Friday, June 12, 2009

This manifesto was written by my cousin Christa; it is one of the most beautiful, moving pieces I've ever read and I couldn't wait to share it with you. With her permission, here it is:

Coffee Manifesto
by Christa Meyer Kaainoa

After my husband died, I vowed never again to drink bad coffee. And by bad, I mean any coffee inferior to the very best as determined by me. And by died, I mean killed instantly in a head on car crash at the age of 28.

My passage through the prescribed stages of grief was textbook: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance and ultimately, on to the final stage of the bereaved – finding meaning in the loss. Using the unthinkable, unmanageable, unbearable experience to answer the question “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose here on earth?” One thing I learned for sure is that my purpose here on earth is NOT to drink shitty coffee.

In our first and only year of marriage, Michael and I bought canned Folgers as a way to cut costs. I was working full time, but he was still in school, and it was a stretch to make ends meet. Once he was dead, though, I asked myself, what did that get him in the end? If he had been given the luxury of a death bed to lay on in his final hours, would he have lain there, reflecting on his life and said “Now that I know I’m going to die at 28, I am so glad we drank that shitty coffee and saved $20 a month. Look at all that $20 accomplished!” Would he have turned to me, his soon-to-be widow, and implored, “Don’t forget, Christa, a penny saved is a penny earned. ”

We’ve all heard that money can’t buy happiness, but you know what? Sometimes it can. I buy happiness by the pound, in glossy white and green sachets. I consume happiness in a smooth, shiny ceramic mug. Deep, dark, fragrant happiness that wraps its arms around me in the absence of a husband to do the job. When I take that first sip of coffee each morning, I literally stop and say out loud, “I love you coffee. Thank you for being in my cup.”

Translate: I love you life, thank you for letting me live today.

Over the years, people have insinuated that I should break my addiction to the stuff. That my daily coffee ingestion is synonymous with weakness. Listen, I could die tomorrow. I mean I could REALLY die tomorrow. As my spirit slips away from the shell of my body, what, of my earthly doings, will matter? I think the only things that will truly matter are acts of love… and good coffee IS love. Good coffee is self-care and making my own happiness a priority. Good coffee represents seizing the moment; making hay while the sun still shines. It’s a celebration of the now and of the attainable.

I learned a thousand things from loving and losing Michael – many painful lessons, a few that were sweet, all of them important. My personal coffee manifesto is just one tiny piece of my life experience. It may seem trivial to some, or insignificant. But for me, it’s a beautiful secret that I generally keep to myself and enjoy by myself. It’s my decision to love myself when I can.

Today in the break room I overheard a conversation between colleagues about the merits of various bad coffees. “Such and such brand is made locally, and it’s not too bad!” “Oh yeah, have you tried Brand X? You really save by buying it in bulk and it’s alright…” I sat, listening to their conversation, keeping my personal coffee policy to myself, privately relishing the fact that when it comes to coffee at least, I will not compromise, and daily, I treat myself to the best. Watching me sip my coffee, no one would ever think to themselves, “There’s just something about the way she drinks coffee that seems so strange, so powerful…” But I know. Drinking my favorite coffee is my own, secret, special, whispered promise to myself and to the world that I will appreciate what is good in life. That I will, as they say, drink it up.


Dena said...

beautiful and your poor cousin. i read this while sipping on my cup of coffee....i tried doing without this morning and just having tea (i'm trying to be healthy)...but after about an hour, I couldn't take it any longer and made a pot of deliciousness coffee...there is just something about slowing down, sipping that first sip and saying 'thank you'.

Dena said...

oh and please tell Opal Francita that I'm truly sorry

Leah said...

Here's to good coffee! And the life lessons we learn and chat about while drinking it. Wonderful piece.

Beth said...

That is absolutely beautiful and raw. Thank you for sharing.

Sara Kane said...

Sometimes the little lessons are the ones that make such a big difference in your day :)