So Far Away

Last week I had three friends who suddenly had their worlds turned upside down. All involved being in the hospital with major health issues. Hawaii felt very far from friends and family. There wasn’t much I could do from 2,500 miles away. I wish I could have at least sat with them and held their hands, but phone calls, e-mails and prayer had to suffice.

I had an amazing 4th of July. We watched a parade, we went to Hickam Air Force Base to see Plain White T’s in concert and followed up with fireworks. The weather was perfect and I was feeling great.

Surprisingly, the 4th of July here was the most patriotic 4th I’ve seen since I lived in Washington D.C. in the early 90’s. Women and children donned in red, white and blue, and stars and stripes, shouted greetings of “Happy 4th Of July”. During the parade, people waved American flags. The color guards marched. The VFW, American Legion and Vets of the Korean War, Vietnam and one Pearl Harbor survivor all paraded. I haven’t seen Americans stand up, clap and cheer for Veterans in a long, long time. It never happened in San Francisco. But, then, there’s no Independence Day parade in San Francisco.

I felt American again, here in Hawaii. Then the phone calls and e-mails happened from my friends in California telling me about their, or their spouses injuries/illnesses. I imagined them stuck in industrial-looking hospital buildings, smelling those horrible hospital smells and watching machines and waiting for doctors, while I was looking out at steep green cliffs and rainbows, feeling warm tradewinds blow past me carrying the scent of tropical flowers.

So, here I sit in Hawaii, feeling like it’s another country and realizing how important my friends are. These three friends span my lifetime; one from nursery school, one from high school and another from college. They represent different times in my life, different experiences I had while growing up. They are important.

I think of friends and loved ones back on the mainland. SFO airport used to carry me to them within a few hours, or I could drive to them on a moment’s notice. Now I’m 2,500 miles away at closest.

But Hawaii has an airport. A big one, where American Airlines will fly me to Georgia this October so I can visit one of my best friends from high school and watch his sons play in their football games.
I’ll make time to see the people who are important to me and I will find time to visit those three friends I’ve been thinking about all week.

See y’all in October.

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