THE BLOG
08/02/2010 05:42 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Life After Death

Coincidentally following up on my HuffPo on cloning and the afterlife, this entry is an entirely different view on the concept of life and death. It has been a year now since my wife passed away, captured in my Huffington Post article entitled, "Gratitude, Not Grief." That six-week period was gut-wrenching, where she was essentially in an induced coma and there was absolutely nothing I could do.

I remember breaking away one day to see the Academy Award winner, "Hurt Locker." Suffice to say that my mental state was such that I would have eagerly traded roles with the bomb defusing team in Iraq over my present agony in Honolulu.

The mental anxiety was overwhelming, but there were also a few unexpected physical effects. For the past few years I had made an honest attempt to shed six pounds and couldn't. Without realizing it, I weighed myself one day toward the end of this ordeal and found I had lost 11 pounds.

After 47 years of marriage, where, among other things, she looked about the same as when we first met and was admired as the nicest person anyone ever met -- plus the fact that we were best friends -- her sudden departure should have been devastating. Interestingly and amazingly enough, I experienced just the opposite reaction.

I wouldn't quite say I have been in constant euphoria, but, surprisingly enough, something very close, for if she had survived, she probably would only have been kept alive through a ventilator. This would have been terrible for her and for the family and myself. Her death was a parting gift, for she gave me a new life.

When I wake up every morning, my first scene is Kauakini Hospital in the background, where all of this occurred. Just my imagining that I no longer needed to trudge over to be by her side in intensive care provides the spark that gets me going. My attitude is further enhanced by a combination of a new free will and total independence. I only have a few years left and can do anything I want, including roasting a turkey, another HuffPost.

There was no healing process as such, but any sense of guilt--that I continue living, while she didn't, as our fondest wish was to somehow die together holding hands--is being eased by a purposeful mission to establish The Pearl Foundation as a tribute to her.

Pearl had a special love of a specific yellow tree, which was complicated because there are at least half a dozen such varieties, and, blame it on global warming, they sometimes now bloom more than once a year. I finally decided to search for the scientific name in the Orient, for the one that seemed to stand out was the golden tree, the Cassia fistula, the national tree of Thailand. Strangely enough, this national tree does not grow in Bangkok. I met with Hunsa Punnapayak, Head of Research at Chulalongkorn University, who indicated that he sees what appeared to be something similar to Pearl's tree on his way to Pattaya. He indicated that he would seek input from forestry colleagues he knows to identify the exact species.

I then went on to Delhi because I had a second mission. Every morning when Pearl awoke growing up in Hilo, she could see Mauna Kea, Hawaii's tallest volcano at 13,803 feet. She thus exhibited paintings and photos of this mountain in our apartment. Thus, part of her ashes were spread on this mountain. I decided that I would continue the ceremony at a few sites around the world where she had wanted to visit, but never did. Thus, I went to the Taj Mahal after Thailand, where I picked a perfect spot and had a private ceremony. My incredible India stopover was death defying.

Finally, finally, Pearl's sister-in-law, Gwen Nakamichi, found the scientific name and the tree on the Big Island of Hawaii. Called Cybistax donnelli smithii (CDS) I purchased two at a Big Island nursery and have them now planted on my roof.

My plans are to give one sapling and my book, "SIMPLE SOLUTION Essays," dedicated to Pearl (cover the same color as that yellow tree), which will be published in August, to everyone who donated to the Pearl Foundation. I have also initiated discussions with the Arbor Day Foundation to have them include the CDS in their free tree giveaway each year. In addition, there is a chance that agreement can be reached with the City and County of Honolulu to plant a bank of trees on the mountain side of the Ala Wai Canal. Finally, there is a possibility that a Boy Scout troop will take on a project to plant these trees at a site on the Big Island.

On the second mission, my fall around the world journey will include one additional ash spreading ceremony. I will perhaps post an article on this event after I leave that country. There have thus been eight such sites, which should increase to about a dozen by next spring, after which I plan to write a book on the experience.

So from death can come a new life. I feel re-energized as never before and look forward to the coming adventures.