“The quality of mercy is not strained. It dropeth as gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed as it blesses both him that gives and him that receives.” – The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare
The more time that passes, the stranger the passage of time becomes. Your friendly neighborhood art director Chris Skiles* and I recently celebrated one year since being adopted into the MauiTime ohana (we started our jobs a week apart), and though deadline days and nights have (by no fault but my own) become a one-person office slumber party, I couldn’t be more plum-pleased. It’s strange, though—especially when viewed from the Da Kine Calendar realm—to witness annual events roll around again, blooming like my second-ever spring.
Stranger still, for me, because I’ve missed most of it. I’d barely assumed my seat when, about a year ago, I began to bleed inexplicably from my pores—a rather unimpressive stigmata of sorts—and great welting bruises dolloped my flesh like the rolling hills of Ulupalakua in early summer, purpled with Jacaranda blooms. Turned out my 15th and 17th chromosomes decided to swap partners in a bad cell division hoe-down (“translocation” for them there educated folk), and as I signed the papers to whisk me away on a private plane to Cancer Land, the day after Halloween, they told me I had leukemia.
Leukemia, I was certain, was just for cute bald kids in commercials, and that whatever it was I had could be cured in two weeks flat with a good nap and a side salad.
Eight months and a million dollars later (OK, not a million, but it feels like it), and I was officially back to work. Sure, my MauiTime ohana kept my byline in at times when I did not deserve a shred of credit, and allowed me to toss in words if and when I could, but for all intents and purposes, I was laid-up in a backless gown, pumped full of junk and still bleeding on the sheets.
So because I feel like I’ve just re-begun the job I never really got to start, it’s all the more astounding to me when folks like Scott Johnson of Dogtowne Design, Mike O’Dwyer of Mulligans on the Blue, all the peeps at KAOI Radio Group, Bounty Music, Trish “The Dish” Smith of Maui Weekly and musicians like Shawn Michael and Josh Greenbaum (and a huge list of other amazing musicians, businesses and community members who—though I’m remiss in not listing them all—deserve more than a small mention in this humble column) get together and throw me a the wildest shindig the isle has seen in quite a while.
Not having had the time to, I feel, deservedly earn any of the affection they’ve so generously rained, I just can’t wrap my head around the whole affair… never mind the quality of that night’s music. Whether or not you were lucky enough to score tickets, all the buzz you heard about Zeptember is true. The performers’ skills were sick and the camaraderie without compare throughout a night that was wholly feel-good and brightly star-studded.
But gosh darn is it hard to accept such kindness! It’s harder than getting a bone marrow biopsied in your bare butt, harder than chemotherapy, harder than figuring out the bills I stopped looking at out of sheer terror. I have a bad habit of being too embarrassed to know when or how to say thanks—this case being no exception—and have fallen mightily in thanking my medical professionals, my blood ohana, their friends and co-workers who I consider not unlike my own, my MauiTime ohana’s saint-like patience, my sword-slinging Iaijutsu ohana (if you’ve ever wondered about my cartoon incarnation’s getup) for their pure pono and training and, of course, everyone involved in Zeptember.
So I’ll take this chance to try to say thank you. Thank you for a night I’ll never forget. Thank you for helping me plow through to the other side of financial crises. Thank you for patience while I screw my head back on and “find the right words.” Thank you for love. Thank you for tenderness. Thank you for lickin’s when I need them. Thank you for understanding me in the winter of my early years.
And while this doesn’t express my gratitude by any means—I’ll be thanking you all to the end of my days (which thankfully, should be a while from now)—consider this my oath to do some good in return. Not just in my job that I’ve gotten to return to, but in my every day that is more than borrowed time.
* Who, at the time of this writing, is waiting on my column when he should be preparing for a trip home to Texas—to return a married man alongside his bride (to be), Mrs. Sabrina Skiles. Congrats, bro.