Mother's Day Week last year was a wonderful week of family celebration for us. JoAnne had been working on her college degree from Hawaii Pacific University part-time for ten years, and she was finally graduating. We were so proud of her and so excited about our big family party in Honolulu. Kevin's brother, Ryan, was also graduating at the same time and Ryan's family, Joey's Second Family with whom he had spent half his childhood, were also flying in. Joey was so happy to have his two families together in Honolulu for the big event. I was looking forward to seeing my dear friends Melissa and Tom, and having all the kids together. Kathy and Kristen also made plans to fly in for the graduation.
The day before Mother's Day, Jaime and JoAnne and I ran in the Maui Mother's Day 5K with a bunch of our friends.We ran to honor our Beloved Pastor Kit who was in the hospital going through chemo at the time. What a year it's been. Kit lost his battle with cancer and went to Heaven just two weeks ago. He and Joey are now together, and there is comfort in that for us.
The next day was Mother's Day and we all went to church together. Our grandchildren were on stage singing worship as led by Papa D and his guitar. It was adorable. After church, we all flew to Honolulu to meet up with Joey and our friends.
While I was standing at the counter, checking into the hotel, Joey came up behind me, said, "Hi Mama!", and put a beautiful lei around my neck. Then he hugged me with one of his great big wrap-around hugs. It was the sweetest. Later he asked what I wanted for Mother's Day and I told him I would like nothing better than to go to formal high tea at the lovely vintage Moana Surfrider Hotel. He willingly agreed. On our walk over there, we ran into his best friend Kevin, who decided to join us, and Joe and I and Kevin and Joey had tea together. I think the men enjoyed it much more than they imagined they would. It was delicious and a very civilized ritual for an afternoon in Hawaii. This picture was taken on our way back. He was in a funny mood and he was entertaining me and making me laugh. I loved his Where the Wild Things Are t-shirt, cuz he was kind of a wild thing. Chase has that now.
Here we are eating breakfast by the hotel pool. This is where we gathered each morning to plan out our days. It afforded plenty of room for both of our families to have a casual and relaxed start to the day. Joe shot this picture from the balcony of our room.
We spent our days before the graduation taking in the sun and surf. Here the grandkids pose with boogie boards. Those are some happy faces.
The night of graduation, we gathered on the grass at the Waikiki Shell. Joey and I walked over early and saved the spot. He schlepped about a dozen beach mats, and bags of snacks, so we could get a good spot for everyone. Here we are with Tom and Melissa--four proud parents celebrating a milestone together.
After JoAnne graduated, we gathered for photos and hugs. This is one of my favorites...shows Joey's wrap-around hug. He loved his sisters so much.
Most of our group made it into this shot. Joey stands between Ryan and JoAnne, the two graduates who are covered with leis. The rest of us surround them. Missing from the photo: Drew and Molly and Tom and Melissa, who are probably taking the pictures.
When we returned to Maui, Kevin and his wife Molly came along. We did plenty of beaching and bbq'ing. Chase just liked to hang out with Unkie JJ, too. They laughed a lot together.
Gradually everyone who had flown in, flew back out to their respective homes. Tom and Melissa back to L.A., Kevin and Molly back to Washington, JoAnne and her family back to Virginia. Little did we know that in three short days, our son would also fly away, into the arms of the Lord. By the following Saturday, we had all gathered again, this time with tears instead of smiles, to mourn the loss of Joey.
Retracing my steps on my last Mother's Day creates a sense of wonder in my heart. Only God could orchestrate a week like that for me--for all of us really. We didn't know we were saying our last goodbyes and I-love-you's, but now we know, and it means so much that God made that possible. Though I miss Joey, I am greatly comforted by God's timing in taking him home. It reminds me of Jesus taking care of his mother while He was on the cross--I feel like He's also taking care of me.
Isaiah 54:10"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.