The truth as I know it:

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands. ~~~ Kristi Larson

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tsunami Lessons

If anyone is really reading this, thank you!  I don't know if my words matter any less because I neglect them and because I have left them untended for so long and so sporadically that hardly anyone reads, but I think, somehow, that comments (verification that there are readers of the words) is somehow validation of the words themselves.

Anyway, on to the lessons in this weeks Tsunami.  Let me set the scene.  Brian is out of town for a week.  I am on day 5 of 7 days without our leader at the helm.  It's tiring for me, the "leading" of the house.  It doesn't feel natural to me.  It's not my role.  Probably some of you think this sounds weak or old-fashioned, but for me, I realize that I have talents, God has given me certain gifts (which arguably, could also be called curses, but that's another post), but decision making is certainly NOT one of those gifts.  So, when Brian is gone, I'm thrust into this unnatural role for me, of being in control and having to make all the decisions.  And I don't enjoy it.  So, enter last week, day 5 of 7, and my parents arrive in Hawaii for their first visit since the move.

We see them at 8:30 PM.  I haven't laid eyes on my Mama since early September of last year and I've never gone that long without seeing my Mama.  At 9:00, I get a call from a friend saying that there has been an earthquake in Japan, a tsunami, and that we are under a warning.  At 9:59, the first sirens go off.  And the "watch" escalates to a "warning" and we are in the "inundation zone" and therefore under mandatory evacuation orders.  10:30 PM - Out to the street to check the pulse of the neighbors.  There are a few people out.  Some are leaving, animals and water in tow.  Others are riding it out until the police come to force them out.  What should I do?  I have 8 people here (my four, me, Amy, and my parents.)  I don't know where to go if I do leave.  I can tell you the EXACT moment of a tornado warning that you should actually take cover (and it's usually about 10 minutes AFTER Lisa Van Patton tells you too. :)  I can tell you that you should not rush out for bread and milk when the Snowbird report sounds like Snow-Armageddon is just one more turn of the moon.  But tsunami warnings?  I'm lost.  And I'm alone to make the decision, what to do, where to go.  And I don't know very many people.

11:30 PM - I finally decide that we really should just go to be on the safe side.  But where?  It's the middle of the night.  In TN, there are at least 273 people I could call in the middle of the night and predict within 99.9% accuracy whether they would be awake and also whether they would be annoyed by my lack of planning.  But here, I only know the phone numbers of three or four people and I have NO idea what any of them would think of me showing up on their doorsteps at midnight with 8 people in tow.

11:48 PM - I finally decide, "Screw it!" I'm driving up the hill to Meg's best friend's house.  IF the lights are on, I'll knock.  If they aren't, then I'll pack up my brood and sleep the night in the school parking lot (which is what my next door neighbor was doing.)  ... the lights ARE on... I DO knock... Piula answers the door (that is her father's name) and it's obvious that he had been stretched out on the couch watching the coverage.  "Can we come here and stay with you?  I don't know where to go!" I tell him.  "Sure, come in," he says.  And his wife comes out and goes into action the way any good woman does when a friend is in crisis.  She clears floor space, moves her daughter from her bed, makes pallets, and starts slicing apples, cheese and opening crackers.  At midnight.

My parents take the guest room and presumably fall right to sleep.  My kids are already asleep and we just arrange them on the floors and couches and then collapse in front of the TV.

12:45 - a knock at the door.  Piula's uncle and three cousins are at the door.  "Is there room at the inn?"  So, we all shift around, I move kids from couches to bedroom floors, they gather more pillows and blankets, and Uncle settles into the recliner to watch with us.  Our hosts go to bed (after all, we're up on the hill now, well out of the danger zone.)  Amy falls asleep, but Uncle and I are both determined to be awake when this thing hits.  It was predicted to hit at 2:59 AM.

I am so glad that I was here for it.  So thankful that the wave did not cost lives.  It was really a different experience to watch the live coverage of Diamond Head beach (somewhere we frequent) as the water left the beach and exposed the reef.  And then... a small wave, splash, and nothing.  We all breathed a sigh of relief and went to bed.

So, that was the actual timeline of the night.  But what I learned was that love is an amazing thing.  At about 2:00 AM, I started to receive the phone calls from home.  As people were starting to wake up to the news, they started calling me.  One friend called to "wake me up" because he knows I tend to sleep through the tornado warnings in TN, but he didn't know if I had heard since this was middle of the night for us.  When I answered, he could hear the sirens wailing, and he had his answer.  My mother-in-law.  My dad!  All calling to make sure we were safe.

But I would expect that after living in the same home for 12 years, same town for 20, and the same state for 41 years, I would have some people who loved and concerned for me.  What was startling is that I was able to think of even one person I could turn to in the middle of the night in a place I've lived for 6 months.  In TN, it's called Southern Hospitality.  In Hawaii, it's called Aloha.  And it's the same spirit.

My heart breaks for the people of Japan.  My heart aches for what they are experiencing because we had warning, we made preparations, we lamented what to take and what to leave behind, but they had no warning.  And the devastation continues for them with no end in sight.  It seems so real to me after having experienced the threat.  Looking at my house, realizing what wouldn't survive the water, if it came.  It's sobering!  I've never been in a natural disaster that required an evacuation.

But on a lighter note, most of you won't be surprised to know that I actually, briefly, considered just putting my kids to be in their life-jackets and getting into my own comfy bed!  :)  I decided that was a bad idea, obviously, but the fact that I even considered it (or came up with it) sort of makes me chuckle at myself.  Which brings me back to the original point... it's a really GREAT thing that I'm not the one making the decisions most of the time.  ha!


Kim said...

Beautiful post.

Nicole said...

Girl I was thinking about you guy's! And I remembered Brian was gone ! I am not at my best when Bret is gone either!
Okay I am laughing at the life jacket plan ! When we were living in Tornado alley we had a terrible storm and then those crazy sirens started going off. Well that was it for this panic sticken momma all of my kiddos were arranged in the stair case closet with helmets on...yes I made everyone wear a helmet :)
I will never live this one down but it defintely can get everyone laughing!I still think that we are somehow related ;)
Glad you all are safe and sound!!!!!!!

Amy said...

Love the post. Nicely written, and while it may not be your true calling (to be #1 in charge) you did really well, mama!!

Glad everyone is safe and glad it was really a non event for you. My heart too bleeds for those in Japan. I almost can't bear to watch it.

carolinagirl said...

I heard about the earthquake in Japan and the Tsunami that was to hit Hawaii just 15 minutes before it was supposed to hit Hawaii. I was sick on my stomach thinking about you guys! SO happy that you are safe! I am not the leader in my family, and I am so fearful of losing my husband because he grounds us. I can only imagine what it was like to be in that situation. I am thankful that you had your Mama though. Moms always help to make things better!

Great to hear from you!

Fellowship 686 said...

So happy you made it through! I was thinking about you all in Hawaii! How great is it that your mom was there! Love the lifejacket in bed idea!

Craig and Phyllis said...

Glad to hear that you were all safe. I was praying for your family.

Lindsay said...

So glad you came thru it all unscathed. We have friends in Japan who made it thru ok, but still wait news of their family. Watching that footage of the tsunami sweeping in, you can't help but put yourself in the shoes of the parents there, knowing there was no escape. Awful. Glad you are all ok and had somewhere safe to go.

Carol said...

Thanks for posting. Of course we are still reading and you and your family are the only people we know in Hawaii, so you have been on our minds. The human spirit does lift us up, especially when we are unsure of ourselves and our strengths. Best.

Barb said...

I really am so glad you are all alright . . . I had forgotten that Brian was away . . I can't imagine how frightening it must have been for you, but so glad that someone was there to open their home to you.

Love ya, Girl!