Yesterday was a day of opposites. A day of ups and downs. At different times yesterday, I was in tears and heartbroken. In other moments, my heart was filled with hope and love and optimism.
In the morning, I attended a memorial service for my friend and mentor, Flo Kong Kee. She was one of the first people I met when I first got involved in local politics. I was a foreigner. I was a haole from Kansas who wanted to work to make Hawaii (and the world) a better, more equitable place for everyone.
Flo welcomed me, mentored me, and listened to me. She had more love for Hawaii and its people, culture, and land more than anyone else I met here. She was more determined, driven, and filled with aloha than anyone else I worked with. When she struggling with personal illness, when she was worn-out, was on the losing end of important battles, she was never bitter. She was never without hope. Even in those times, especially in those time, she was always smiling, optimistic and thinking about what comes next.
We didn’t always agree on issues, on policy priorities or how to reach our goals. But I never doubted her commitment to working people, to making Hawaii better for everyone.
She was taken from us far too early. And I regret never sharing with her how much she meant to me and how much I valued and respected her.
After the memorial, I walked a few blocks through Waikiki back to where the Kuleana Academy was meeting. And I spent a good portion of the rest of the day with the group participating in the third cohort. The people in this group come from all over the state, from different backgrounds, from different experiences.
I also participated in Kuleana Academy earlier in the year, learning and growing with a wonderful and dynamic group of people.
Yesterday and during previous weekends, I sat in the back of the room, listening to this group of people talking story, questioning each other and learning from each other. I talk to this current cohort and smile and feel inspired.
Then, as the sun set and the day crept to its conclusion, I witnessed their graduation from the program. And I couldn’t help but be hopeful for our future. I am so excited to continue to get to know this fantastic group of people and work with them for the betterment of Hawaii and the most disadvantaged of those who live here.
It was a hard and hopeful day. I will miss Flo and am sad she isn’t here to help us shape a better future for Hawaii, but we will persevere. Imua!