Ten days into her first-ever visit to Kauai, Melissa Mojo experienced a phenomenon that made her leave her lifetime home in New York and move 5,500 miles away to the Garden Isle.
Sitting in the living room of her vacation rental, she had experienced a “fit of well-being,” in which a light, joyful energy infused her entire body, beginning in her heart.
“It was really different from the emotional heaviness I had always carried,” she says. “I was wrapped in happy contentment for a few lovely hours. I hadn’t felt so good since childhood.”
Returning home to New York, Melissa, who had given up her high-powered corporate career four years earlier, sold her house, shipped her belongings and moved to the island in 2006.
Within one year on Kauai, things that had been brewing in New York quickly came to a head: her 16-year marriage fell apart, she was filled with loneliness and she was slowly dying of cancer.
Yet she knew she was in the right place to find whatever she needed to be healed.
Drawn to the ocean every afternoon, most often Moloaa Bay on Kauai’s northeast shore, Melissa would walk along the sand, gazing at the gorgeous colors of the ocean.
“One day as I was standing at the edge of the water, I looked down and saw beneath the surface a piece of white coral in the perfect shape of a heart,” she says. Feeling joy in the lovely gift she had been given, she brought the heart-shaped piece of coral home and placed it on her nightstand, where it became an integral part of her healing ritual.
“Every night I would clasp the coral heart to my chest and envision my fear and resistance melting away,” she says.
And every day as she walked along the crystalline, turquoise waters of Moloaa Bay, she found more hearts: coral hearts, rock hearts, even a tiny blue glass heart, all in varying shapes and sizes. Some were beautiful; others were hideously ugly. It didn’t matter – each one of them spoke to her own heart.
“Every time I found a heart, I would hear my own heart reminding me, ‘You are lovable. You are on the right path to finding true love – both inside and outside of yourself.’”
About one year later, Melissa felt fortified enough to undergo major surgery, which proved integral in saving her life.
“I turned the corner of my illness. I regained my strength. My hope returned,” she says. “The coral hearts gave me the courage and stamina to persist. They saved my life.”
Two months after her surgery, Melissa felt called to join an online dating service to find a man with whom to share her life.
It was awkward at first. She had last been part of the dating scene 20 years before. But soon she began having fun with the process, meeting men online, talking with some via telephone and Skype. But none felt like “the one.”
Then one day she saw an ad for OkCupid.com, a free Internet dating service based in New York. She signed up.
Judah from Denver
Meanwhile, a man in Denver, Colorado, named Judah Freed, had decided that he was finally was ready to connect with his life mate. He began creating a vision board, a montage of cut-out images from magazines, to help him visualize what he wanted, including images that represented the qualities of his desired wife.
“As an afterthought, I added the tailfin for a Hawaiian Airlines jet onto my vision board, thinking maybe we’d get to honeymoon in Hawaii,” Judah says. “I had always wanted to visit Hawaii, and a long time ago I had been told by an astrologer that Hawaii would be one of the best places on the planet for me to live.”
After trying other Internet dating sites without success, Judah signed up for OKCupid.com.
Shortly thereafter, Melissa saw on OKCupid.com a man who the computer dating site told her was an 88 percent match to her own profile. “When I read his profile, I felt as though I had could have written it myself,” she says. It was Judah from Denver.
She contacted him through the site. He was intrigued but replied, “I looked at your profile and we do seem to have a lot in common and you’re very cute. However, you’re in Hawaii, and I am in Denver.”
Melissa replied, “So what? Distance is solvable, but chemistry is not.”
“That got my attention,” Judah says.
After many emails, phone calls and long talks via Skype over their computers, Melissa was confident enough in their relationship that she flew to Denver to spend time with Judah in person. When she saw his vision board with the Hawaiian Airlines logo on the tail of the airplane, “I knew he was the sweetheart I’d been looking for.”
Melissa told Judah everything she could about her home, describing the island’s beauty, the wonderful people who live here and the healing she was experiencing on Kauai. Soon he began to imagine himself living on the island. This was good, Judah says, “because when I asked Melissa to move to Denver, she said, ‘I love you, but why would I leave paradise?’”
When Judah visited Kauai, Melissa took him to Moloaa Bay. There, at the beach that she had told him was her favorite for its beauty and heart-shaped coral gifts that helped save her life, he proposed marriage to her. Six months later Judah joined Melissa on Kauai permanently.
Shortly after their honeymoon, Melissa returned to Moloaa all of the coral hearts she discovered during the most difficult time of her life – except for one.
“I kept the first coral heart I ever found,” she says. “It still sits on my bedside table as a reminder that I am loved, and that all I have to do in my life is open my heart and let love in.”
Pamela Varma Brown is the publisher of “Kauai Stories,” and the forthcoming “Kauai Stories 2,” which includes Melissa and Judah’s story in more detail.