Sunday, February 28, 2016

Eddie Would Go.

If you have ever been to Hawaii, you've probably seen bumpah stickahs that say- Eddie Would Go.

Eddie Aikau was a Hawaiian surfer, lifeguard, hero and legend. He won the Duke's Invitational Surfing championship in 1977. He was a well known lifeguard in Waimea Bay, where no lives were lost while he was on duty and he braved up to 30 foot waves because he could. In 1978, he and a crew of the Polynesian Voyaging Society were on a 30 day recreation of Hawaiian migration between Hawaii and Tahiti. The canoe developed a leak and ended up capsizing south of Molokai. There was much debate over waiting it out or going for help. Eddie grabbed his surfboard and a life vest and went for help. He was never seen again. The crew was eventually rescued by the Coast Guard.

In 1985, Quicksilver began a surfing competition on the North Shore to honor Eddie.  The main condition is that the waves must be over 20 feet high. When no one else would dare, Eddie would Go.  The conditions of these big swells are particularly dangerous and only 8 Eddie Contests have been held. The last one was in 2009.

All day I've heard- the last Eddie was so long ago. It was in 2009. And for the life of me I cannot remember that Eddie. And let me tell you, it is a BIG deal on the islands. It is a contest of Olympic proportions here. I am not a surfer, the kids dabble because when in Hawaii and young, you give it a go. I have a profound respect for Mother Ocean. She is vast and she is strong. She is unpredictable and she is deep.  And it got me thinking- what was I doing 6 years ago that was so much more important than having any idea a major event was occurring?

We were a few months out of Lily's chemo. Her hair was growing back and we were trying to find new normal, again. And I got teary thinking about how LONG ago that was and how uncertain and afraid I was for Lily.  How afraid I was of losing her. How helpless I felt when she suffered and there was nothing I could do. Those times were relatively quiet compared to the previous year but they were indescribably difficult. It is something that is tough to explain to someone unless they have lived through crisis. Anyone who has, nods quietly with understanding. There we were, things were easy compared to the constant treatments and overnight feeds and ER visits and hospitalizations and scans- but somehow in the quiet the stress of the past crashes loudly around you. I don't remember that Eddie, but I remember how Lily's hair had the most amazing platinum blonde tips and she would have trouble sleeping and we would find her next to my bed or by the door. Bella would get lonely and we would find her with Kiera.  And part of you wants to live every day like it's the last and part of you realizes you have to maybe consider living today like it's the first of many to come.

That is the perspective living with chronic conditions gives you. Like the gigantic waves- sometimes riding the wave is the easy part compared to choppy white waters you have to navigate when it crashes. And then another wave crashes and holds you down. And so much of it is just luck and what you make of the breaks you are given.  When they discussed the big waves for the very first event- were they big enough? Were they too big? The statement was born- Eddie Would Go.

I've noticed this year the overriding theme of safety. Surfers are wearing vests, they are encouraged to drop everything and help anyone who might be in trouble. And I can't help but think- shit these dudes are psycho. They willingly look forward to going out there and getting pummeled. For what? A title? It's more than that and I have to respect the spirit of the Eddie. It is insanely dangerous and that is acknowledged.  But there is an overriding respect of nature and it's power, the mana of the ocean and it's waves. That's what it's like LIVING with a chronic illness.

Phil had last Monday off after working all weekend. There was buzz about the Eddie later that week. The waves were big enough- Let's go see them! Of course the guy never gets to chill and here I am dragging him to the North Shore to see big waves- risking traffic and flooding. But we got up there- and it is humbling- the strength and sheer sizes of the waves. Feeling the ground rumble. In 10 years we've been here, I've never seen waves that big and always wanted to. The waves were crashing over the road, leaving trails of mud and rocks. We decided to head back before it got too crazy busy.

I hear more often than I would like- people tell me they don't know how I do it. Once, Phil was told by another husband of a mutant that he would kill himself if his wife and kids all had LFS. I think that impacted us both dramatically. Why do we do it? I guess we have a choice- there's always a choice, some choices just suck more than others. We CHOSE to have children knowing that there might be potential hereditary cancer time bombs waiting in the wings. But mostly I'm astonished. We are choosing to live, despite knowing we are paddling out to monumental waves. Hell we've been riding waves for our entire lives. That is the nature of the ocean. We know we will get knocked down. We also know we might catch one. Or a lot. Or at least have the time of our lives or die trying to live. If that is not what life is about - then I don't know what is. Inspiring others by just doing what you love, that somehow it is perceived as bravery or strength. There could be worse things to be known for.

My waves are different than yours, which are different than someone else's. Choose your wave. Then choose to Go.  Team Mallory Would Go.

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Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)