I’ve known for quite awhile that the likelihood of having moʻopuna is pretty non-existent. Which has caused a huge ache in my heart. Especially as I watch most of my friends rejoicing when there are new, tiny, additions to their families. I look at their grandbabies’ photos and can be happy for them, but inside, I have really been hurting. It’s been really hard to hear the announcements that they have new grandkids coming.
When my girls were young I used to sew all their clothes. They picked out the fabric and we’d pour over patterns together, and the result was school dresses that they loved and that I loved making for them. I saved most of them in big barrels because they’d tell me, “Mom, please don’t ever throw away the dresses that you made for us because we want to keep them for our own little girls!”
I still have the clothes. They’re still in the barrels. I haven’t been able to bear getting rid of them. I am still in the grieving process. It’s not that I won’t ever get rid of them; I will. I will ask my niece if she’d like to have them for her little girl. But not yet; I’m not ready.
I long to hold a grandbaby in my arms and to know that there will be a continuation of our family. I cry at the thought that the things that I treasure will not be passed down to further generations of our family. There will not be, in all likelihood, conversations like, “Oh, this belonged to your grandma (or great-grandma) and she used it to make the best lemon meringue pies” (or knitted hats/scarves/socks) or whatever. Someday the things that I treasure now will end up in a Salvation Army bin.
I know. They’re just things. But they are part of my life, and just as now I can say, “Oh, this spatula belonged to my tūtū”, or “I bought this with my tūtū’s help when I was eight years old and was sent to the mainland to visit her”, I know that there won’t be stories like this when I am gone. There won’t be photos in an old, old, album, with generations down the road looking at who they came from.
This has been a very difficult grieving period for me. Sometimes I cry at the unfairness of it and don’t understand why some women get to have plenny moʻopuna and I don’t even have one. Ultimately I know that ke Akua sees the big picture, the one I can’t see, and I trust that he knows best. This comforts me most days, but this December I was having a particularly difficult time with the lack of grandkids.
A friend of mine told me about Compassion International; she had just gone to Bolivia to attend the graduation of the girl she’d been sponsoring for years. And ke Akua began to birth something in me. I began looking at the pages of the hundreds of keiki who were waiting for sponsors. I’d look for awhile, then go on to something else. And then I’d go back, looking for something, for a face that would call to me.
Like Mary, I kept all this in my heart. But what I thought was that perhaps by sponsoring a child in desperate need of kokua, it might ease the pain in my own heart. It wasn’t that I was doing it for myself only; I truly wanted to help a needy child. Because I speak Spanish, I wanted to choose a child from South America. I knew I wanted to choose a child who’d been waiting a long time for a sponsor and I knew I wanted to choose a girl who was in an area of higher risk for abuse and exploitation. I wanted to make a difference in her life.
One night, really late, I saw her. I saw a little face and I knew that she was the one I wanted to sponsor. By this time I’d told Nolemana about what I’d like to do, and he thought it’d be a good idea, too. I showed him the photo, and how how the little girl was “the one”, and I immediately clicked on “Sponsor This Child” and set the ball rolling.
All at once, I was filled with such joy, and I said to Nolemana, “This is the best Christmas present we could give each other”. It’s hard to explain, but knowing that I can help this little girl is helping to ease my grief.
I just got the packet telling me more about her, and I’ve already written to her (we can do it online and I did that the first time, but will also write snail mail letters).
So here she is: Liz Andrea from Columbia, South America. Not a moʻopuna by blood, but I think maybe hānai moʻopuna, yeah? The grief is still here, but maybe a little less sharp.