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A Hui Hou Kakou

Thanks for all the kind comments about my last blog. I am touched that many of you were moved, and I appreciate your continued support.

My trip was not even halfway through after my whale watching and goodbye ceremony. The next morning I was picked up again by a shuttle bus, and headed to a beach for a snorkeling trip with Kai Kanani charters. Whenever Rich and I traveled to an ocean destination, we always snorkeled, and usually went scuba diving. I knew I wasn’t ready to solo scuba, but snorkeling? Piece of cake. Well, a day or so before I borrowed snorkeling equipment at the hotel and waded out into the ocean. Within minutes I found myself winded, and couldn’t quite settle my breathing. I could feel a little panic coming on, and clearly I did not want to have freak out all alone in the ocean. So I swam back to shore, and dejectedly returned my gear. As I trudged back to the safety of my pool chair, I worried: would I panic on the snorkeling trip? I knew intellectually I just had to regulate my breathing, and I practiced good old yoga breaths over and over, giving myself the only “support” I could.

So when I boarded that shuttle bus, my excitement was tempered. Luckily, I right away met two amazing women, Jodi and Kelsey. They were on a girls’ trip for a big birthday (I won’t tell which one, ladies!). We quickly realized that we had something in common: they lived in the Bay Area, not far from where I grew up. We chatted a bit, and hit it off, but I didn’t want to intrude. I wanted to hang with them, but I held back a bit so as not to seem pushy. We had to board the catamaran from shore, wading quickly through the surf to the boat. It was an exhilarating start, as the waves were a bit boisterous. But once we all scrambled up the ladder and settled in, the boat took off and we enjoyed a beautiful trip to Molokini crater, spying whales again as we went.

I sat next to Jodi and Kelsey, but again, I tried to give them space in case they didn’t need some sad sack old widowed woman harshing their mellow. They were having none of it. They included me in conversations, and, when it was tine to get in the water, they made it clear that I could swim with them.

I had confided that I was feeling a bit trepidatious about snorkeling. They confidently declared that I would be fine, but if I wasn’t, just to let them know. So, so kind.

As I climber down the ladder to the water, fixing my mask and fins, I had a matter of fact conversation with myself, and remembered my breathing rehearsals. I plunged in, and floated for a sec, before reflexively sticking out my right hand for Rich.

We aways held hands diving or snorkeling, making sure that neither missed a thing. But he wasn’t there this time. Regardless, I spoke to him, asking him to help me, and he did. I was instantly calmed, and whenever I felt tired or had a frisson of doubt, I just reached out that hand for him.

After Molokini, we headed over to snorkel with turtles, and then it was back to the beach (after a less than graceful departure from the catamaran and back through the swells. Quite a crowd watched as we disembarked, many with cameras at the ready. Somewhere out there is video footage of Jodi losing her suit in the process, lol). I parted ways with my new friends, but not before they invited me to join them and another friend at a luau the next night. Happily, I agreed.

But first it was back to the hotel to get glammed up for dinner. I took the delightful beach path yet again, this time to the Four Season’s where I had an amazing meal at Ferraro’s.

The next day I was lazy. I just felt like hanging in my hotel room, and I barely got out of bed, except to partake of the macarons and champagne left in my room on night one. To be fair I mixed the bubbles with my new fave juice, POG (passionfruit, oj and guava juices). Girl, this stuff takes your mimosa to a whole new level! I read a book, played on my computer, and just hung out for awhile, then finally got prettied up and headed back down my fave path to the luau at the Grand Wailea.

As much as I enjoyed all my alone time, it was awfully fun to share my table with some friendly faces! I’ve been to luaus before, and they are always fun.

The next day the ladies were hitting the same spa I had already enjoyed, and I had another very special adventure ahead of me.

As I have mentioned, I love doing research for trips. I want to know the best restaurants, can’t miss attractions, and special niche experiences not everyone knows about. My last full day in Maui was all about that.

I hopped in my car and drove north, where I met up with my guide. We were headed farther north, to Kapalua, for what was billed as a Spiritual Adventure. Along the way, we discussed my goals, and what led me to book this excursion. There is a stunning rocky outcropping at Kapalua known as the Dragons Teeth, and, at the top of the cliff, there is a labyrinth. This was a place to pause and process, and as one walked the labyrinth, to gain insight.

I had already let Rich go a little on this trip. Now, it was time to take a step forward for me.

I set my intention at the beginning of the path. On my way through the maze, I wanted to reflect on everything that had transpired since Rich first became ill. By the time I reached the center, I wanted to be ready to leave the ugly behind. I started crying almost instantly, and tears just fell as I wandered through. My guide kept her distance, just letting me be in myself. No other visitors approached until I was almost at the middle, and they all respected my grief. I paused in the center, hand to heart, and took a deep breath. I smiled, and cried, thinking of all I had lost and all the pain and fear and stress that had dominated the last 20 months or so. I exhaled, and stepped forward. As I traced my way back out, I tried to expel the bad of the past to make space for the good to come.

I silently left the labyrinth, and headed towards the jagged rocks ringing the bluff, and marveled at the power of the water to carve such stunning formations. Once again, the symbolism was not lost on me. I was tough, but the waves of grief and change were creating something new, and more beautiful. It will take a long time for me to figure out who the new me is, but I am working on it.

We left the bluff and headed to the beach. We rubbed our skin with a Kona coffee scrub and she guided me through some meditations. When we were ready, we plunged in to the sea for one last transformative moment — washing away yet another layer of the past year.

When we parted ways, I weirdly felt stronger, and more clear headed. The trip was fulfilling its purpose, and now I was ready for a little more fun before I had to go home the next day.

I headed up country in my little rental car, passing yet more stunning scenery on my way up to Ocean Organic Vodka Distillery. I don’t know what was better — the spirits we tasted, or the epic surroundings.

If I had had more time, I would have enjoyed lunch at this super cool venue, but I had a date with goats.

Just down the road was Surfing Goat Dairy, a working farm. I toured the place, met all sorts of fun and funky critters, and gave milking a try. I was not a natural (a suburban girl at heart, I’m afraid). Then it was tasting time (cheese, not the goats)!

Now it was time to head back to the hotel. For my last night in town, I was meeting my new friends again. We swapped stories of our every different days, and promised to keep in touch. They had a few more days, but I was headed home the next evening.

In the morning I packed, once again hit the fantastic breakfast buffet, then enjoyed some sun by the pool and walked along the beach, remembering all the things I had done and seen.

As I mentioned previously, this was more than a vacation. It was a renewal, and I did feel ready to take on my next phase, whatever that looked like.

On the ocean walk trail that I enjoyed every day, there had been scattered sacred spots. One such place had a sign that explained a Hawaiian funeral ritual. Of course this intrigued me, since my life had been so much about grief and loss lately. I liked the phrase they used during funereal rites — a phrase they still use in modern tongue: a hui hou kakou, which mean “until we meet again.”

A hui hou kakou, Maui.

A hui hou kakou, Rich.


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