Photo by Sea Level Photography

“I made my children learn the ways of the ocean—so they would always have a home to go to, long after I am gone.” – Haley Celeste Miller

Throughout time, men have been known to live, fight, and die for land. It is an honor and privilege to have a home to call your own. Many save for lifetimes and sacrifice time with their families to afford that privilege. It’s a legacy, something that can be gifted for generations.

It was my family’s dream until the Lāhainā wildfire wiped out 7 generations of our homes and changed the course of our lives. Overnight, what once felt like such an honor to own a small slice of land, now made me question, how important is it really? Will it matter that we gave years to having that opportunity, pouring love, our prayers, and our time into nurturing our land? Will our great, great grandchildren know and hold tight to our vision of today or will it be a whisper in the wind, a once upon a time? 

With our lives altered, our hearts broken and our bodies in shock, we went to the only place left that made sense: the ocean, our home. In that moment I realized that although we had lost everything, we gained more than we could have ever imagined. 

Since I was a little girl, the ocean was my sanctuary. It was a place that I ran to when life felt overwhelming. I would surf from morning to night just to feel the depths of its beauty. My problems didn’t seem so big after spending time near the waves. It felt so powerful, so much bigger than me—wiser, stronger, and always humbled me deeply.

When I had children, the ocean became their teacher. We live by the quote, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” The ocean allowed my children to become fishermen and surfers. It fed our family most days of the week which in turn offered humility, respect, gratitude, and nourishment. We learned to work with the ocean’s tides and moons and take care of her surroundings.

The questions I posed earlier were answered. Our legacy is teaching our children to respectfully cultivate the many facets of the ocean while reminding them to be stewards and protectors. There’s no ownership, no body of water to be passed down, but the opportunity to teach them about the ocean will be passed on for generations to come. It is our family’s legacy. Our home. 

Raised in Lāhainā, Haley Celeste Miller is passionate about motherhood, essential oils and working towards their family dream to fish in every country that touches the ocean.