I was walking in the hallway when I ran into my colleague, Kim, the woman who quickly became my friend during our orientation here at the organization. All hallways lead to an intersection that often creates quite the traffic jam. You always have to dodge a human or two and do a side-step-awkward-pantomime-act. As fate would have it, Kim and I bumped into each other and both our faces lit up. She was bundled up in a jacket, hair tied back, and her bright pretty eyes shining in contrast of the green scarf wrapped around her neck.
We did our usual quick-to-the-point-in-passing-getting-straight-to-the-nitty-gritty-2-minute-catch-up: how was your trip, family, and break up—we have mastered this quite well. As she was sharing her current news, my hands found their way into my pockets. I was wearing for the first time, Mama’s classic black high-waisted slacks that I brought back with me from my recent trip home to Hawaii. As my fingers found the bottom of my pockets while listening to Kim speak, I felt a tiny hard little object. Puzzled, I pulled this tiny object out of my pocket, glancing at it and realizing it was a tooth. Kim stopped her story after seeing my reaction and glanced at the baby tooth I was holding. “What is that?!” I knew without a question, that it was Nimai’s, my now 28 year old, younger brother’s baby tooth. I felt a flood of Mama’s presence, our childhood, her love, memories, and nostalgia wash over me. I imagined that she put that baby tooth in her pocket some decades ago playing tooth fairy, grasping it in her fingers through that day and smiling to herself at how much she loved her children. I could feel how these little things were so precious to her and I found it to be of no coincidence that I would find myself years later wearing these pants and experiencing her joy all over again—as my own.