Noho me ka hau’oli

A tad over two years ago I found out I had a Mexican fugitive hiding in my ass and last night I had Mexican for dinner.

I originally had plans to be in Hawaii for the 2nd anniversary of my diagnosis but unfortunately, like most things in life, that didn’t pan out.

What did (and still is) pan(ning) out is the best trip to Hawaii I’ve ever had, and that’s saying something given this is at least my 7th trip.

I’m typing this overlooking Kalakaua Avenue, which is the main drag in Waikiki. If you were here you’d hear cars, music, singing and even still, at nearly 9PM, the sound of waves lapping against what is arguably the most famous beach in the world.

This trip is like no other for so many reasons: It’s something I’ve wanted since I was first diagnosed, confident, but never sure [you can’t be], that I’d make it; It’s our first proper trip with Annabelle of any significance; It’s the first trip that my sister and her partner, Dad, and us, have truly relaxed and hung out since Mum died; and it’s the first time in a long time that, notwithstanding niggles which my anxiety tells me is going to be the end of me, I’ve barely thought about Cancer.

The last sentence is a bit of a lie. Even in this paradise, it creeps into my thoughts at least a few times a day, but something has changed. I’m no longer worried. Of course I’m worried that it will come back and all that yahoo, but I can’t control whether it does or it doesn’t, and so in that sense, I’ve finally realised there is little point worrying about it.

When we checked in, we were upgraded thanks to the generosity of a handful of lovely friends who we consider family, even though by blood, we’re not. I’m typing this from the 21st level, overlooking an inky black Waikiki Beach. When I first saw the room, and every other time I’ve been in a room of such a height, I’ve shied away from the balcony, and appreciated the view from the safety of the room.

It’s different now…

I’ve stood, leaning on the railing (but not too much, I’m not fucking stupid after all), and looked out over Waikiki Beach, and Diamond Head below me. But this time it’s in awe, as opposed to in fear, almost as though, for some reason which I can’t explain, I deserve to be here.

I’ve loved sharing this trip with my sister and her partner, brother in law, best mate and his family, Dad, and of course, Lyndell and the Raptor. But there are two things that stand out, and that I will remember til I no more: (1) Introducing my daughter to the colour, music, and vibe of Hawaii; and (2) Re-introducing my Dad to Hawaii in circumstances where he hasn’t been here in almost 20 years.

I’ve spent a day with a bloke and his wife who until then I only knew through Flickr (photo sharing site) and had one of the best days ever. I’ve done laps of our hotel pool underwater to the cheers of Annabelle. I’ve eaten burgers that require more than 5 napkins to clean your hands. I’ve walked down the street, forgetting who I am, or what I have to do, other than meeting someone for lunch/dinner/another cocktail.

As is the case with all my trips to Hawaii, I’ve put on weight, although truth be told I’d put on weight before I got here. There is a beautiful complacency with grazing for a day or two, and then skipping the odd meal, only to more than make up for it, both in terms of taste, sustenance, and replenishment, the next time around.

On a purely selfish note it’s incredible knowing that a bunch of people who I love dearly travelled huge distances, and endured delays and annoyances to get here, to spend time with me. I’d like to think that even without my diagnosis, perhaps they would still have made the trip, but I now that it wouldn’t have been now, and I know that it wouldn’t have been en masse like this.

This whole trip, I’ve had too much food, too much sun, and lord knows, too much alcohol. And I know that when we get home in a few days, that life goes back to ‘normal’. Back to work, back to home life, back to a life where Cancer is always in the back of my mind, and sadly, often at the forefront.

But at the moment, and even in the knowledge that I have to go back to the ‘real world’, life is good. It’s better than good. I can’t for the life of me imagine life being better than it is right now at this very moment.

I have a job that I love, and which has allowed to meet so many wonderful people who I am fortunate enough to call friends; I have friends who have become family; I have family who are prepared to meet me on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and others who can’t be here but make sure I have the best fucking view of it you can get; I have a wife who, if you looked up the definition of ‘strength’, you’d find a picture of her (no doubt sipping a Hawaiian Mule); and I have a daughter who, despite the fact that drives me fucking crazy, is the most marvellous thing I will ever do in my life, and who has so thoroughly enjoyed her first holiday.

And so on that note, Noho me ka hau’oli (“Be Happy”).

Aloha and until next time, be kind to your colons, and each other

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