In 2014, Michael I and went sailing around the idyllic, picture perfect islands of French Polynesia (literally picture perfect – every vantage point looks like a screensaver).
When I say sailing, I don’t mean Jessica Watson style, but rather a slower meander between the islands of Raiteta, Tahaa and Huahine. Having been burned only 3 years earlier, and Michael having had only a handful of sailing lessons, I was pretty proud of ourselves. For years, this trip had been our dream. After a tough day in the hospital or in rehab, full of setbacks and doctors and bandage changes, I would lie back and say to Michael “One day we’ll be sailing around Tahiti and all will be OK”.
So, yes, even though we were mostly out of our depth, and definitely didn’t look the part, this was a special trip.
One morning we sailed into the harbour of Tahaa and proceeded to the first restaurant we saw (also the only restaurant on the island!).
“Iaorana!”, a young woman called out. She stood in the doorway to the restaurant, a beautiful little baby on her hip.
She didn’t speak English, but I spoke enough French to work out that the restaurant was owned by her father-in-law.
We’d just exchanged this basic info, when someone yelled at her from the kitchen and she thrust her baby into my arms. “Je reviens dans un moment” she said.
This baby was bloody adorable. Tahitian skin the colour of coffee, big dark eyes, long blond hair. He was content, and he was happy. He looked at me with his big brown eyes and I looked at him with my big green eyes. He giggled, I laughed. He touched my face with one of his teeny tiny fingers, and I kissed him on the forehead.
It was love at first sight (well, from me anyway. Can’t be sure what the baby felt).
His mum came back into the room, and I asked her what her baby’s name was.
As soon as she said his name I made a promise to myself – if I ever have a little boy, I’m gonna name him Hakavai.
Before we left, I took a photo of Michael holding this other baby Hakavai, and I made it the screensaver on my phone. Every time I looked at it, it reminded me to have hope.
Now, that photo has been replaced with a picture of my own Hakavai.
And that’s how Hakavai got his name.