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Life Without a Picture

Life Without a Picture

(Wed) February 16, 2005

C.J. Tausaga (Aiea High School)

They say that pictures speak a thousand words. Without a picture, those words disappear. Nobody ever knows what he or she is missing until it is gone. That small portion in time can change your life. We don't realize what we have, and we don't take advantage of it.

I never did get to take a picture with my Idol, and that is something that I will regret and have to live with for the rest of my life. All it takes is two seconds to take a picture. . . and I couldn't even do that.

A quote that Ikaika Tan had used in his college entry essay speaks the truth of what we are obligated to live with, "Challenges are what makes life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful" (Johan J. Marine).

Before the Christmas break of my senior year, I had met a person that I've seen and heard about for two years. Paul Michael "Ikaika" Tan, better known as Ikaika, played football for Kapolei High School's Varsity football team as a slotback, cornerback, running back, and also linebacker. For two years I have heard the name Ikaika Tan announced on the stadium sound system and on the TV, I have only known about him as a player on the field and not in person.

I remember people telling me as I was getting prepared for practices against Kapolei, who I would be facing that week. "You're going to be playing against the best slotback in the state. He's fast, he has hands, and he can hit. Don't be fooled by his routes, he will take advantage of it and beat you."

As game day approached, the first play of the game I actually got to meet face to face with the best slotback in the state. To my surprise, he was the same height as me. As I was concentrating on my receiver, I took a peek inside to look at the quarterback. I noticed that the slotback was looking at me. At first I didn't think it was he, until his big radiant smile sparked right through his helmet. By him smiling at me, I'm thinking, it's bad enough that he's fast, and now he is smiling because he thinks he is going to beat me. That wasn't true. His smile wasn't a sign of hatred or, I'm going to get you kind of smile, his smile was a sign of friendship.

The ball was hiked, and as if everything was going in slow motion, the quarterback took two steps back and handed the ball off to the running back. The receiver had run a vertical route. The ball carrier was coming my way. A lineman along with Ikaika came rushing at me. My body becomes tense as I anticipate the impact, and a surge of force strikes me, as if a car had hit me. I had flown back and hit the ground. As I am struggling to get up, Ikaika approaches me and lends a hand to get a grip for my balance. He said, "Good job seven." For a moment I was stunned. Out of all the things he could have said, he said that. From that point, for those five seconds, I had gotten a good impression of Ikaika. That night at home after the game, I told my parents "Oh man, that Ikaika guy is fast, he's good, and the one thing that I like about him was he showed a lot of class. He told me "Good job seven, " I was like wow! He actually told me that, and he doesn't even play for my team. That's pretty cool.

Two years of playing against a really good slotback - - he didn't only play slotback, he also played cornerback - - I was able to meet him in person. Ikaika and I were selected into three teams for postseason honors in the state, the 2004 All-State team, OIA all-star team, and OC16's All-Katoosh team. It wasn't until the all-star game that we were able to meet. I was finally able to meet the person across the line of scrimmage, who always had the opposing smile.

On the first day of practice, the Aiea boys and I were walking onto the field at Aloha Stadium and noticed that all the Kapolei football players were there sitting down on the football field. I was a little shame to go up to the players and shake their hands. So I had just sat down. To my surprise, a person had walked up to me and shook my hand. I had looked up and this person stared down smiling at me. I had recognized that smile from playing on the football field. He sat down beside me talking about past games that we had played against each other and I had told him things that I would never tell anybody, and it was a friendship in the making. He was the person that loved to listen to what you'd have to say. For Ikaika, he would listen but at the right given moment, he would crack a joke. Ikaika was that person that would only be serious when he had to. He was the biggest kid, and everybody has a little kid in them, but he wasn't afraid to show it.

Two days before the all-star game he was waiting in the parking lot, all ready for practice and we had walked into the stadium together. I asked him about his girlfriend and he had told me she was resting, because she was pregnant with his baby girl. As he mentioned baby girl, his face lit up and his smile had gone all the way up to his ears. All we talked about that practice was his baby and how excited he was. I had asked what he was going to name her and he said Riley Kaikamahineli'lani Tan. At first I couldn't get the Hawaiian name because Hawaiian names are like 26 letters long.

In the two weeks of practices I don't think it was hard for you to spot us, we returned kicks, we both played the same position before he switched to offense. Basically, wherever you saw him is where you'd find me.

The day before the all-star game he didn't come to practice and some of the other players had told me that his girlfriend had given birth. I was real excited for him and couldn't wait to congratulate him. Whenever you had mentioned Riley around him, not the normal smile would come out, but an even bigger one.

At the pregame meal Ikaika walked into the school and I had gone up to him and told him congratulations on his baby, and a big smile came out. He was the happiest person that I had ever met. I had told him "Eh, man, if you need a babysitter don't be afraid to call, " he laughed and said "Thank you." He loved to talk about his daughter all the time. He loved her dearly.

During the all-star game I had gotten hurt and was on the sidelines sitting on the bench when he came by and started to comfort me. He knew that I was hurting so he tried to cheer me up and started to make me laugh. What he didn't know was that I was hurting in my stomach, so him making me laugh was funny but also sore at the same time.

In my head I am thinking, man for someone to be able to joke around with you a lot, and have fun with you, and you had only known each other for two weeks, is awesome. To learn so much from a person within a two week span and for that person to have a big impact on your life is something special. I am honored and it was my pleasure to play with and against such a greathearted, good spirited caliber athlete such as Ikaika.

Ikaika Tan passed away in January 5, 2005 in a single car accident where he was in critical condition and later died at Queen's Medical Center. Many will remember his skills as the top notch cornerback/slotback for the Kapolei High School football team. I will remember him as an older brother and a person that had opened up my eyes and taught me to never give up on life.

When somebody you love becomes a memory . . . that memory become a treasure.

Now I ponder on just why? Why couldn't I just take five seconds to be able to get a picture with my idol?

As my senior year quickly passes by, I will cherish every moment that I have had an opportunity to spend with Ikaika, his family, his fiancee Nikki, his baby girl Riley, and all the people of Kapolei. Nothing is guaranteed forever, pictures and memories are guaranteed a lifetime.


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