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The leaves

March 1
Within the last few weeks of Kozo's life he met with his Commonweal work colleagues and shared his meditation imagery of his being a  tree in autumn whose leaves were falling slowing, gently.   Then, when he'd moved in with his brother and was in hospice, we met with him by  zoom for the last time---he told us he was "watching" the last leaves falling and very soon the tree would be bare and he would pass.   Kozo's beautiful smile warmed me like a blaze of autumn colors and his gentle loving-kindness continues to inspire me and give me hope.   

To all who were blessed to know Marshall Kozo Makala Hattori

March 7, 2021
Marshall Kozo passed away peacefully at around 6:45 PM on March 1 with my wife and I holding his hands and his two nephews at the base of his bed touching his legs.  It was as beautiful a passing as I could have hoped for my brother as he showed no signs of pain while taking his last breaths.

Although there has been many tears and a tremendous amount of sadness in these last few weeks, I am grateful that my brother was able to leave this life the way he wanted and to say goodbye to those he cherished most. 

I am also grateful that we were able to live together again for the first time in over 30 years since sharing an apartment in Isla Vista while going to UCSB.  True to his nature, Kozo never wanted to be a burden and only accepted our invitation to live with us “just until the weather gets warmer and I am strong enough to live in Oliver’s tiny house”.  He slept for three days straight when he moved in just after the holidays as his body was so weak from raising his boys and doing things for others despite his condition.  As he gained some strength back, I will cherish the times we were able to spend together from playing Mahjong and the card game Cambio with the boys to binge watching Cobra Kai. It was also a very healing time for both of us as we ended each night with Kozo telling me, “I love you Dougie” and me responding back, “I love you too bro”.  A daily ritual that we very rarely said to each other before (at least from my end). 

As Kozo started to realize that his stay with us was not to get better but to pass, he continued to insist that he didn’t want anyone to go out of their way for him. He balked at spending $40 on a Firestick so he could watch Netflix in the garage (I am good with watching Family Feud Dougie).  And speaking of the garage, despite us constantly wanting to move him to one of our boys’ rooms in the house, Kozo defiantly insisted on staying in the garage.  It was somewhat embarrassing telling people that my brother has cancer and is staying in our garage!  I now realize there were two reasons for this. By staying in the garage, Kozo was able to visit and say goodbye to multiple people at once and still allow for social distancing. Something that could not have been possible in a small bedroom.  And secondly, subconsciously, he must have known that we stored his surfboards up in the attic right above his bed! 

On Sunday, February 22nd, after a visit from his longtime friend Scott Hadly (2 high school students in suburban Fremont learning to surf together!) and a special visit by his loved ones from ServiceSpace, Kozo told Stacy and I, “I’m ready. I’ve been able to see who I needed to see, Beryl and the boys are going to be OK and I am at peace.  Don’t be surprised if I pass tonight.” He told Oliver, his dear friend who flew in from Hawaii to be with him that he would be gone before his plane lands back on the Big Island on Monday.  “Don’t worry Dougie, I am not going to be a burden, I am ready for this to be fast and not drawn out.” 

By Tuesday, the 24th, Kozo had lost the ability to speak or get out of his bed without me holding on to him. Our last real conversation was him asking me, “Why can’t I talk?” to which I replied, “It’s all part of the process bro.  Just let go.”  On Wednesday, my older brother John came to visit and was able to express his love and say goodbye. On Thursday, he was able to see his beloved boys and Beryl one last time, sharing some tears with Jett, giving Fox a thumbs up and truly connecting with Beryl .  The hospice nurse came to visit and doubted he would last another day but definitely expected him to pass by the weekend. 

On Monday the 1st, Kozo was still holding on.  The hospice nurse came in the morning and took his vital signs.  Blood pressure: 120/80.  Pulse: 67. Temp: 98.2.  She commented that his vitals were of a healthy individual and I told her besides the cancer, Kozo was the healthiest person I know.  However, I was confused as to why his vitals were so strong.  The nurse told me, “He still needs closure from someone. He is hanging on because there is still some unfinished business.” I told her that was not the case and my brother was at peace and was ready but she told me I should try and make sure there is no one else he needed to see in order for closure. 

At noon, Stacy called my mom to tell her she needed to come by and see her son one last time.   She immediately came over and within 15 minutes of her arrival and holding my brother’s hand, Marshall’s breathing changed to a shallower, slower rhythm.  I left the garage and let my mom be with her son so that they could be together and share love, compassion, and forgiveness.  My mom left at around 5 PM telling Marshall that it’s OK to let go and less than two hours later he was gone.

Although my brother and I went on completely different journeys (I can barely swim let alone surf!) one thing we did share was our love for dogs.  In a recent post on his blog titled My Life as a Dog he wrote, “If you can remain perfectly calm in traffic… If you see others succeed without a tinge of jealousy, If you can love everyone around you unconditionally, If you can always be cheerful just where you are, You are probably…. A Dog!  Kozo was the spiritual one in the family but the next time I see a story about a dog that loves to surf, I’m going to believe that is my brother enjoying life and loving unconditionally.  I love you bro!

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