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Hawaii's Lingering Magic
Dedicated to My Husband Jeff
Submitted by Marilyn
A decade ago--when we were newly married, still had two incomes and no children--I convinced my husband to take a trip to Hawaii. As Midwestern public-school teachers, we had to scrimp and save to do it, but we went. The experience turned out to be so wildly romantic and so utterly breathtaking that we've never forgotten Hawaii's magic.
We visited Oahu first, learning Pearl Harbor's history, taking in the colorful sites of Honolulu, traveling across the island to the cultural center and snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. After only a few days, we traveled to beautiful Kauai. We walked along the beach holding hands and had long, private conversations that strengthened our bond as a couple. Until then, I hadn't realized how busy our lives had become, how hectic our workdays were, but we recognized the difference while away. We commented on how we'd missed this time for connection and vowed to never again let the stresses of life interfere with the simple joy of sharing ourselves and being together.
We concluded our trip with a stop in Maui where, despite the brevity of our visit, the island's enchantment offered many romantic gifts: A drive along the famous Hana Highway, a glimpse at Lindbergh's home, a chance to admire Mt. Haleakala, a few gorgeous sunsets over the water and a heart-stopping Fourth of July fireworks display. We returned home with satisfied souls and the certainty that the spirit of the islands would remain with us forever.
And it did.
To this day, my husband still talks about how relaxing that trip was, how amazingly beautiful. He laughs about the tongue-burning "chili cook-off" we went to one sunny afternoon in Kauai and our luau with delicious roast pig and fresh pineapple wedges. He even reminisces about discussions we had over macadamia-nut parfaits or about the night we chased geckos our of our hotel room. Every moment was pure delight, a bright spot in our memory.
This past fall, his mother--a warm and vibrant woman who's been the center of our family life for years--collapsed from a brain aneurysm. Though she survived the emergency surgery that followed, she never completely recovered. For the past several months, my husband has spent evenings with her at the rehabilitation center, trying to help her relearn walking, talking and eating independently. Even so, her prognosis is not optimistic.
My husband returns from these visits sad, frustrated and emotionally drained. I'm helpless to do much more than support him and try to keep our home life from veering too far off kilter while he deals with this family trauma. Recently, he said he doesn't feel the year holds much to look forward to but, when I reminded him of our happiest moments--the day of our engagement, our Hawaiian adventure, our son's birth--and told him we could create new memories, he brightened considerably. It was as if he remembered that love's magic still remains, despite tragedy. And that gave us hope.