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The Big Kahuna
A few years ago, I met one of my dad's friends. His name was Donald, but everyone called him the 'Big Kahuna'. They called him that because he was a big guy. He was a bouncer with my dad and his friends. That's not how my dad met him though.
Kahuna heard my dad on the radio and saw him at a bar and had to share how much of a fan he was. From then on, he came to our house on weekly basis. Until one day I'd never see him again.
A person doesn't really know what death is until it actually comes and hits them in the face. On the day of July 31st, 2007, I got that hit in the face. The man I would see at least once a week, had died. Donald 'Kahuna' Pearsons, had died. I remember it like a movie.
The day seemed like any other. I was at home, on the computer doing as I normally would. My dad came home from work at 4pm on the dot as usual. He walked in the door, stopped, looked at me, and walked upstairs. I thought it was strange he didn't say a word. A few minutes later, he came back down to tap me on the shoulder. I was listening to the song Dig by Incubus. I turned it off and took out the headphones from my ears. His eyes were red like he had been scratching at them or had bad allergies, which he didn't. He was picking up clothes from the laundry hamper. 'You wanna know something?'. I was puzzled and curious at the same time. At first, I thought I was in trouble. I nodded. 'Kahuna died today''. My heart froze along with my brain. It took about 15 seconds for my mind to actually comprehend what was just thrown at me. I remember not saying anything until my dad said my name. 'How'how did he'what?' I said in awe. 'You know he was a big guy, not too healthy. I heard he just fell asleep and didn't wake up'his wake is in a few days, you can come if you want, but I won't make you.' I thought to myself 'How could I not come?'. This is the first death of someone close to me in my life that actually had an impact. My uncle Duke died when I was 3 years old but, I was too young to remember anything about it.
From the second I learned of Kahuna's death, I think my emotions ran low. My whole body was In shock for a while. I didn't know how to take it. School doesn't prepare you for anything like this. Your parents don't prepare you for anything like this. It all just depends on a person's inner strength and personality. I've always been interested in murders, deaths, and crimes, but, T.V. shows can't tell you enough about a death to make you understand what it's really like.
A week later, what seemed like judgment day, had come. My dad had left it up to me to decide weather or not I wanted to look death in the face and walk into a room full of hurt and tears. A wake. Before then, I didn't even know what a wake was. I thought when someone died, it was the classic, put your black suit on and go to the cemetery to watch the casket get lowered into the ground. I didn't know what I was in for. I'd seen in movies such as Spiderman, what a funeral looked like. People cry a little, you say a few words then everyone walks away to their cars while it ironically starts to rain. A wake is completely different. Hollywood movies didn't help in this case.
The night before the wake, I hadn't got any sleep like the past week. I sat in my bed looking out my window. I had the perfect view of the Vermont Mountains at my old house. I stared into the formation of trees, as the moon bounced off the fog surrounding them. I looked in the sky a lot too, wondering what was really up there. Was there really heaven? My family isn't religious. Most of us don't care for it and live life as it comes. I'd taken logic as my way to answer what most people argue about. But as a kid, I'd secretly believe in some sort of god. No one knew, because I didn't want anyone to make fun of me for it or something. For years, when something went wrong, I'd say softly under my breath, 'Please help me now'. I wouldn't ever say god. I didn't know if there was one, I just thought there was a higher power. My cat junior had run away when I was 8 or 9 years old, and I prayed for her to come back everyday for a year or so. I never saw that cat again. That's when I lost faith. To me, there was no heaven nor hell. Just Life and death. So Kahuna passing away, put me in a confusion. I'd hope the best for him for whatever he believed but, I didn't know what to believe myself.
We got to a funeral home or something. The parking lot was full of cars and one motorcycle which I knew was Big Jeff's, one of my dad's friends and Kahuna's. He was one of the toughest guys I knew. But what I didn't know is how much death could impact even the toughest guy.
I walked into the big doors, and saw more people than I expected, cramped into a little room with metal chairs arranged in rows. There was a line formed to speak to Kahuna's family. My dad, his girlfriend Jody, and myself joined the line. While waiting, there was a large display of pictures of Kahuna throughout his life. As everyone else was talking, I stood in front of it, staring. I can still remember every picture as if they were burned into my memory. I remember a picture of him and his brother as kids, with a big ol' smile on his face. Another, of him fixing up a car. That's what he loved to do. I remember a few weeks before he died, he drove this big old 'hippie van' I called it. He let me go inside and check it out. There were 2 seats in the front and a big bed in the back. I played in the van until he had to leave. Now whenever I see one like it, I'm reminded of him.
As we reached the front of the line at the wake, my heart started to pound. I shook the hand of each family member up there with true honor. I remember his dad most of all because he looked like Kahuna. He was a big guy too. And seeing how much hurt was in his eyes when I looked into them as I shook his hand, was hard to bear. It's impossible to explain.
After the line had cut down, a minister picked up the microphone and asked if everyone could take a seat. I sat on the left side, in the back, next to some woman and a baby. The minister spoke a few words on how he didn't know Kahuna but, could see how much he was loved by all the faces there. After he was finished, Kahuna's brother went up and spoke. He spoke about how him and Kahuna would cause mischief and have fun. I also remember how he made jokes, trying to cheer everyone up. 'Donald wouldn't want us all crying, he would want us to be happy and carry on' he said. Then, Big Jeff broke down. Tears were strolling down his face and a few guys took him outside to calm down. That really amazed and shocked me. All my life I've know all these big guys that have been friends of my dad. These guys were bouncers and security guards for bars that would get pretty rough at times. These were the strongest and toughest guys I know. For a teenager to see the toughest people they know break down and cry their eyes out is quite a realization and experience. Death isn't a joke, it's as real as it gets. I kept thinking how I'd never in my entire life see him again. It's just really hard to realize something like that.
The minister asked if there was anybody else wanting to speak. It was quiet for a minute if you don't count the sobbing. My dad walked up and took the microphone. If he hadn't, I would have. It was weird seeing him cry too. I'd only seen it once before, for a brief moment. But I saw him cry the whole day. I had cried too. When he was finished, everyone took a moment of silence and made their way to the door. That is a day I can never forget.
It was funny thinking back to all the details in order to write this paper. What I remember real vivid is the whole day it played out like a movie. The soundtrack was one song and one song only. Until now, I'd wondered why it was this song. But this was the song that was blasting in my ears as the seconds I learned Kahuna was gone. Dig by Incubus forever gets to me every time I hear it. That whole day it played throughout my head. Even now I'm listening to it for the first time in a while. It brings tears to my eyes no matter where I am. But this whole experience in my life did impact me in one of the biggest ways. I learned a lot. I learned crying doesn't show weakness because I saw the biggest guys I know break down in front of me. I learned death is real, and how real it is. I learned how easy it is for life to be taken away like that. So out of tragedy, comes good. Experience helps in life more than anything you can read out of a book. It's funny how life works out, or in some cases, death. Rest in peace Kahuna.