I am not a mother. Unless you want to count my cat-daughter Lucy. But technically she has an automatic feeder and a litter box that makes her pretty independent! I have an amazing mom. She's fearless. In honor of mother’s day and moms everywhere, I wanted to showcase some highlights from our recent mother daughter trip where we spent 8 nights island-hopping in Hawaii.
Before we dive into this Mother's Day post, it is imperative that I preface this story with another story. A very close friend of mine lost her mom last fall. She was like a second mother to me and a best friend to my mom. I would be amiss if I didn’t mention Jean in this story as she was a huge part of my memories growing up in North Dakota. Our families traveled together, we ate mountains of her famous caramel brownies and shopped the flea markets at Shady Hollow every summer. Mother’s Day should be a day we celebrate all mothers! Please don’t forget those people who have lost a parent. And please don’t ever stop telling stories. Jean was a light in this world and will never be forgotten.
We took that light with us to Hawaii. Not too long into our adventure we both stopped and reiterated how lucky we were to be able to do this together. And in such a beautiful place!! Each island was starkly different from the next. Kauai was like living in a giant Green House. Oahu was a bustling city on one side and laid-back beach vibes on the other. And Big Island… well the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire has been more active in the past few weeks than in the past 35 years.
Everything lined up perfectly. I wish as the travel agent I could have taken credit for the epic sunsets and sunrises, active lava in the Kilauea crater and rain that would magically part into a rainbow. There was something greater happening. We snorkeled with a friendly sea turtle. We even had a whale sighting, long after whale season had ended. We had a blockbuster mother/daughter photo shoot where the rain clouds literally circled around us with light shining down on our little patch of the park. I'm talking, not one drop of rain! Perhaps one of the most spiritual moments happened on our last night in Hawaii. We attended a champagne sabering at the St. Regis where this adorable Hawaiian elder presented a few songs. He explained that they celebrate the end of every day at sunset. He thanked the crowd for joining him. At the end of the ceremony, he walks over to my mom and gives her a hug (the ONLY person he hugs in the entire place) and says, “Thank you for smiling at me during the ceremony!”
We had the BEST time together. We laughed. We cried. We talked about life stuff. Mom told stories about past trips to Hawaii. I would tell her about my adventures as a travel agent. We drove pretty much every mile of the Big Island, Oahu & Kauai. We had beach picnics. We saw a lot of roosters in Kauai. And we reminded each other to breathe after views had literally “taken our breath away”.
Some would say we were due. The last trip my mom and dad took to Hawaii, she came back alone. Striking statement to read but this was our reality in 2006. My dad died while they were in Maui celebrating their wedding anniversary with none other than Jean & her husband. Their support continued for years to come. Can you imagine my surprise when my mom said she was ready to go back to a place that held such difficult memories?
Do I dare say there was something happening around us? Some people might say it was random or just good timing. But it’s tough to credit randomness when you look at all the crazy things that happened to us. Another example from our trip- on the island of Kauai, Mel Rapozo was running for mayor. My dad’s name is Mel, for those of you who don’t know. There was a sign for Mel Rapozo on literally every corner in town. What’s funny is that Mel is not an extremely common name, let alone a common name in Hawaii. We would occasionally look at each other and just shake our heads. We both felt what was happening. No words needed to be exchanged.
What about this sign from a shop-- "Everything is going to be OK". I remember days when I would pray for "OK". I just wanted to feel some sense of normalcy again. What you need to remember about your friends in crisis is that it's incredibly difficult to believe that ANYTHING will ever be OK. When your whole world has been rocked, the last thing you want to hear is that "It's all going to be okay" or "Everything happens for a reason". You simply need someone to be there for you. To listen. To take you out to do things. Funny enough, one of the first examples I think of is Jean doing this for my mom after my dad passed. And when Jean was struggling, my mom was there for her too. That's what good friends do.
What I can say from my own experience (because that's all we can do) is that beautiful things can come from ugly experiences. It probably won't be happening right away, or even next week. It may take years. But if you are waking up every day and making the most of each moment, you will see beauty again. It will be hard. It will take work. But it is so worth it!! And as time passes and your life continues to evolve, the pain becomes less intense. Words like OK and GOOD may even creep back into your life. Let it happen.
Here’s a letter to my Mama on this Mother’s Day.
This trip had redemption written all over it!! The fact that you even said “yes” to this trip, is honestly amazing. You never give up. Life has handed you adversities and you just keep going. This resiliency is a constant inspiration for me. I continue to replay these memories and will for years! You are the bravest person I know. I was waiting for you to say no or ask to skip some part, but it never happened! You were fearless. You were hungry for life experiences. You were never scared. The closest you came to backing down was recommending we take an uber to the start of the Diamondhead trail. To which I replied, “Do you think we could take an uber to the HIGHEST lookout and ask the driver to take our picture?”
I am so fortunate to call you mom. I love you so much!!!
P.S. Mom, you are also my editor so if I have any mistakes in this article, it’s because I am trying to surprise you for Mother's Day. I hope you have a day filled with green houses and Dr. Pepper.