When I was younger, I thought of Hawaii as a magical place. Couples honeymooned there. It was always sunny. I visited Oahu on vacation after college, and did the touristy things with my local friends. I always planned to go back with my children, and enjoy the warm water and miles of sand. And then my firstborn child died.
His name was Adrian, and his loss broke me. For several months, I functioned like a robot. I ate and drank and went to work, but the light was gone. I wasn’t myself.
Nine months later, and instead of booking daycare, I booked a trip to the island of Kaua’i. It was after Spring Break, and the island was quiet. It was also raining. I didn’t know it at the time, but Kaua’i is famous for its rain.
I remember dropping my bags at the front desk and walking tot he private beach in front of my hotel. The ocean looked angry, and the sky alternated between dark clouds and heavy mist. I walked a bit, jet-lagged and sleepy. I liked that it was quiet. I liked being alone.
I spent a week on Kaua’i, hiking and exploring. I took photos of random things that felt symbolic to me. I hiked the Sleeping Giant trail, slipping on mud and shielding my camera from the storms. And on my third day there, I bought a bikini.
I think one of the hardest things to experience after the loss of a child is that you still have a postpartum body. And although I had technically lost the baby weight, I still had a noticeable “belly”. I wasn’t ashamed of my body at all, but it did stimulate conversations. I realized when I bought that bikini, I finally felt ready to face them.
I hired a photographer, and we hiked together, exploring Kaua’i in the middle of storms. Prior to that trip, I might have complained about wind and mud and getting wet. But this trip felt different, and I embraced all of it. I embraced me, and my new world. And the clouds never quite cleared during my week there, but I was happy to let it storm.
Miranda Hernandez is a writer and mother to two children: Adrian James, who was stillborn at term, and his living sister, “Peanut.” You can find Miranda on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or on her website at https://adrianjameshernandez.com/.
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By Chizoba Anyaoha