Yet there was one story I’ve been telling myself again and again. In August 2011, Robert and I went to Hawaii for two weeks to celebrate his law school graduation (Kauai and the Big Island). We spent a day at Waipio Valley, an ancient, sacred valley of kings. Most people don’t go into the valley. Its private land, but one of our friends knows a local man. He said if he came with us, then we could go.
Robert drove our rental car, a four wheel drive Jeep Cherokee, down the mile long, one-way dirt road with no guard rail, multiple hair pin curves, and a 45% grade. It was essentially straight down. When we reached the bottom of the mountain, we ventured through two and a half miles of lush wilderness, over gravelly paths and rushing streams. Through palm trees, bananas groves, bright orchids and fragrant plumeria. Several wild horses approached our vehicle until finally we reached a waterfall at the back of the valley.
There were a handful of non-Hawaiian folks from Kona, a beach town about two hours away, swimming in the natural pool beneath the waterfall. Our friend’s friend, “the local,” encouraged us to climb the waterfall. He said there was a second tier with a natural Olympic sized pool created by an even larger waterfall above.
I gave it a valiant effort, but it was too hard for me. I was frightened of falling. So, I told Robert that I’d wait below and they should go ahead. He grabbed my hand to help me down, and as he did so, our rental car key—the one with the big sticker that said “Do not get wet or I won’t work” slipped out of his pocket into the murky depths below the cascading water.
His face turned ashen. This was not a clear pool. The water was dark green and cloudy. Nothing beneath the surface was visible. It would be miraculous if we found the key, and even if we did, we weren’t sure if the soggy chip inside it would still work.
The Kona crowd started hooting and laughing. “Hahaha! You’re screwed! You will never find that key! It’s impossible! People lose things forever in this water! Don’t even try!”
My friend and I held hands and began to pray. I prayed to God, and she prayed to God and to Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, so that all bases would be covered. Robert kept diving down, again and again, swimming deep under the water, making small circles around where he thought it dropped.
“Get ready to walk back to Kona!” our nay-sayers continued.
I imagined trekking through the rough roads, rivers, and banana groves, practically barefoot in my plastic flip flops that looked more like Barbie doll shoes. We’d have to retrace our steps, literally over rivers and a mountain, drive two hours and then spend several hundred dollars on a new car key. Such a terrible ending to an incredible adventure.
Robert repeated his dive under the surface, over and over for 15 minutes. My friend and I kept praying. Our audience kept laughing.
Finally Robert came up gasping for breath, triumphant. “I found it!”
Thank you, God.
The laughter stopped. “Wow, man, that’s pretty cool!”
“Yeah, good for you, I didn’t think you guys had a prayer!”
“Well, let’s just see if the key works,” I said nervously.
We drove off to the black sand beach, built a fire, watched the moon rise and cooked steaks on a stick over the open flames.
I remind myself over and over: Against all odds, we found the key. Maybe it’s a sign that some researcher will find an unexpected answer, a key if you will, to unlock this cancer.
Who knows! Anything is possible with prayer, determination and maybe a little luck.
Please continue to pray for my husband’s healing, the 30 other people in his clinical trial, and that the researchers will find the key to help them all.