One of the most difficult things about human existence on Earth is saying goodbye to the people we love and appreciate. We never think someone, especially the young, will vanish from our lives. But we do not have to see too many suns and moons here in this place before we learn what that feels like. The closer they are to us and the younger they are, the greater the loss….the tragedy. This thing that we call death is something we do not speak of or think of often- at least not until it comes to our doorsteps and sweeps across our lives. None of us can hide from it nor escape it, and the grief it causes can weigh upon us like a mountain of stone. Perhaps the only thing we can do is remember the life that was and find the strength to gather, remember, and celebrate the spark that has been lost.
This Saturday, the family of Jonah Kekoa Hema is doing just that, and they have asked that anyone who knew him or who wishes to come and be a part of his celebration of life please attend. Kekoa, as he was known, passed away at his home in Aloha, Oregon, on 12/20/2023. The 30-year-old father of two young boys graduated from Hillsboro High School in 2011. He also attended St. Matthews, Indian Hills Elementary, and Brown Junior High. Born to Louis and Marion Hema on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Specifically, the family is from the town of Waianae on the Eastern shores, a place famous for local Hawaiian culture and producing wonderful people.
Please see the YouTube Video above to see hwo special he was.
Kekoa was the youngest of 4 children. He leaves behind his parents, his older sisters Christine and Noelle, and his brother Kealii. Many of the Hema family are here in greater Hillsboro, and Louis and Marion have ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. I was lucky to meet Kekoa once and have seen this family in action at gatherings and celebrations. Hawaiian people are known for their Aloha and love of life. This lively and fun group celebrates and loves with all their hearts. That is why his death, as much of a hole that it has blown through them, must be celebrated. They openly invite you to come and hear stories, share a meal, and learn about the life of this special person.
I spoke this to his Father and asked him to tell us about his Son. He shared these words and thoughts with me.
“Kekoa was a very giving person. He would give anyone the shirt off his back and do anything to help anyone. Anyone. If you were his friend, you knew he would always have your back- no matter what! Also, he was Fun. He was the light at parties and get-togethers. He lit up the room no matter where he went. Also, he loved his boys with all his heart. He wanted to see them and be with them always. They were his whole life.”
We talked about his childhood and his favorite places. There is a special beach in Waianae that he loved, and he had plans to be with his parents in Hawaii right now. Sadly, that trip did not happen. After the family and friends say goodbye and celebrate him and some time passes, his ashes will go to his boyhood home in Hawaii, where he will be remembered again by his family there.
His heart led to his death, and it remains here now with his boys, all of his family, and everywhere he was known…all the places he lit up so well. He will never be forgotten.
Sister Noelle set up a GoFundMe to help offset his funeral expenses. Please give if you feel you can.
Kekoa loved this song; I’ll Be Seeing You by American Idol 2021 Winner Iam Tongi. Tongi made a habit out of moving people to tears with his performances on American Idol. One such performance was this song which he performed during the finale as a final tribute to his late father before he was crowned the winner.
The Family uses the words from this song to remember him and honor him.
All your wits, all of the laughsYour grin, stay in my heart Stay in my mind for all of timeAnd I’m sure I’ll be alrightI’m doing just fine only for a timeWhere do I go from here? Know I’m lonely, but have no fear‘Cause I’ll be seeing youSeeing you, wherever I go And I’ll be, be with you Be with you, wherever I goGone, but your love is all I have leftI’ll stand tall, you’ll stay in my arms Won’t stay in the dark ’cause you’ll look for meMaybe I’m bound to breakI wanted more, I can’t resist The thought of you lingers on me nowheaven knows no tears(Ooh) but if only you were hereBut I’ll be seeing youSeeing you, wherever I go I’ll be, be with you Be with you, wherever I go