Yesterday was the lantern floating ceremony at Ala Moana Beach Park. It has been going on for some time and yesterday was the third time we attended. We had a grand plan to pick up our lantern and then hoof it into Waikiki to do some day drinking. But before we could get out the door, LKY, put his back out. He kept trying to insist that he was fine but he was all stooped over, kind of shaped like a question mark. A shuffling question mark. It would have taken hours to get into Waikiki and back.
Instead we decided to head to the park at like four. We got there and used my super secret mall parking area, which was open. We crossed over to the park. It was hazy and hot. Crowded but not as crowded as it would get. We had not gone to lantern floating the previous year but we wanted to go this year because, well…..one way tickets. We found a spot on the beach and baked for a while before the program started. My friend Gigi managed to find us as well.
The lanterns that are floated are provided free of charge prior to the ceremony beginning. You just have to show up to get one. We got on the line before they started handing them out and once the line began moving at ten, we had a lantern in hand in less than half an hour. The lantern has four panels but you are only able to write on three of them. We each took a pane. I put my dad on the one that I had. I found a picture of him from some ten years ago when he was actively involved in veteran’s and memorial days.
My son took a panel and he put my mom’s puppy on it, Breeze. She had cancer. She was very young. My mom is still grieving and may always be grieving.
LKY dedicated his panel to ohana he has lost and some folks who he had known from working at the capitol.
The coverage and photos of the lantern floating ceremony are always taken in the dark. The candles are lit in the lanterns. There are scores of them floating on the ocean, in the darkness. Me, I have never witnessed this part of the ceremony. For me, it is the act of floating the lantern that I go for. The act of putting those words down. Words of regret. Sorrow. Words that wished things had been different. So many words. And you write them down on the lantern. And then the lantern goes in the ocean. It floats away. The words are gone. And this is why I go. I basically float my lantern and get out of there. I do not stay for the lanterns floating on the ocean photo op. I do not even wait for the darkness. It is absolutely still light out when I take off.
We met a lady who was on the lantern line and she was telling us that attending the ceremony was part of her bucket list and that her mom was 90 and would be coming to the beach later on. I’m certain that they waited for the darkness.
For me, it is not about the visual. For me it is just act of sending it away. I can’t explain it. It is like writing it down and getting it out and then sending it away. And being there. Being around all of those other people who are there to float their grief away. I feel like I am one of them. Part of me wanted to put myself on the lantern this year but that seemed kind of wrong. I wanted to put my life as it is today on the lantern. And put it in the ocean and float it away. Because that is how I feel. I am petrified about moving. I don’t know how this will all work out. But I know that even if was not moving, that things would need to change. Change. Possibly the scariest word in the English language.
I did not float my change away. It is in me. I carry it with me. And I am moving towards it. One. Way. Tickets.