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Beginnings and Endings
by Fern Merle-Jones

Although we all hemmed and hawed, in the end we were ready for the ending of the 1900s and the beginning of 2000, call that what you will. We were so ready that some were actually disappointed with the "un-happening" while others recognized it as Y2-OK. What has struck many of us however, is what has happened since the beginning of this new era so to speak. A definite acceleration of life processes and unexpected significant events.

For myself, I had the great good fortune of being at two births during the month of January. Birth is always an awesome event, one of those everyday miracles that never ceases to amaze all present and even those just hearing about it. To actually be present at a birth... well that is really a powerful life experience.

Our dear friends Jeanne and Blaine got pregnant a bit later in life, each already had teenagers by other relationships. Yet they embraced this new baby and planned their birth to be at home and in a pool so that the baby would make his entry gently, under water! He seemed to choose his time wisely and carefully as all the signs and portents foretold. Lit candles, the soft sound of Tibetan bowls, and a ring of expectant loving eyes, dear friends and family, greeted the baby Kahea as he arrived most peacefully on January 21st at 1:36am during a full moon on the night of an eclipse. His name Kahea Nanai`a ( the Dolphins call)was given to him by Serge after being told of a vision which Mom, Dad, and many at the births saw on the night of his birth. With the addition of input from Kumu Hewett, his name became, Kahea Nanai`a o ka Wai Ola, the dolphins call to the water of life.

One auspicious birth to begin the new year is significant enough but the Universe had another powerful beginning to share with me as I was called to attend the birth of another friend just 4 days later on January 25th. Kate, very young and first time mother, needed a lot of support and encouragement. Birthing was an unfamiliar and frightening experience for her. Yet, in due time and with the natural flow of the Universe, baby Grace came into this world at noon-time. The sun shone down lighting up the pool as she emerged in the water. It is amazing how the tapestry of life experience can be offer such diversity.

I took all these experiences home with me, looking to absorb all of the richness while attempting to recover some sleep.

For weeks, I was tuned into birth all around me. In new projects that were being created. In the trees that were bearing fruit, in the books I was reading, in the metaphors I was creating in my mind. I used examples about birth in my teachings. Everywhere, there was birth.

On February 1st I arrived home in the evening and had a message from Serge on my answering machine telling me that our good friend Vernon had died that afternoon at his boat at Nawiliwili Harbor. What a shock, this was very unexpected. How does one accept this? It took a day for the story to become clear. The official report was that he had a "heart attack". According to his friend who was there with him, he had missed his step getting from the boat to a dingy, fallen into the water and was unable to get back onto the boat or the dingy. He was given a life jacket and was being rowed to shallow water while he rested in the water. During this time, he seemed to drift off to a meditative or perhaps a sleep state. However, he did not revive and had in fact drifted from this world entirely. Was this an ending? Certainly it was that for us, yet we are the living. But what about Vernon? Has he entered into a new beginning? These questions played in my brain as I acted as a liason with Vernon's family and attempted to make sense of reality. On Sunday, February 6th we held a memorial service where the river meets the sea at Anini. The day was spectacular in beauty and the soft air seemed to welcome us to this life. We remembered Vernon and felt an emptiness as we realized that he would no longer be with us playing the ipu at Hula or eating lunch after talk story. He had faithfully attended all of my workshops. Even when he had told me that he could not make it, there he would be. So here we were gathered to honor him and we talked to him with a knowing that he was really present there with us all. We also shared fellowship with one another, giving each other support in the knowledge that this was our destiny, too, to leave this world, just as it had been our destiny to arrive. And so when we give birth to our babies, we are giving them life and we are also giving them death.

Today I received pictures that I had taken of baby Kahea's birth. I relived each moment that was depicted. The raw aliveness of the experience in all of its intensity could be brought back in detail by images printed on a piece of paper, Imagine that! I brought the pictures over to Jeanne and Blaine and we shared our memories as we gazed at the sleeping Kahea who now seems so comfortable in our world, like he has always been here. Maybe he has.

Tonight I saw Kate out walking with baby Grace held snugly against her chest in a baby pack. Kate looked confident and natural as if she had always been a Mom, and maybe she had.

Vernon's daughter Heather told me that after the family funeral in Denver, the family released white balloons, one for each of them. The balloons stayed together for as far as the eye could see. They took it as a sign from Vernon that he was with was them and that they would be together always. Maybe that is true as well.

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