It wasn't supposed to happen this way.
But here I am in this honeymoon suite, and she is gone.
It was the week of our 25th anniversary. We had planned this trip ever since the day of our first honeymoon. Back then we could barely afford the 3 days and two nights at the Motel 6, just 20 miles from our small mobile home. I recall how we enjoyed eating at McDonalds on that first honeymoon night, it was then and there we began talking, dreaming about the trip.
"One day we will be in a five star motel with the beautiful white sand of Hawaii beneath our feet!" I promised.
Louise chuckled; "Yeah, when that day comes, you'll see me in a yellow polka dot bikini!"
It was a fond memory, but a promise I never forgot.
That was 25 years ago. Finally, we scrimped enough to make our dream come true. We purchased a special honeymoon package about a year earlier with plans to celebrate our 25th anniversary here. We chose the Sunset Beach Motel, North Oahu, Oahu, Hawaii, USA. The brochure had enticed us by telling of the exotic, Polynesian-style accommodations. It was hailed as one of the most beautiful natural settings the islands had to offer; it was also listed as Oahu's Favorite Vacation Paradise!
Lou and I checked in then were escorted to our suite. Just after the attendee opened our door, I said, "Wait!" I emptied my arms of some personal items and scooped up my wife; at my age I somehow managed to carry her over the threshold into our luxurious suite.
Lou sweetly laughed, saying, "Mac. You silly ole man, put me down!"
From our balcony window, one could see for miles into the vast distance. The palm trees, white sand, sparkling blue water yoked to the foamy white waves were absolutely beautiful! It was indeed a paradise on earth!
We had enjoyed thirteen wonderful days together, glorious days! We experienced the good food and the fabulous entertainment. All this, along with the beautiful scenery, the precious native people and their warm customs simply astounded us.
But, the thing that we enjoyed most, was just being alone, the two of us, living out our long awaited fantasy.
Before ever leaving home, we made commitments to each other to leave the work and cares at home. We would not make or receive any unnecessary calls. There would be no date books, no computer, and no cell phones. We even purposefully kept the TV and radio off, and just listened to some CDs of oldies music we had brought from home.
Fourteen days to be absorbed in each other! Both of us felt we may never have another opportunity like this, so we wanted to savor each precious moment.
Sadly, we had one more day to go before this visit to heaven on earth would be over. Then we would return to our common lives back in Kansas. But, oh, what a wonderful get-away it had been; one we knew we would cherish for the rest of our lives!
The night before, Louise had mentioned her desire to take the last day and make a final trip down to the beach. She wanted to collect some much sought after souvenirs for our kids, grandkids and a few special friends. There was so much anticipation from them to receive a shell from this only dreamed about place, and she would never disappoint them. She was so thoughtful.
I couldn't help but notice it was an unusual morning as we headed to the beach, quieter than the other mornings had been. There were very few birds overhead, unlike other days when they seemed to be everywhere. Another thing that seemed odd was a strange, gentle, non-stop breeze blowing. I glanced around, noticing that the tide seemed to be out somewhat farther than normal.
But, my attention was drawn quickly away to my wife, yelling excitedly, "Honey, look at those shells!"
I turned and it was amazing! With the tide so far out; the beach was littered with all sizes and shapes of wonderful seashells. Her face beamed with joy at the prospect of such easy pickings! What's that old saying? "Like a kid in a candy shop!" That was Lou on that particular morning.
We had only brought a small basket with us, not anticipating such a haul. With nothing to collect them in, she put on her famous "puppy-dog look of sadness" face.
Disappointedly, she turned to me in that sweet childish way of hers, pleading, "Oh, sweetheart, be a prince? Would you mind returning to the room and get the large overnight bag that's in the closet, the black one with a red tag? Please Mac! I'll stay here and collect some shells until you get back, OK?"
Reluctantly, I agreed. Then, jokingly, I picked up a starfish, placed it gently on her head, then bowing the knee to her I said, "For the Queen of Oahu Beach, I'll do anything, but for a price."
Lou laughingly said, "What might that be, Prince of the White Sand?"
"A kiss from your royal lips, My Lady!" I stated playfully.
She yanked me to my feet, planted a little kiss on my forehead then said, "Now Mac, will you hurry, please?"
"OK." I started to leave, when something compelled me to turn back around. I walked again to where she stood and said, "Hey, lady...
Then I played one of our favorite question-answer games. This was a game played with the kids, grandkids as well as one we played with each other from time to time. It went like this: One person would ask; "Do you know what?" The other would answer, "What?" Then the answer would come back quickly, "I love you!" Of course usually followed by, oh, you got me!
I asked Lou; "Do you know what?"
She responded off guard, "What?"
I came near to her, looked into those emerald eyes of hers then said, "Lou, I really love you!"
She said; "You silly man, I love you more!"
At that, we embraced tenderly, enjoyed a rather long, passionate kiss. I never knew how precious that moment would become, just how much her kiss would mean to me after that morning.
Then, acting like a school boy, I tried to jump up to click my heels together, only to fall face first into the sand.
With red-face I snickered. As I walked away I called back to her, "That kiss was enough for the bag, but, I'll be back for more!"
With the thought of our deep love on my mind and the taste of that sweet kiss on my lips, I left her there as I began the five minute walk up to our motel.
I made my way up the long picturesque pathway towards the motel. It was located on a beautiful small knoll of sorts. It was elevated in such a way that the view of the ocean was absolutely gorgeous from any location.
I finally made it to the elevator, pressed the 10th floor button, and then proceeded up to our floor. The elevator music had been programmed to play Hawaiian music; it was playing one of our favorites, The Hawaiian Love Song. The door opened, I walked out, straining to hear more as it faded with the closing of the elevator doors. I walked lightheartedly down the hallway to our suite. I opened the door with the scent of her perfume still lingering in the air from earlier that morning. I smiled, thinking to myself, "My, how I love that woman!"
I found the bag; put the strap over my shoulder ready to head back to the beach. Before leaving, I casually strolled to the window to see if I could locate her.
Wow, what an amazing view! The beach was lined with ocean loving tourists as well as many native islanders. Sun bathers were preparing their colorful umbrellas as little kids played joyfully. I picked up my binoculars, raised them to my eyes, scanning the beach until I spotted her. Aw, there she is, I thought to myself. She was easy to spot in her yellow polka dotted full piece bathing suit, with the basket on the ground a little ways from her.
I gazed adoringly at her for a moment, not too bad, I mused, for a gal that had been married to the same old man for twenty-five years!
Then just before I headed back, I took a look up towards the horizon.
That's strange, I thought, the tide sure is far out.
"Oh my God, it can't be! No!" I screamed out loud.
I could see it in the distance, an enormous wall of water, higher than a house, quickly, furiously churning and closing in on those unsuspecting people, my wife included.
I threw open the gliding door and screamed at the top of my lungs. It was no use, no one could hear me. I was too far away and the roaring of the ocean was too loud!
Oh dear God, I prayed, what should I do?
Just then, I saw a few people pointing, waving their hands, flailing their arms in the direction of the giant water wall.
Then all pandemonium broke out! People started scrambling, screaming for their children as they began scurrying towards the higher ground.
Then in panic I again cried out desperately, "Oh my God, what should I do?"
I threw the bag down and went running furiously down the hall towards the elevator; I repeatedly pressed the button, it was no use, it wasn't moving.
Now a warning buzzer was screeching throughout the building!
Quick, I fled towards the stairway and started down the long ten flights of stairs!
Running, missing steps, jumping when I was able, finally rounding the third set, I saw water gushing under the door, creeping up the steps like giant talons of some hideous monster coming in for the kill! I began to cry as I grew sick to my stomach; the shock of what I saw causing me to nearly faint in my tracks!
I was trembling, screaming as I tried helplessly to open the door. I finally managed to wedge it open a crack. Before I knew what was happening, the water flung the door nearly off its hinges flooding over me instantly! I found myself knocked completely off my feet. Next, I was slammed against the steps as I felt my ankle crack! My head was throbbing in harmony with the pounding of my heart. My stomach churned as I tasted the unmistakable saltiness of sea water.
Panic was overtaking me! My heart was beating out of my chest as I struggled to get my head up above the water. Thank God, I found the railing with one hand, and then located a step with my foot. I was able to rise up just enough for a large gasp of air!
I quickly pulled myself awkwardly back up the stairs. Safely reaching the fourth floor I hurried to a window to see if I could get an idea of what was taking place outside.
The sight was horrible, a deluge! Water had completely surged up to parking lot signs, engulfing most of our motel; debris and objects swirling around like they had been tossed into a giant washing machine. Objects were being tossed like leaves blown in the wind. Even larger items were being dragged away, pulled along with countless screaming, helpless people, clawing for anything they could reach to hold on to.
Then I heard what sounded like multiple explosions as buildings crumbled. Countless trees had been snapped like crackers. It looked like the sea had just vomited its contents of seaweed, debris and ocean water. Then there came an eerie and ugly swallowing effect as the water started to rapidly recede, pulling with it everything that had been in its path. Automobiles were being tossed around as if they were toys. When it was finished the ocean made one final strange noise, it seemed to belch as if to signify the contentment of just having consumed a large satisfying meal.
I looked in horror as the water seemed to disappear into the horizon taking with it the treasures robbed from this island paradise.
Then it was over, deathly quite. It was as if Mother Nature had just flushed this ocean paradise, as the water quickly receded.
The beach looked like a war zone; nothing was left but a few broken tree stubs, numerous palm branches and rubble. What was more horrible, as far as I could see along the beach, there was not a single person insight.
My terrified thoughts seemed to be shouting in my head, "Oh God, please, not my wife! Not her, God. No!"
Once again, I ran down the stairs, this time I was able to get outside, pushing away the debris.
I witnessed the screaming, the crying of panicked people now running in every direction, calling out names of their loved ones.
It had been a Tsunami that struck land that morning. It had arrived like a thief in the night, bringing with it destruction and untold misery. No one suspected it. There had been no warning.
Quickly, I ran down to the beach, dodging people, jumping over broken limbs, concrete blocks, etc. My head was throbbing; my heart was pounding as if they were in competition. I was crying and yet screaming at the same time as I called out her name. "Lou, Louise!"
Where was she? Oh, where was she?
I grabbed my wallet and searched for a photo and found one of us a few summers back. With shaky hand and breaking heart I proceeded to go from one person to another, showing her photo, asking, "Have you seen this woman?" Over and over, I searched every building, made several trips to the local authorities, but the same answer was given each time, "I'm so sorry, I haven't seen your wife.
After spending most of the day searching, I knew I had to call our children and inform them of the day's events. I just knew it would be one of the most difficult times in my life, and it was. Our children wept over the phone and offered to come to me, but assured them that there was nothing anyone could do. I encouraged them to stay home, to do their best to inform our friends, and to pray, pray, pray!
I searched day and night, until I was exhausted. I combed the beach, looked at photos that had been posted all over the island. I visited the local hospitals over and over. I listened to news reports; spoke to thousands of people, searching for my love.
I could recall times of sorrow and heart breaking pain when I had lost loved ones in the past, but nothing compared to the aching in my heart. I wept until I could not weep any more. I beat myself up over and over, wishing I had not left her that moring, but how was I to know. No one knew, and many dear people suffered loss in the same way as I was. So many had lost children, in fact entire families were swept away, it had been awful.
I stayed for several weeks thereafter, but to no avail.
Alas, I fear I have lost her forever!
Why, oh why could it not have been me?
So today, I made a final trip back to our honeymoon suite for a final goodbye.
Standing again in what was once our dream room, it was as if I could still smell the fragrance of her perfume lingering in my thoughts.
I remembered the beautiful music from the elevator. I imagined taking her in my arms and waltzing around the room.
I remembered her warm smile that day. I thought of her childish insistence for me to return to get that bag for those stupid shells.
I drank deeply of the memory of my wife, my friend, my Queen.
I remembered my love's embrace on the beach that fateful morning, her lips against mine, in that sweet, last kiss.
Special thanks to Edith Ragan, Siona Edffield and Joyce Shepherd for their wonderful help in editing and reviewing. Thank you!
Written by Loyd C Taylor