Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Nov 21, 2022

Desmond 2022

It wasn't magic; it was love.

My grandson and I would sit on the roof of our home and watch as the mock orange hedges lining the driveway would bloom their beautiful fragrant flowers every evening. Mind you, ours was a very extensive, very long roof. On it, I would lay out a blanket and have cups of hot cocoa ready, along with finger-sized pieces of buttered toast for myself and my grandson to enjoy. We would sit there patiently, and the moment the flowers unfolded, there would be gasps of wonder and delight. I apologize for taking this long to introduce him, but my grandson's name is Desmond, like the song about Desmond owning a barrel in the marketplace. See? Now you get it.

He's at the tail end of preschool and will start kindergarten next year. He's growing up so quickly and is curious about everything and everyone. He's filled with many questions, and I try to answer as many as possible. But, mostly, I just laugh with delight at the innocence of his curiosity. Yes, it's unfiltered, but what child isn't at this age? He likes the little marshmallows in his cocoa, so he takes his time drinking them. He tries to get every piece before it melts into the cup of hot chocolate and disappears. I love how his little chubby fingers hold onto the buttered toast. Even the way he chews his food makes me chuckle. Desmond brings me peace and makes me smile without having to try.

One evening with the blanket set out, the hot cocoa ready to go, and the pile of little marshmallows in his cup, Desmond sat there, silent. There was something on his mind. When the mock orange flowers unfolded and bloomed along the hedges lining the driveway, there was no cheer of excitement on his face. "Is everything okay, Desmond?"

"What does die mean?" He asked while still staring at the mock orange hedges.

"Well," I removed a pen from my pocket, took a napkin, and applied the pen's tip to the edge. We both watched as the ink bled into it. "That's sort of what happens when you dye something. Or, you see those brown leaves on the driveway in front of the garage? Those are leaves that turned brown and died, which means they are no longer alive,"

"That one," Desmond said. "The died leafs,"

"How come you're asking about dying?" I asked gently while rubbing his back.

"I heard the teachers talking during nap time; they said my friend from my class, Maika Lorenzo, got died, and he can't come back to class anymore," Desmond said.

"You're sad?"

Nodding, he continued. "I won't play with him from now on, and I didn't say goodbye to him. Do you think he'll come back?"

"No," I replied. "If what your teachers say is correct, Maika won't be coming back,"

"Is Maika died like a brown leaf now?" Desmond asked

"Yes, but you see how the mock orange flowers open every night? Maika will sort of be like that; he'll be back and bloom like a flower. The only thing is that no one knows when that will happen; it may be a long time from now, but he'll be back like that," I tried my best to explain.

"The teachers said it's because Maika had lots of hurts from his father," Desmond said. 


"He had dark marks on his eye and cheeks; sometimes, he came to school with a castor around his arm," Desmond held his arm up and made a motion.

"That's a cast; it helps set and heal, helped Maika's arm get better," I was choking up now, realizing what had really happened to Desmond's friend from school, and I gave my grandson a big hug while failing at holding back my tears. "Every time the mock orange flowers bloom, you can think of Maika,"

"Cause he'll be back one day?"

"We don't know when, but one day," I nodded. 

My little grandson sipped on his cocoa and ate his little piece of buttered toast, and as more mock orange flowers unfolded and bloomed, Desmond whispered to himself, "Come back, Maika, come back,"

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