It’s been over a month since Fire took an old friend’s life, a friend I neglected to visit for more than 50 years. She was a friend that held me in my youth and taught me some wholesome ways — and some not so wholesome ways — to show me the difference in the paths that life lays out. She gave me the best Brandy Alexanders to drink when the sun was setting and the most perfect mornings, quiet and still sleepy, into which to ride my bike several miles north to the long stretch of ocean where I’d swim its shores for two miles.
After climbing out of the salty ocean, the morning still quiet and not quite awake, I’d ride back through her still quiet essence to my small house, lusciously dressed in island foliage. I’d eat sweet strawberry papaya filled with cottage cheese and two poached eggs and decide what else I’d do to spend my time with this inviting friend: Walk the streets of her old historic storefronts, visit her harbor, visit with the locals, go back to her kahakai, her kai. Maybe again course through on another bike ride. She always invited one to feel into her lazy peaceful pace.
She held my youth in sweet aloha and ohana. But Life got in the way, and I failed to visit her since I sailed from her harbor 50 years ago. Now she’s burned to the ground. Even the boats in the harbor burned to the water. Though I now lament that I never will see her again, like the best of old friends she will always reside deep in my heart.
Lahaina was and is a spiritual being that embodied the physical presence of an old Hawaiian fishing village. But with all beings who take up physical residence, it was her time to move on. I will miss her. Her Hawaiian Ohana who were born and raised in her presence and shared her days will mourn her and miss her deeply. Someone, more than likely wealthy haoles, will try to rebuild her, but I’m confident her spirit will remain aloof, hovering, never to reside on that shore again.
I’m also confident that she will visit all who knew her well. Like the returning Kōlea bird, they will sense and hear an almost silent keening as her Lahaina uhane wafts up through their hearts and memories, like a soughing breeze and, like a good friend, all who knew her will feel her arms wrapping them in her uhane and aloha.
Eha loa ko’u naau. I lost an old friend the day Lahaina burned.