L-R: Arun Marballi, Kavita Marballi, Michelle Colesanti, Phil Colesant, Terry Vassalotti and Keith Vassalotti at Hālona Blowhole Overlook on Oahu.

The sun slowly set over the Pacific Ocean. Brilliant shades of yellow with hints of pink and red streaked across the sky, changing with each minute as darkness slowly crept toward me. Shadows fell on the dark lava rocks below where I stood, working their way down to the sea. The sounds seemed louder as the night unfolded.

Stepping slowly out onto the balcony of our rented townhouse, I stared at the sky, thinking both about the beauty of the moment and of the ugly turn of events occurring across the globe due to the coronavirus. This oasis in Kona on the big island of Hawaii has been slower than the rest of the country to show symptoms of this unwelcome pandemic.

Fear of the unknown follows us in this paradise. We are six couples on a reprieve from reality. This trip was over a year in the making. Now, our cruise around the Hawaiian Islands was canceled. With a little patience and a lot of luck, we were able to find this sliver of utopia.

We are so far from home, where life as we know it is falling apart. We hear the news in sparse amounts, trying to pretend all is normal for the moment. We are one entity away from it all and feel separated from the rest of the world.

During the week, we always felt that we were one step ahead of it, and at the time, I wished we could stay there in that moment frozen forever. But the sun finally set and darkness enveloped the beach. Ten days in Hawaii was coming to an end.

As the week went on, the numbers of those ill started to increase on the islands. Tourists represented the coronavirus. Hawaii started to close its doors. Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, its parks and the restaurants—all came to a crashing halt.

Knowing we’d soon depart back to the harsh reality, our senses heightened. I listened to the birds singing their unfamiliar yet beautiful songs. I watched and listened to the sounds of the surf pounding aggressively against the rocks, a sound that was both intimidating and relaxing at the same time. I imagine that long after humans disappear from this Earth, those songbirds will still continue their songs.

The TV is on. My friend is watching CNN. I don’t want to hear it. I know soon enough I will be living it with the rest of the country and the world. My family is back in Florida and that is where I need to be, even if I can’t visit with them. Alas, this Pacific oasis no longer wanted us. It was time to go home.