Thursday, March 17, 2011

What would I do if disaster hit?

For the last week I've been glued to the television and internet as I followed the situation in Japan. Much like I was glued to coverage of Katrina a few years ago, I couldn't get enough news stories and videos to quench my thirst for information. The shear size of the tragedy, and the impact it is having on the people who live over there, just baffles my mind. I just can't wrap my head around what they must be going through.

What's different this time around is how I'm viewing the tragedy. Katrina hit while I was in vet school. Sam and I were already married, but we were still somewhat independent. It was just me and Sam (plus the pets). What's different about how I'm looking at the Japan events is that now I'm a mom. I think about the parents who did what they could to gather up their kids in the few minutes they had to escape. I wonder how many of the people who were lost were rushing home to get their families to safety. It breaks my heart to think of the ones who didn't make it. Of the families who aren't whole anymore. The parents without children, the children without parents.

I live with a level of fear in my life now. Ever since my son was born, I've always had a nagging fear in the back of my mind. What if he gets hurt at daycare? What if I get in an accident and leave Sam and Tommy alone? What if Sam and Tommy are in an accident and leave me alone? I don't allow these thoughts to rule my life - I'd be a basket case if I did. But they're always there, somewhere, in the dark places of my brain. I find I'm constantly watching the weather during storm seasons now. Tornadoes have always frightened me. We didn't see them much where I grew up. But now I'm glued to severe weather coverage. Ready at a moment's notice to leave work and drive the 3 minutes to daycare to whisk him to the safety of my grandparents' basement if it's necessary. Ready to pull him from his bed in the middle of the night and head to the safety of our closet with no windows. Willing to be late to work if the weather reporters on the local news say "if you don't need to be on the roads stay home for a little while." Things I never did before I was a mom. Things I thought were overkill before Tommy was the main focus of my life.

Luckily I don't live in an area where a hurricane or tsunami could reach us with that kind of force. Earthquakes are quite small scale here, and don't tend to cause much damage. Tornadoes are a threat, but even those don't happen too often, and we usually have a few hours of warning before the conditions are ripe for a twister. Still, I wonder what I would do if I ever found myself in a situation like the one these Japanese parents found themselves in almost a week ago. I just hope that God would give me the strength and wisdom to do what was best for my family, and that He'd give me the peace to deal with the consequences. In the meantime, I'll continue to pray for all the people impacted by the events in Japan. They may be a world away, but a mother's love is the same here as it is there.

A woman holds her child at a shelter after being evacuated from an area near the Fukushima nuclear power plant 
Photo: AP   Link to original article 

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