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Love Stories of Hawaii

Special Occasion

Cheri's Time
Dedicated to Cheri Brock

Submitted by Richard

She went to Hawaii. I didn't go, so I know few particulars. In fact, I still haven't been, so I can't describe the beauty of the islands or pass on stories about the kindness of the locals. I can, however, express the magic of a trip; an idealized journey juxtaposed against a fight for life. My grandmother's face shines with laughter and smiles in every photograph taken on the trip. The photo album also shows my mom in 1972 style: hair straight-up in a tight bun, mini skirts, and platform shoes. Her face shines too, but I can also see struggle. I can see it in the tightness of her smile and the exhaustion in her eyes. The image I have of my dying sister is not reflected in the Hawaii album. Instead I see a young woman with too much life to restrain in a wheelchair. My mom told my sister that they could take a trip anywhere she wanted to go. Without hesitation, Cheri said, "Hawaii." At 10 years old, I couldn't understand why I wasn't going along. Truthfully, I did comprehend but I didn't want to admit that truth. My sister had a cancerous brain tumor and Mom wanted this trip to be about nothing but Cheri. My mom explained to me that this was "Cheri's time," but she said no more. Cheri's condition was known to everyone but silently. I heard whispers all the time between my mom and grandmother. I heard, "We have to take her soon," and, "I hope she has a good week while we're there." For months before the big trip, my sister teased me. She was going on a plane ride. She was going to a real luau. My parents were very social people and they sometimes threw Hawaiian parties. They had big Mai-Tai mugs with carved-out figures, tiki torches and Don Ho 8-tracks. Not even the unspoken reason for Cheri's trip deterred her from picking on her little brother. I even recall her saying, "Mom has to pay someone to stay with you while we're gone." All of this happened so long ago. My dad took me all over during the Hawaii trip. We went to Disneyland on a plane and camping on the coast. I was spoiled, but even more so by a divorced dad. When Cheri got home, she teased me, but this time she also had an attitude. She was like a world traveler who was willing, but just barely, to share her exploits with the peasants. She came home with ambition and hope with a touch of spunk. My sister lived until right after her 18th birthday. We have mountains of family photo albums, but I take solace in the Hawaii album. It's true that I don't know where they stayed or which islands they visited or if they saw Don Ho. I know my grandmother brought along all the fun she could muster. I know my mom was cautious, but happy, and I know my sister once wheeled through Hawaii.

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