This time last year Jen and I were headed to the Big Island. We were celebrating after two tumultuous years dealing with my cancer. I was in remission and walking again. It still blows my mind that I was able to recover my ability to walk. I find it to be one of my more satisfying achievements though if I hadn’t survived it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. But it was my medical team and my body responding positively to the treatments (luck that was at least partially genetic) as the reason for me being here today. It may be that my dogged pursuit of getting back on my feet helped my recovery overall. Anyway it was something that could occupy my mind other than worrying about how my cancer treatments were going.
We chose to visit the Big Island because of the eruption that began on May 3, 2018, just as I was beginning chemo for multiple myeloma. Several live streams emerged online and I watched every day as the eruption intensified along a rift zone on the eastern flank of Kilauea in the middle of a neighborhood called Leilani Estates in the Puna District. Fissures on the rift zone opened up as the lava lake at the summit (that had boiled and bubbled in the caldera for years) suddenly began to drain out and pour into the rift zone below.
Nearly thirty fissures opened up along the rift zone but the one numbered fissure eight became the dominant expeller of lava. A river of fast moving lava careened down to the ocean burying everything in its path and adding over 800 acres of new coast. Unfortunately many homes and structures were buried leaving over two thousand people homeless. Watching that river of red hot lava day after day was mesmerizing I couldn’t help but compare it to the red hot blood coursing through my veins. For some reason I found comfort and connected with it in an almost spiritual way. Lying in bed watching the lava flow I made it my goal to visit the Big Island if I survived (and got back on my feet) to hike across a lava field. On January 17, 2020, Jen and I hiked across the lava bed of Kilauea Iki in volcanoes national park.
The Big Island is incredible and our time there was so special I was pinching myself the entire time we were there. And it was just in the nick of time because as we all know it wasn’t long before all hell broke loose and here we all are still dealing with a pandemic and all the fallout. Life lesson, don’t hesitate to do whatever it is you wish to do today because it may not be possible tomorrow.