Watching videos from the tsunami in Japan is gut wrenching. It brings about the same feelings I had watching the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and in some ways, but not fully like, the 9-11 attack. There is a sense of awe and disbelief countered with the nauseous churning of the stomach and breaking of the heart. On one hand, time has stopped. How can it possibly be a week already? Didn't the earthquake just hit? Yet, on the other hand, the world marches on seemingly unchanged. I continue to do all the things I did before last Friday when I first saw the horrifying images of water pouring over fields, houses, and cars. My every day activities are no different than they were when the nation of Japan was turned upside down, literally, in the blink of an eye.
Tonight, Ken came and sat along side me. I was sitting comfortably on my bi-cast leather sofa with a glass of water at my side, playing Scrabble on-line with a stranger in Houston. I'd been munching on my trail mix and feeling gleefully confident in my Scrabble skills. But then, Ken sat beside me, with computer in hand. He was watching the latest videos posted from Japan. Many of the videos were playing with the voices I had somehow been sheltered from before...women...men...children...crying out. In agony. In disbelief. In shock. In despair. And then the photographs...a woman alone in a pile of rubble. Search and rescue people bowing their heads honoring the unknown victim wrapped in blue. The faces of two children, about the age of my oldest - one looking eerily like our old neighbor Yuey - sitting in a car with expressionless faces. A man bent over in despair amidst the wreckage.
I tried to protect my heart. I only glanced briefly at each of the images and videos. I raised my shoulders to the sounds of desperate men and women, as if I could somehow block out the agony. I focused on my game...sort of...I could no longer truly focus on my game. Though, I couldn't find it in myself to truly focus again on the horrific images and heartache of this far removed place. I just wanted it to go away.
But then... my friend had posted this link on her facebook wall. The headline reads,
Students silently await their missing parents
Suddenly, I can no longer turn away. I can no longer protect my heart from the floodgates of emotion. I can no longer choke back the tears or the lump that keeps rising in my throat. For this, is just too real...too raw...and too sad. I want to run to that school and scoop up those children. I want to hold them and caress their hair and reassure them that everything will be alright...though, in my heart, I know that for those babes, everything will no longer be alright.
I think of my own babies...my three loves tucked safely in their beds. I should be (and am) so thankful that they are here, safe and sound with me. Nothing can harm them tonight. And yet, I struggle with sadness and loss for the mommies and daddies that I don't even know and for the little ones whose lives I will never intersect. Nothing will ever be the same for them.
I know I need to break away. I need to shower and get the stink of the day off of me. Yet, it feels nearly impossible just now. I feel frozen...at a loss. My heart aches. My head is heavy. And the prayers that I know MUST come are slow in rising. Yet, they MUST come. I cannot run and scoop up those little loves so far away. I cannot take away the fear or hurt they must be feeling. So, I MUST pray. And, I MUST cherish what I have here. For it only takes a blink of an eye, for time to stand still.