Kristen Nemoto Jay

Ever since the birth of my daughter, I find myself thinking a lot about life and death. I think about my own mortality and the fact that I will more than likely not be alive to see our possible grandchildren graduate from high school. My husband and I had her “late.” A “geriatric pregnancy” is what my doctor categorized me as, though I was a healthy and active 35-year-old. That diagnosis was given, however, in the spring of 2020, when of course everything was turned upside down for most of us. Death, soon after finding out I was pregnant, became a part of our everyday lives. People I knew began to pass away due to COVID-19 complications and other ailments. A cousin-in-law passed shortly after our daughter was born. A family friend, died from breast cancer. Several others: an uncle, a cousin’s daughter, a friend’s mother, left our physical world without time to process and grieve. To say it’s been a hard two years is an understatement, for everyone, and we’re all still here trying to pick up the pieces and get through it together.

Despite the grief and pain, which I’m learning is a natural process that comes in waves, what I find most inspiring is the stories around us that we can learn from and take what we need to heal. Our cover story about Mickey Weems, a life-long teacher and contributor to the “Mickey is Dying” podcast, shares an amazing tale about gratitude and “kuleana.” Seeley Borges, the miracle baby who’s currently on the road to recovery against leukemia, teaches us about strength and community. Kelsey and Michael Darling, founders of the Make Lemonade Project, reminds us that giving back and making lemons out of lemonade is the key to a life well lived. Kevin Kawamoto wants us to keep our brains healthy and happy, Brian Niiya, editor of the online “Densho Encyclopedia,” wants us to never stop learning, and Gary Ikuma, son of the late Sgt. Ed Ikuma, wants us to remember his father by sharing his story of courage and honor.  

As Mickey’s grandmother once said: “Whether you live or die, everything’s going to be fine.” I find peace knowing that this world will be fine. The people who we’ve had the pleasure of sharing their stories in this issue make me believe Mickey’s grandmother’s words to be the truth. I hope you will too.  


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