Andrew Kalani Bosque Banez, also known as "Kalani" or my sweetie boy, or my babe, or Nahokuokalani was born on November 11, 2000. He is the son of my brother and sister in law. He is my nephew, who turned out to be the child my heart has longed for. He allowed me to experience motherhood in the midst of my kidney failure. In the moments of sadness that I believed I was not ever going to bear a child, he gave me a reason to believe that being a "mom" was still possible. I have no doubt that I am alive because my will to live was so strong because I wanted to see him grow up. I am his second mama, his "Auntie Mom" as he'd affectionately call me. He would spend every Summer with me in San Jose, CA coming from Hawaii. Our relationship was no ordinary Auntie - Nephew relationship...the love between us was evident. I love him with every bit of me and then some.
On May 5, 2017, my sweet boy took his life. Suicide. It hasn't been easy for me to verbalize that word, because...well, then it makes it real. I haven't openly shared much about how Kalani passed because the act of taking his life is so INSIGNIFICANT in comparison to the amazing life he did live.
As you can imagine, the depth of grief I endured was and continues to be HUGE. However, healing came in different ways and one of the biggest ways I was able to heal was through triathlon training. It's a mental game and training can leave you with nothing but the water or the road and your thoughts. During some of the longer swims, I'd remember us swimming together at different beaches in Hawaii. During the runs, I'd remember us hiking together. On particularly tough training days, I'd speak to Kalani asking him to send some tailwind if he had any power over that...and I think he did! When it got really, really tough, I'd remember him at the finish line of my first triathlon, Lavaman, where he told me as we hugged, "Auntie, I'm so proud of you".
Grief, it's never easy, but there is something beautiful in grief - like really leaning on your friends to help you get through tough times, or keeping the memory of your loved one alive by sharing with people who never knew them, or like me, finding ways to deal with your grief by pushing yourself in your favorite sport (TRI). I'm grateful for triathlon. Like an old friend, I'm grateful that it's helped me through some of my hardest times.
Written by Angie Banez, Siren Luminary
Follow Angie on Instagram @angiebeegee