Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 11, 2011

I intended to sleep late. Three straight 15-hour days with little sleep in between fueled my desire to snooze. It wasn't to be. It was the morning of Friday, March 11, and my phone buzzed with incoming text messages.

The first came in at 6:08 a.m. I read it, blinked a couple of times, wondered what in the world my friend Jackie meant, and rolled over. Something wouldn't let me completely fall back to sleep, however. About half an hour later, nagged by the need to know the meaning behind that text, I Googled "Japan" or something – I can't even remember – on my phone and discovered through bleary, half-open eyes that an earthquake struck Japan. "Japan has earthquakes every day," I thought to myself as my head hit the pillow again.

At 7:05 a.m. my phone buzzed again. It was from my buddy D.F.

Okay. Well, I thought that sucked, but I didn't read any sense of urgency. I shifted around my sleeping cat and closed my eyes again. Several minutes passed, and I felt as if I were on the edge of sleep . . . and . . . Tsunami. Visions of Indonesia forced open my eyes, which desperately wanted to stay closed. This time I Googled "Japan tsunami," and I sat bolt upright when I saw that a tidal wave had devoured a large portion of Sendai, an area where my friend Marty lives.

Finally accepting that I was not sleeping late, I scrambled out of bed. At 8:02 a.m., I received another text, this one from a friend whom I'd met on the JapanBall baseball tour.

By that time I had grabbed the remote and watched the biggest natural disaster to hit Japan in 140 years unfold before me.

The earthquake – a mind-boggling 9.0 (9.0!) – was bad enough. But the tsunami? The water was evil. It stampeded through the countryside with utter disregard for the whatever was in its path.

Watching the horrifying footage, I became absolutely heartsick. I still am.

It has been more than one week since the disaster, Japan's worst since World War II, and it is difficult to see the images of the aftermath, difficult to fathom how the Japanese feel. And the threat of a meltdown at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima is downright frightening. As Japan and other nations work together to clean up the mess, start rebuilding, and stave off nuclear disaster, I feel hope. After the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and in the days following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the Japanese reached deep down and reconstructed itself. Perhaps I'm a bit naive, but I firmly believe they will do the same now. With a nation of resilient people, Japan will persevere. 


Anonymous said...

Japan will persevere. Yes this is a huge setback, but setbacks are designed to make us stronger. I know we have discussed this (over email and text) but one thing that I find amazing is how the citizens of Japan are already cleaning up and trying to get their lives back to normal. Also, I saw a video of the citizens waiting patiently in line for a grocery store to open up. Would that happen here? I highly doubt it.


shrinecastle said...

It is amazing how patient the Japanese can be. We have talked about how we haven't seen any instances of looting. I read last night that two young guys stole a donation box from a restaurant in Fukuoka, and that made me sad. Not everyone's perfect, I suppose.