Julee & Eric's Winning Entry
My parents are the greatest love story I have ever known and my biggest inspiration that true love can exist and last forever. Even at my loneliest times, when I thought I would never find love, I just looked at them and thought, it can happen. Their lasting love for each other kept me going. The Hale Koa Resort and Hotel in Honolulu was always a special place for my parents so it's heart warming that it is now very special to me as well.
My parents met in June, were married in August, and my dad was sent to Vietnam shortly after. They didn't get a true honeymoon vacation, but rather met up for my dad's R & R in Honolulu at the Rainbow Tower of the Hilton. Years later a more affordable option, exclusive to the military, was built: the Hale Koa Resort and Hotel. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, my parents started vacationing there to relive their "honeymoon" and make greater, lasting memories while they had the chance. My sister and I got to enjoy one family vacation with them at The Hale Koa before my dad passed. We have gone there a few times since then to enjoy some family vacations and feel that our dad is still with us, but our most recent trip was very special to me and the start of something new.
My mom wanted a family trip to the Hale Koa in 2012 to be able to spend Christmas and New Year's Eve in a relaxing environment. My mom, sister, and grandma arrived first, then me a few days later, and my boyfriend met up with us a week later. Although I was sad that he missed Christmas with us, he got to celebrate New Year's Eve with us. The Hale Koa celebrated New Year's Eve with a party at the Beach Bar and fireworks over the ocean at midnight. I had only planned on spending the evening celebrating with my family in my mom and grandma's adjoining rooms, but my mom highly encouraged us to go to the beach party. I had never celebrated New Year's Eve on the Waikiki beach and probably never would get this opportunity again so I gave in and decided Eric and I really should go.
At the party, Eric and I enjoyed a few drinks and a few dances, but mostly simply spending much needed time together. (We have dated for four years and have never had a weekend together due to our opposite work schedules.) At midnight we went out to the beach to watch the fireworks. I had never seen the Waikiki beach so crowded! It was a great show and after it was done, I asked if Eric was ready to go back to the party or if he wanted to go back to the room. He just stood there and said nervously, "Well..... I wanted to ask you something.... Well.... Okay, forget about all these people around us..." I said okay as he took my hands in his. He then said "Will you marry me?" And I said with a confused smile on my face "yeess.." while thinking in my head "We have discussed it and nothing has changed... things have only gotten better... I wonder why he is asking me now... in a really crowded place..?" And then, it happened. He got down on one knee and pulled a ring out of his pocket! I started crying and it felt like a bubble was forming around us. I did hear some muffled clapping in the background and a few people yell out "Congratulations!" but it was hard to hear or see anything. It felt like we were the only two people on that beach standing in the dark holding each other. We went back to the dance and had one dance together before heading back to my mom's room to tell them all the news and celebrate! My mom confessed that she already knew it was going to happen! She was able to keep it a secret from everyone our entire vacation. Before we even left Oregon, because my dad is no longer with us, Eric asked my mom her permission for my hand in marriage. She had told him "I would love for you to be my son-in-law."
Our most recent trip to Honolulu was the start of something new: the start of Our journey together. It is so special to me because it is the place that represents the start of my parents' journey together and the last place we got to have a family vacation with my dad. The Hale Koa will always remain a special place in my heart for my family and our past. It is now a special place in Eric's heart too, for Our family and Our future.