Saturday, March 12, 2011

Unimaginable Pain.

I thought I already knew what I would be writing about today but my original subject matter required a frivolous and flippant tone and I cannot bring myself to write like that in light of everything that has happened during the last thirty plus hours.

The earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan have captured the worlds attention. I know I am not alone when I find that regardless of what I am doing, my thoughts are constantly turned towards that island in the pacific and the people who live there.

As I write this on Saturday morning, CNN is playing on the TV and I feel numb. It is as if my mind won't allow me to think too deeply, a form of self protection perhaps. I feel sympathy and will be reaching for my credit card to help in some small way, but I simply cannot wrap my head around the enormity of the situation.

On the afternoon of the earthquake, several people I know were working over in Tokyo. Through the marvels of technology, and in spite of the major system breakdowns, messages were posted on facebook,  texts were received and sent.

By evening of day one, the people I know all accounted for. However, a good friend of my husband is still trying to make contact with family and friends who live near to Sendai. With 9,500 people reported missing in the region, we can only hope he has some good news soon.

Yesterday was an inservice day for students in the Beaverton school district so, like many parents, I watched the news unfolding with my son. We sat in silence, full or horror and awe.  We could not believe what we were seeing, as the tidal wave swept across the countryside, poured across poly-tunnels and roadways, gathered up lorries and cars and crushed buildings, creating a bizarre and evil soup of mud and metal and wood.

 I can still barely allow myself to think about the people - the fathers mothers and children -who were inevitably mixed into that heaving broth.  Even thought the image has been replayed many times, the visual impact is no less.

As is often the case, it took one story, one shot captured by reporters on the ground, that will stay with me forever. It is not graphic and not so very different from many posted across the world wide web.

A father and son, surveying the scene. They appear to be standing absolutely still. In shock one can only suppose. Are they looking at a pile of debris that was once their home? Or are they simply trying to get their bearings in a neighborhood that they could once walk through without thinking, and is now as unfamiliar as a landscape on the moon? The boy is clinging to the man and I can't help think that in a world that has literally been shaken to the core, is his father now the only thing he can rely upon to stand steady and firm.

Looking at the photograph I cannot help but wonder about the woman; the wife and mother missing from the scene. I can only hope that she is safe, as we  all hope that other mothers and wives are safe.

The fact that the picture is taken from a distance is poignant. It suggests that the photographer can see and feel their grief and respectfully stands far away.

 The disaster is on a scale larger than most people could ever comprehend, but the tragic consequences will affect people deeply and personally, creating many tiny pockets of unimaginable pain.

Words can't describe the magnitude of the event and we are all left feeling helpless. The footage of the churning water left me speechless but this photograph touched a chord and brought real tears to my eyes.

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