How Can My Newfound Faith Replace a Broken Heart?

"Losing Moanalei in the tsunami wave haunts me still. I am as hopeless as a broken canoe in a storm, when I think of the tsunami day. Finding my sweet child lifeless, reminds me that life is cruel"


For the memory of 2009 tsunami victims and my daughter Moanalei.

Today when you walk through Lalomanu, the sea follows you everywhere. It is as if she still beckons for your forgiveness. The church with her large windows and her silence stays revered but distant still. And the children, in their Sunday attires look ever so innocent. The church bell echoes through the village as if a reminder of a lonely night without our loved ones, still lingers. Yet the long life without them, carries on. 

I have laid in the rainy arms of the Lalomanu sea. I have looked up into the blue eyes of the crescent moon. Butterflies have found me silently swaying towards the reef break. I made peace with the roaring white waves. But I know deep down that the once vibrant reef suffers emptiness as much as I do. 

I cannot forget my daughter.

How can I? Losing Moanalei in the tsunami wave haunts me still. I am as hopeless as a broken canoe in a storm, when I think of the tsunami day. Finding my sweet child lifeless, reminds me that life is cruel.

Through tears I remember, the blue lorry with the villagers piled up on it, straight for the morgue. The wailing mothers. The bleeding eyes of the youth and men, who couldn’t be there. The old and frail to be found in the wretched chest of the sea. And the children, pulled out from under tin roofs, vehicles and fallen trees. What was just another September morning, became a day to numb us. 

10 year service, Lalomanu Beach 2019.

Years have gone by. Things have changed. Roads like centipedes built upward to relocate our homes from the sea. But the tsunami day hasn’t moved. The tsunami day is at a stand-still.

On September 29th, I think God sits down to listen to us, as we weep for our loved ones. As if any prayer would bring them back. As if knowing God would turn life around. But we think of them in the little light of our minds or what’s left of it.

Peace Garden at Saleapaga. 📷 SGN.

We remember them as long as stars stay up there, in the dark and somber night sky of Lalomanu. Oh but I tell you earnestly that even if we try, this life won’t let it go. 

Lalomanu Beach 2019 📷 SGN.

Since the tsunami, I have also listened to God and angels in my silent prayers. Each year, I am told to move on. But in my selfishness, I want her to come back. I want Moanalei to live the life she left behind. She was as a tender wreath at nine years only. Her little toes and innocent bursts of laughter. I miss that and her quick answers to my curious questions. The heart she left lingering with the butterflies. Her smile of regret for plucked flowers as she flicked her long brown hair around. Those memories of my dear child, I have woven into my heart. And they own me.

So that when it is the tsunami memorial day, I am at war with angels. I cry out in silence to fight the skies of fate for Lalomanu’s coastal lines. I roll out my wounded heart to show them. And I make a stand for being human. Even as I know it, that angels are trying to convince me when they whisper, “Child, everything is ok now,” But I ask of them and anyone willing to listen, “Dear God, how can my newfound faith replace a broken heart?” 

With these words, I send out my love to all victims of the tsunami of 2009. I beg of you also, to remember us in your prayers, as we continue to live through the September day that became the one to numb us! 

God bless you, ever, dear island citizen!

Lumepa Hald