Judson's Legacy


As we were driving into the Lawai Beach Resort complex today, here in Kauai, there was a firetruck responding to an emergency at the beach across the street.  We didn’t think much of it at the time and proceeded to our room.

About an hour later we decided to go for a walk and soak in some Kauai beauty.  As we walked toward the beach, we noticed there were several more emergency vehicles, along with circling helicopters.  It was clear that something was seriously wrong.

We found a shady spot in some grass adjacent to the beach and observed for a few minutes.  It sounded as though a search was underway to find someone in the ocean.  As a fireman passed by, we heard him saying on his walkie-talkie, “The body of the victim…” 

My heart sank.

A woman seated near us, informed us that a man and his wife had been kayaking in the ocean when their boat capsized (they were not wearing life vests).  The woman was rescued and taken to the hospital; it appeared that she was going to be okay.  However, they had not yet found her husband, and they were now just looking for a body.

Life changes in a moment.

My mind immediately went to the woman, lying in the hospital, being made aware that she may never see her husband again.  I imagined the two of them in their kayak… laughing, enjoying the majestic ocean, and feeling the lightness of being on vacation.  Maybe she had just splashed him with her oar, or maybe they were reminiscing about their last vacation when they went kayaking…suddenly, her life is turned upside down as her boat turns upside down.  

In the blink of an eye she went for having the “time of her life” to utter devastation as she unexpectedly loses her husband.

I also watched people on the beach.  While copters were still circling the ocean in search of her missing husband, two teenagers were rough-housing and wrestling each other in the sand.  Another couple decided to go back in the water and keep snorkeling.  Some surfers grabbed their boards and jumped back in the waves.  All of them probably took note of the tragedy for a brief moment, felt a pang of sympathy, and then went back to their lives as usual.  They probably even had an unconscious sense of invincibility, assuming there is little chance tragedy will ever strike them…just as I did a year ago.

But now I watched these events unfold with different eyes.  I felt it deeply.  I hurt so much for this woman that I wanted to go join her at the hospital.  I imagined what her life might be like now.  I pictured her flying back on the plane without her husband.  Image after image plagued my mind. 

As we sat there, a fireman walked a few feet in front of us carrying a kayak oar, one water shoe, and a waterproof camera-signs of the life that had been present just hours before, but now they were simply shadows of the man that was.

My mind and soul could not shake the scene; this capsized boat connected to my capsized life.

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