If you’d have caught me on Friday morning, I would’ve told you it was a bad day. I would’ve given you the pot lid Annie managed to swipe from the counter and decorate with bite marks, my awful hair day, and a super emotional (read: weepy) group of four year olds as exhibit A, B, and C. I was in a foul mood from 6:40am when the alarm went off and am not particularly proud to admit that it was all downhill from there. I had a headache. I was tired. I didn’t like what I packed for lunch. I didn’t feel like tying anymore shoes or opening anymore milk cartons. I wanted to go home. Why wasn’t it 3:00 yet?
When 3:00 actually did roll around, I hustled the kids out the door and exhaled. On the way to my car, I heard Japanese loud speakers going off. I don’t speak much Japanese, so I drove home clueless and curious.
Once home, I did a quick bit of research and figured out what happened. An 8.9 magnitude earthquake just rocked mainland Japan. An earthquake of that size is devastating enough. It caused a massive amount of damage. Unfortunately, the tsunami began after that: destroying and washing away cars, homes, and more than 1,000 lives.
About two hours after the earthquake, Okinawa was put under tsunami warning. We live on the southern end of the island with a view of the ocean that I enjoy daily. Friday, however, it gave me the creeps. Completely placid, it looked more like a lake than an ocean. Boats that are normally docked on the shore were anchored farther out into the ocean – a sign that the Japanese would rather ride the waves than have their boats destroyed in the dock. It made me uneasy.
Quickly, we were told to evacuate and head to higher ground. Anything below the fourth floor of our building was unsafe. I was no longer grateful for our second floor apartment. While I realize we’re not close to mainland and figured the odds were in my favor, I’m also a pessimist and couldn’t shut up the small “what if…” in the back of my head.
I loaded up Annie in the car and headed for “higher ground”. We spent
a majority of the evening in a parking lot that has an ocean view. We watched the ocean, read a little, and napped. I was very grateful for high ground and a lab that’s content snoozing in the backseat.
Nothing of any consequence happened in Okinawa. We got an “All Clear” later on that evening and headed back home. I watched on the news as the tsunami hit Hawaii and California. While it caused damage there, it was not as awful as in Japan. The footage is heartbreaking and the damage is off the charts.
One of my favorite quotes is “When life sends you to your knees, remember you’re in the perfect position to pray.” That's exactly how I felt. This weekend has been humbling to say the least. The little day to day things that had been driving me crazy? Well, I’m grateful for them. If a dented pot lid is the biggest complaint I’ve got going, then that’s a good thing.
I didn’t have to worry if I’d live, if I’d ever see my family and friends again, where I’d be spending the night, what I’d do without a car and a house, or how I’d ever get back on my feet. I spent the evening telling people I care about that I’m okay and not to worry. I felt blessed, safe, and loved – and that’s enough.
I encourage you to spend a little time today praying for and thinking about the people in Japan. It's easy to get caught up in work and the little things and forget about how much we have to be grateful for.
If you feel compelled to do more, the Red Cross is a great place to start. You can visit www.redcross.org and donate to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami. You can also text REDCROSS to 909999 to make a $10 donation. You’ll see it on your phone bill. (I was thinking it’ll make a good class project…)
The rest of the weekend has been sort of quiet. Douglas has been at work for most of it. Marines have been busy getting people and things ready to help in mainland. It makes me proud to watch it happen. More on that here.