In the last 24 + hours I have been horrified by the images coming in from Japan. I am sure, like many others, I am deeply disturbed and saddened by the videos, pictures and news reports. And, I feel, for some reason, that it is hitting close to home, even though it is happening on the other side of the world.
The thing that hits me the hardest about the images is how, for a lack of a better word, familiar the houses and cars that are getting swept away in the tides look to me. Those neighborhoods could just as easily be the neighborhoods that my family and friends live in. Those cars are the same cars that we all drive. Those farm lands and highways and strip malls getting completely engulfed by the waves could be the very same ones that surround my home. One report said that waters swept as much as 60 miles inland. The width of New Jersey, the state I grew up in, is 70 miles at it’s widest and, in the south, just as flat as those areas seen in Japan getting destroyed.
While I live more than a hundred miles from the coast and several hundred feet above sea level making it virtually impossible for us to get hit by a tsunami, it doesn’t take a big leap of the imagination to picture that type of destruction outside my doorway…and it scares the hell out of me.
Since my sons were born, these types of natural disasters have bothered me more than ever. Benjamin was born about 10 days before Katrina struck New Orleans and I can remember holding him so tight against me trying to figure out how I would protect him in the face of such tragedies. I let my mind wander to being inside the Superdome trying to figure out how to get an infant the basics like milk and water and diapers. And the thoughts horrify me. And with each new tragedy, I am horrified all over: the Haiti, China and Chile earthquakes, the typhoons and storms in the Philippians and Australia and the hurricanes and tornadoes that have struck our own country. With the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I find myself with the same terrible thoughts…trying to figure out how I would get my family through it. It’s made worse by how familiar it all looks to me.
When it was just Andrea and I, of course I worried, but it was different. She was at the World Trade Center for a conference on September 10, 2001 and was suppose to be there on September 11 (her company, thankfully, decided not to pay for the last day). While she wouldn’t have been in the buildings at that time, she certainly would have been within a block or two, or coming in the PATH station underneath, it is something that still bothers me. I wonder how we would have gotten in touch…how long would I have been left wondering if she was okay…how would she have gotten home?
Now, as a daddy, these types of fears and concerns are magnified ten-fold. I shutter at the thought of trying to explain what is going on to the boys and how our lives would be changed forever. What would I do if this happened here, in the middle of the day with the four of us in four different locations? I get sick at the thought of not being able to find Andrea or the boys. And I do my best to keep my brain from wandering to the worst-case scenarios.
With everything in life, I rely on my faith in God that he will protect me and my loved ones. I don’t talk much about my faith in this blog, but I have a very strong faith that God is always present in my life and the lives around me. I know that bad things happen all the time to the faithful and I know that even if we were to get struck by such devastation, I have faith that God will give me the strength to get me and my family through it.
Every night, before I go to bed, I go into my boys room and I say my prayers there…asking God to give me the strength to be a good father and a good husband and to guide us around the many bad things in this world and, when needed, through them. After these tragedies, I extend my prayers to those people, wherever they are in the world, from the Congo to Japan. I pray that God not only give them the strength to get through the tragedy, but to help them have the faith to believe they will get through it.
I don’t think I intended this post to be so much about me and the morbid thoughts I have. I really just wanted to do my small part to make sure that people keep the victims of the Japan quake in their prayers and thoughts. Also, if you can, please donate to the Red Cross and they will make sure that money gets where it is needed. Also, keep the victims and suffering around the world in your prayers. There are many from Katrina and Haiti and elsewhere that still need help.