me about her brother and his fight with cancer, how life was short.  Jay would tell me to have faith, that it was all by design.

So long had my journey been, and the time had come.  I felt like I had finally arrived.

For so long had I felt late to an important meeting and time.  That was arriving to the now, with faith inside, my hand on my Heart, both leading, and in so doing I was finally able to accept life, through its ups, its down, and see that I was still okay.  I was sad, destroyed by such a development but it intensified, it burns so deep within my own inner fire to live fully because I see now, I can relate to the feeling of how imminent Death can be.

I called my Grandma, my Parents, and even my brother (I spoke to his voicemail) later in the day on Easter.  It was an interesting process because I had already allowed myself to go through it alone for awhile, something I had never done before.  When my relationship ended, I called every person I knew, and Praise’s death rocked me even more than that.  Relationships come and go but the end of a life happens only once.

Every day, every moment since, I’ve been conscious of Death.  Not afraid but aware that it really is with me.  Man, if anything, I’m going to treat Death like it is my best friend.  I know Death will be there for me in the end and it’s been around my whole life.

9 thoughts on “Relating to Death

  1. Jason, so strange… I saw that today is your birthday on Facebook (happy birthday!) and remembered your blog. I thought I’d scroll through and see what adventure you are presently on. When I found this post about Death and about Praise’s death it brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t realize you didn’t find out right away. It is such a great loss, and I still struggle with missing her terribly. I think about the things I’d have told her — things she already knew, I’m sure — if I had known we’d never get to talk or hug or laugh together again. I hope you are finding peace. Thanks for remembering her so eloquently.



    1. Hey Maggie:

      Yeah it was quite surreal in how I found out about the whole thing. It taught me alot as I had been digesting alot of what had been transpiring in my life. The timing of it all for lack of a better word was Divine. Thank you for the birthday wish and for checking this out. Thank you for reading that far as well, it’s kind of deep in there. I know Praise is out there smiling on us in some way. Take care and many blessings to you.



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