After two and a half months in Virginia helping my family through a medical crisis, I am finally back in Kona for a few final months. Kona, Hawaii, where I moved with my late husband in 2001. This magical, special and most beautiful place where we made so many memories.
Mike is here. His spirit will always be here, to me, even as I take a part of him with me wherever I go. The sights, sounds and smells of this place are all triggers. Watching the sun set over the ocean. The crash of waves by the shore. The clean, briny odor of the sea, and perfume of flowers. The gentle breeze caressing the trees, and my own skin.
And the birds. Mike loved birds, and we believe, those of us closest to him, that he often appears this way to us now, in certain moments, swooping down over my head in the form of an owl, or a hawk, or a crow. But it is also the sounds of the birds here. It is unlike anywhere else. The wild turkeys gobbling their way down the driveway. The flock of wild parrots that famously lives on this mountain and noisily makes their daily sojourn over the house. And so many other unique chirps and calls of the avian wildlife here. Sounds that pull at my heartstrings, knowing how much he loved it all. He had an app on his phone that imitated the various calls and he would talk to the birds that way with great delight.
I am enjoying being here now but it is bittersweet. Knowing I cannot afford to stay in this place so dear, knowing my future lies elsewhere, knowing I am living in the final countdown, at least for this chapter.
I dearly loved my life here. I cannot describe the feeling of walking into a restaurant and seeing dozens of people I know, or running into an old friend in the grocery store. Small town life is like nothing else. The people here are lovely, mostly, full of aloha, love, and caring. Way out here on a rock in the middle of the Pacific ocean, we must care for each other. We must care for this place as much as possible. So it is unique. All of these islands out here are.
I can’t go anywhere here without thinking of him. The chair he sat in the last time we ate there. The wall where we stood together taking in the radiance of this little town with so much history. The favorite sushi place we shared his last dinner. The beach where he spent hours body surfing, and the road we drove, for hours, just to be in this place, just to see the trees, the pastures, the colors, the ocean, the mountains.
It feels like my heart is split in two. Half of it will always be here. That half will attempt to retain the magic of this place, and the years we spent here together. The other half is already gone. It is back East, with my family. It is back East, preparing my mind for the next chapter. It is excited for the future…it knows I am ready for it, in so many ways. As many beautiful memories this place holds, somehow, being here, it also reminds me of the four years since his death when I’ve lived in a kind of limbo state, one of deep grief, and relative inaction.
There is a lot to do. But there is also a lot to feel. I will be doing a lot of both.