This went on for months. Gayland got sicker, and then he died, and my world just shut down to trying to make it from one day to the next. But these calls from Westin kept coming.
Until finally, on Valentine's Day, I said, "What is it you want?" And the woman told me that in the spring of 2017 Gayland had bought and paid for a 5-night, 6-day stay at a Westin Resort on Maui for two adults and two children under 18 and I needed to schedule it before the time ran out.
In a daze I listened to her explain that it came with a rental car and a $75 voucher for use on the resort and I needed to schedule my stay soon. I explained to her what had happened, and she immediately extended the deadline until September. After the shock wore off, I consulted with my daughter and we selected a date.
So on July 16, my daughter, my two grandsons, and I flew to Maui, courtesy of Gayland's Valentine's Day gift.
It was wonderful. It was heartbreaking.
He and I had stayed on Maui twice, most recently five years ago. Almost every day, he would say, "We have to bring the boys here." And I would agree. He was especially pleased to find a cafe in Lahaina called Da Kitchen, which he decided was Da's Kitchen (the boys call him Da).
When the plane took off I was almost overwhelmed with the sense of loss. His absence was so huge I could hardly breathe. He would have so loved to be there with us. He loved swimming in the ocean and he and the boys would have become waterlogged together. He would have snorkled endlessly with them. He would have loved watching them at the aquarium and urging them to try new foods. He would have loved their reaction to the volcano, to seeing all the new variety of birds and plants and all the colors the ocean can be from one minute to the next.
So I know he was smiling at their antics in the ocean and loving their having this time in a beautiful place. We came home full of new shared adventures and experiences.
They did love it, my darling, just as you knew they would. But it would have been so much better with you along.