... on my mind today ...
It has been one month today. One month since the night that I drove in my pj's to my Mom's house at 1 am to sit with her while we watched as news stations overwhelmed the world with the devastation that was wiping through Japan. On my way out the door, Ben stopped me and asked me if I needed him to come - if my Mom needed him to come. I said no. I didn't yet have any real idea of where exactly in Japan this was all happening but I felt sick to my stomach as I started my car. I think I just knew that it was Sendai (the exact city my 16 year old brother was in for his year long grade 11 student exchange).
I ripped into my parents driveway way too fast and barged through the front door. Flinging my rain boots off, I asked Mom if she had heard from Chayse since the earthquake hit. She said she had received a text from him right afterwards. This was great news I reminded her. We still didn't know anything about whether or not we had heard from Chayse after the Tsunami had hit or not (which we figured was the most eminent threat to them in that area). We decided that we needed to stay on top of where he and the other students were as best we could because the devastation seemed to be worsening every few minutes.
It was just Mom and I for a while. We didn't say a whole lot, we just sat up straight, watching the t.v in her huge king size bed just the two of us and of course our family pomeranian, Tucker. Dad was not even half way through his shift in Africa - he had basically just left to go. As much as she didn't want to add chaos to my Dad on the other side of the world, Mom thought she'd better get in touch with him before he wakes up and see's it all over the news. I agreed and the same thing went for my sister Casey. We all deserved to know what was potentially happening, whether it was the middle of the night or not. So Mom called Dad and I called Casey. I thought Mom would have the more challenging phone call but I was wrong. She asked me what was wrong and I told her that I wanted to let her know that there had been an earthquake and Tsunami in Sendai. I told her exactly what we knew thus far which was pretty much nil but that Mom got a text from Chayse saying he made it through the quake a few hours prior. She was sobbing so hard, she didn't say anything except 'okay' a few moments. I asked her if she was okay, but she'd already hung up the phone.
Mom's laptop started ringing and it was Chayse ... he was in the dark but he was with others. They were bundled up to keep warm in their snow gear and in my opinion they looked cold. It had been snowing there recently and went on to snow again just days after the disaster. We instantly began rambling on with questions that had been killing us to know the answers to for the past few hours but he didn't even have enough time to answer most of them. Do you have food and water? Yes, some. Are you alright? Yes. Is there an adult with you all? Yes. We ended the call with shouts of tips that we had been conjuring up for if he had a chance to call us. Things like "Conserve your power - you might have none for days! Do not leave Tsitika's side, you need to stay together! If you leave to another location, please try and tell us where you've gone!" As if these were things he hadn't already known ... the kid's so damn smart. There were other students that needed to get in touch with family as well and they were using Chayse's laptop so we hung up pretty quick. Most importantly though, we said our I love you' but the call still left us feeling plagued with even more questions and a ton more anxiety seeing all of them without power and looking pretty chilly.
Minutes later, Casey and little E showed up and filled up Mom's cozy king bed a little more. Eli dozed off while we continued thinking about things like how many stories his school building is and how far away it was from the ocean. Dad had been there to visit him a few weeks prior so we relied on his memory to try and conjure up some faith that Chayse and the other students were going to stay safe through the Tsunami.
There were no more tears that night, just business, trying to find a way to keep them safe from across the world. We thought we'd hear from him within the next 24 hours and we'd just simply know where to go from there. Not only 24 hours went by, but another few days and we didn't hear anything. With our whole family staying with us, we crowded around skype as my Dad called us and told us that if we did not hear from Chayse in six hours (after almost forty something hours of hearing nothing), he was coming home regardless. As if I didn't already know it was serious. But it just got a whole lot more. I happened to catch him on Facebook a few hours later and we were chatting and I said to him "Dad I would never ask you this if I did not whole heartedly mean this but we need you here. We can't do this without you any longer." That was it, he was on the next flight out. P.S. None of us turned off our Facebook for days. It turned out to be a great connector in terms of other ppl who had heard from others that claimed they'd seen Chayse, ect. While it's not the end of our story, these are the parts I needed to reflect on today. Back home here, Chayse is making every effort he can to try and do whatever he can to bring awareness and charity to the people of Japan. He has a deep connection to this country and he's feeling eternally grateful for the time that he spent there as are we (his family).
While 'anonymous' people have had issues with us wanting Chayse home while others could not make it home, I know that they have not found themselves in a position similar to ours and I deeply hope that they never will. It is difficult to understand where others are coming from when we have not endured situations like theirs before. I choose to believe that this is where their cruelty comes from. Please, please have compassion for others. Please, please be aware of your judgments. We really just don't know their stories, we don't know their pain, we don't know their situations. I never would have thought but time really does stand still and nothing else matters when someone you can't live without is in a situation like this. At home, we did not plan past the next hour, we really didn't. No leaving the house, doing not much more than the necessity to get out of bed that morning, very little/no sleep, a lot of phone calls and emails, and probably the most important thing of all ... a lot of family to wrap their arms around you super tight (you know who you are) when you loose it because everyone does. Hours turned into days and people would call and ask we'd say nothing. Helplessness is torture.
This is just a part of our story but there are so many others that we won't forget. We stood with many other families and waited for the plane from Tokyo to say arrived on the screen at the Vancouver Airport. We saw little ones running to their Dad with balloons and sisters screaming in excitement to see one another after their time apart. We know that there are so many other families (in and out of Japan) who are still apart and many who will never be together again. I've had my moment of silence to honor the strength that Japan has shown in their time of defeat and I will likely have many more for them today. I also want to honor with silence the families not in Japan that are still waiting for the people they can't live without, to come home to them.
Sending out love today.So many people gave it to us when we needed it the most and now I'm passin' on the love!