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Is This Real?

Le‘a Ka‘aha‘aina

Just met you in December,

but I’ve known you my whole life.

Our mothers are bound together

By the honey in the Baklava.

They connect us,

we are connected.

I love your words,

your stories

100 Euro boots

still makes me smile. Talking

about hair being everywhere,

in Greece

in Hawaii.

Your strength amazes me.

You never let fear

get in your face.

Those evil tendrils

of cancer

may have wrapped around your spine,

but they never strangled your spirit.

You are so real,

Is this real?

Are you really gone? It is too hard

to believe.

No, you aren’t really gone,

Your spirit is still here Ilairea,

reminding me

to live my life to the fullest.

© Le‘a Ka‘aha‘aina 2006

The poet, a high school student at Kamehameha Schools Kapālama at the time, offered the following explanation of her work:

"The inspiration for this original poem is my friend, Ilairea, who just recently passed away from brain cancer. Her mother, Ariane, whom I am named after, and my mother are best friends. They first met in high school in Greece, but my mother moved to the U.S. before their senior year. Through the years, they have remained close, despite the distance. I chose to use the metaphor of honey gluing them together. Baklava is a traditional Greek dessert that uses honey to sweeten and hold together the layers of dough."