Lā Makuahine

What I Learned From My Mother by Julia Kasdorf

I learned from my mother how to love 

the living, to have plenty of vases on hand 

in case you have to rush to the hospital 

with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants 

still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars 

large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole 

grieving household, to cube home-canned pears 

and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins 

and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point. 

I learned to attend viewings even if I didn’t know 

the deceased, to press the moist hands 

of the living, to look in their eyes and offer 

sympathy, as though I understood loss even then. 

I learned that whatever we say means nothing, 

what anyone will remember is that we came. 

I learned to believe I had the power to ease 

awful pains materially like an angel. 

Like a doctor, I learned to create 

from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once 

you know how to do this, you can never refuse. 

To every house you enter, you must offer 

healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself, 
the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.

Hauʻoli lā Makuahine to my best friend and the light of my life! My mom is the most gracious, loving, hardworking, and thoughtful mother on earth. She’s taught me how to persevere in school, how to defend myself (I won’t discuss the fight at Disneyland haha), how to skateboard and play football, and how to stand up for what I believe in. She’s supported my every dream from fashion design to coaching and encourages me to pursue all of my passions. She has opened her heart to the issues on mine and now educates others on them. When she’s not raising up the demon children of America, she’s running our family, cleaning the house, taking care of the pets, and making sure we live good and decent lives. We’ve become twins as I’ve grown up and there’s no one else I’d rather imitate. Hauʻoli lā Makuahine e koʻu māmā, you are my hero.