Now, There Is More Than Before.

“When the eruption began,” Kanani told us, gesturing towards the distant volcano. “It was old lava, not fresh. Very old. Heavy, thick, viscous. Lava that was trapped underground, we believe, left over from previous flows.”

As we sat cross-legged on Honoli’i Beach, Kanani told us to close our eyes and listen for the voice of the land. The river meeting the sea. The waves hitting the smooth gray pebbles. The distinctive soundscape that’s unique to this beach, and this beach alone.

Then she told us her theory about last year’s eruption on the Big Island of Hawaii.

“Everything old, everything that needed to be purged and released,” she told us, “It was time for everything to come to the surface.”

That’s definitely how 2018 felt for me. It was a year of upheaval, disruption, and unexpected transformation. I’m not alone in feeling this way. Almost every single person I know—friends, family, clients, colleagues—seemed to have their own personal “eruption” last year. An illness. A harrowing phone call. A major change of heart. The lava came and it covered the earth and it could not be stopped.

“It swallowed the road,” Kanani continued. “Many homes were lost. And our favorite swimming hole,” she added, pointing south, “The lava took it from us. Gone forever.”

I remember that exact swimming hole. I’d been there just a month before the eruption began. A natural thermal pool, gently heated from beneath the earth. Sweet and serene. It was there for generations. Now it doesn’t exist. Erased.

“We lost so much,” Kanani added, speaking slowly, unhurriedly, not sprinting to make her point. She told us to watch the sky. When the clouds were burnished with a hint of gold, that’s when we’d begin our sunrise chant to greet the day. Then, and not a moment sooner.

“We lost our favorite swimming hole, but…we also received a gift,” she told us. “Because of the volcano, we gained four new swimming holes. Four. And a beautiful black sand beach. Now, there is more than before.”

Now, there is more than before.

These words have been echoing in my mind.

I can’t think of an elegant way to transition into the next paragraph, so I will just say it.

Last year, my relationship with Brandon ended.

This is the first time I have typed that sentence. Seven very difficult words.

We spent five years together. We built an empire of love. We started a restaurant business that grew from two employees (just us) to a thriving team of ten. We bought a house. We got a dog. We planted a garden. I wrote three new books and dedicated all of them to him. For Brandon.

We wandered through fish markets in Tokyo. We swam naked through biting, icy rivers. We held each other’s hands through broken bones and surgeries and recoveries. We made one million memories. Our dream was to somehow live to be 130 years old and then die at the exact same moment, transitioning into the next world together. We’d be cremated, we decided. Our ashes would be scattered in a sun-drenched vineyard so we could turn into vines. Forever and ever, we’d grow together, separate but entwined, side by side.

“I love you foreverly,” I would tell him.

“Do-si-do,” he would reply, our secret code for “snuggling close with our arms and elbows secured together.”

Everything was beautiful.

And then, with the explosive force of a volcanic eruption, everything changed.

I am not ready to write about “what happened with me and Brandon” in any specific detail. Maybe later, I will. Right now, it’s still too fresh.

I will say that after our relationship ended, I was wracked with a level of grief, rage, rejection, bewilderment, disappointment, and agony that I’ve never experienced before. I would get into my car, drive to an empty lot, roll up the windows for privacy, and howl like a wounded animal. I cried until every drop of salt water had been wrung from my body. I was tormented by my own mind. I tore through thousands of memories, trying to discover “what I had missed” or “what I could have done differently”…even though this mental-spiraling brought me no answers and no peace. This didn’t feel like a “break up” or a “divorce.” It felt like a death. The one thing, more precious to me than anything, anything, anything…gone.

Now, there is more than before.

When Kanani spoke to all of us, I felt like she was speaking directly to me.

As I write these words, I am looking at the ocean. Today, the water is silky, calm and still. Tomorrow, who knows? I’m sitting just a few miles away from the world’s youngest black sand beach. The beautiful newborn beach, forged from last year’s disaster.

Hawaii has five hundred acres of new land that didn’t exist before. Loss brings new life. Grief brings the opportunity to rise and begin again.

Even though my heart is still very tender and bruised, even though my optimism has been shaken and tested, I am choosing to believe that the best years of my life are not in the past. The best is still yet to come.

Many things have ended. Many things will be born.

Now, there is more than before.