December 7th 2011.
Almost 9 months since the magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami.
9 months since the world shook us so we could not stand; since walls and roofs crumbled and crashed around us and roads cracked open. 9 months since just several miles away, the sea came inland to swallow up whole villages, an airport, cars, homes families, animals, pets, insects, trees.....Life.
Helicopters vibrating above in the sky; fires lighting up the horizon as gas leaks burned; no water, no food, no electricity, no gas for weeks... and then news that a nuclear plant not far away had exploded, and the wind and snow was carrying radiation and fall out farther than we could have imagined. The stories of death and horror, of rescue and miracle kept flooding in, every day without fail something new and more incredulous. And every day we lived with our hearts pounding as the news and the information from the govt and TEPCO continued to prove false and misleading and untrustworthy.
How long does it take to wipe out those images from our minds? How long does it take to say we are healed. To forget. It depends on how many tragedies were personalized I am sure and perhaps on our personal beliefs and faith. Yet, for all of us, for every one of us here, there will be images burned on the backcloth of our minds for ever.
Waiting in heavy snow minus 6 degrees for 3 plus hours for our ration of 10 dry grocery items.. anxious to join the line before supplies ran out, I left with no coat..a woman tied her scarf around my neck.I cried ice tears, it would have been totally unbearable on any other occasion -or alone. Yet during those weeks we all wore suits of steel armor over our hearts and bodies and we became prisoners of war in our own homes, allies and comrades where all the comforts had been taken and we were forced to live almost like Neanderthal people once did. A small exchange with a neighbor ~several matches for a few pocket tissues ~ changing as rations increased to larger and more useful shares....those were the highlights of a day; that was how our existence was those first few weeks and months. And in the evenings, we huddled around a candle..our only light source and only heat source. From somewhere came the strength to survive, the human will to survive and also the humble gratitude that we had survived, made most of us us able to face the unbearable, unpredictable and unfathomable.
And now, slowly the reconstruction of roads and bridges and shops and windows and hearts has begun and is going from strength to strength. And Christmas is coming and there are trees lit up all over town just like last year before the quake, and babies are being born every day who never knew anything of the magnitude 9 quake and the monster tsunami that came inland an unprecedented ten kilometers and reached 40.5 meters/133 feet high in Miyako.
And these babies born post quake, will perhaps look at the new towns along the coast when they become adult and maybe they will have their own families and they will say "Here is a place that looks good to settle" and they will live once more in areas that are so close to the dreadful horror of the devastation that they never knew .
I can't help feeling the truth in the cliche that life does indeed go on. In one direction or another. With us or without us.