Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 30, 2022

Hua 2022

Melancholy nights looking up at the night sky, waiting for the Hua moon phase to slowly advance over Hanauma or Molokai.

The higher it ascended, the more loudly the dogs would bark in succession in the Kaimuki neighborhood. Beginning from the houses near the fire station, the cacophony of man's best friends sounded off until it stopped on Esther street, near the school for the deaf and blind. Fear did not strike anyone who knew of this procession of female spirits, yet, there was a genuflection of reverence for them as they approached. None would look but simply lay themselves flat facing down. This evening, my mother passed in her sleep after a long bout with cancer. She lay in the living room because she wanted to die in a part of the house where life passed through in various forms. Us, visitors, extended family, well-wishers, and the like. She felt that dying in her bedroom meant that she may as well have spent her last moments on earth in a void of dark nothingness. We didn't know how much we loved and needed her. We didn't know how much she was a necessary truth when we were all fooling ourselves about matters concerning our personal lives. She was the light, sometimes warm and comforting, and at other times, stark and blinding. For as much as we thought we knew about the world, and as much as we thought we controlled all matters in our universe; when things fell apart, it was to our mother that we went. Gently knocking on her door and crying once she opened it, appearing to bask in an angelic glow when it was really the Indonesian lamp behind her. Now, here she lay as peaceful and beautiful as she ever was in life, content with completing this journey and moving on to the next. 

Tonight they will come to receive her, and she will join this procession of high-ranking, sacred wahine that no one could look upon because of their goddess status. Our mother came from this direct bloodline and never once lorded it over anyone or used it to call attention to herself. She didn't need to because there was always a natural elegance, a natural refinement, a nobility that caused people to conduct themselves as best they could in her presence. You felt as if you had known her for a thousand lifetimes when you first met her, and with her warmth, she disarmed you; before you knew it, you were laying your most intimate secret at her feet. 

In a moment, wails of grief and sorrow will ring throughout our home, which is to be expected. But, for now, I want to have these few seconds with my mother to tell her what she meant to me and how thankful and honored I am that she chose me to be her son. Then, I will lay flat on the floor when the wahine kapu procession comes to retrieve their sister. After, I will knock on each bedroom door to let my siblings know that our mother has gone. Our lives will be empty without her, and yet, we can share stories with our children and grandchildren as we all wait to show them the wahine procession once a month, on the moon phase of Hua.

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