You’re still slumbering as I draft this letter, but in a few hours you will be on route to Kona. When you first asked me to come with you, my heart swelled, and a sweeping tide of excitement spilled into me like the ocean in the pools at our place of sanctuary. In that moment I realized my heart never stopped beating in rhythm with Hawaii, but also that you were afraid to go alone. And that you must.
We would’ve had fun, just us girls, devouring Hawaii’s bountiful healing energy and feasting on photography and self discovery. We’d have indulged in deep discussions on the lanai, snorkelled with dolphins, and maybe even painted our toes hibiscus red. And we will still do that, just not this time.
I want to say Hawaii changed me, but that wouldn’t be accurate. When you brought me to the island you gave me one of the greatest gifts a human being can ever receive, which is to know thyself. I revisited my roots when I stepped foot on that Tarmac. The smell of the salt water and the weight of humidity in the air blanketed my body in a nostalgic familiarity of home that my mind had nearly forgotten. It forced me to face a part of myself I had buried a long time ago and feelings I had never allowed myself to process came crashing in. I finally grieved the loss of leaving Okinawa so unexpectedly as a young girl, a loss that had left me fragile and fragmented well into adulthood. The part of me that I had tried to bury, the tropical, sun loving, ocean craving, care free, little girl came back to me. She welcomed me with open arms, and together we wept at the seashore. So you see, Hawaii didn’t change me, Hawaii returned me.
Now this moment is for you. This is your time to visit the Island alone once again and discover what she has to offer you. You need time alone to face yourself, embrace yourself, to forgive yourself for the self imposed shortcomings you’ve carried last few years. Forgive yourself for not continuing on with your peers when you thought you should have, forgive yourself for feeling left behind, forgive yourself for being ambitious and also not ambitious enough. (You have such high expectations, don’t you?) You’ve made some incredible choices and achieved great strides since your first visit to the Island, allow all of them (even your perceived failures) be a part of who you are today. Don’t fragment yourself into several different Jackies. Embrace all aspects of you, because this is what makes you a strong healer. Come face to face with yourself in the safest place in the world. Be honest with your intentions and let the island remind you of how strong you are, because we both know you will need that strength in 2017.
You took the role of guide on your last few visits to the island, keeping a constant eye on your guests and their experience, and it forced you to keep distance from the island’s healing and the connection to yourself. You allowed me to experience the beauty and magnificence for the first time in trusted hands, which I will be forever indebted to you for because it facilitated a cataclysmic moment in my soul searching journey. But now it’s my turn.
Every morning we were in Hawaii you always had an offering for the Island. Sometimes it was flora or fauna, sometimes even fruit, but you also always offered a part of your heart. In fact, my first experience in Hawaii was you giving an offering to the ocean at the Place of Refuge. It was the first thing I photographed.
This is my mōhai. An offering you can bring to the island this time. And that is you, nervous and even a little scared to be alone, ready to experience Hawaii’s magic again for the first time. And a piece of my heart, which is always with you.