I felt numb yesterday after hours of staring at images that are so unbelievable that it's difficult to process them, to accept the reality of them. I was only just beginning to comprehend the scale of what happened in Christchurch, then this comes along and utterly dwarfs it. This is not on only an unimaginable scale, encompassing several towns and cities, but it's ongoing, as the earthquakes are followed by tsunamis (we are all still on alert) and fires, and now the terrifying nuclear meltdown.
I could only sleep by reading until my eyelids fell, and even then I was unable to banish the images of water - the first night, big waves on a beach that was somehow indoors and we were watching from a balcony... last night swimming laps in a pool that was too short and full of things. During a brief waking period in the night the realization that it had happened came back to me and I managed to push it away long enough to get back to sleep again, thinking 'NO don't take me there yet!'. But there was nothing to stop it flooding back in the morning.
Punctuating the sanity-saving numbness, my eyes prick with tears as unbidden thoughts float to the top my consciousness before I can banish them - mothers racing to schools or kindys, but not getting there in time... People on the missing trains, feeling the quake, seeing the ocean alongside retreat... people at home, trying to call the person they trust for advice, and that moment of hesitation costing them... and always, always the children. As a mother and a teacher, it's almost too much for me to bear, seeing in my mind's eye my students' faces when I hear reports of kids trapped in school buildings, or that half of a town's population has disappeared.
It's hard to watch, but the need to know is too strong. Two people have commented on facebook about not watching, one suggested going out into the spring sunshine, one said that the news was too sensationalist. But this event needs no sensationalizing, and how can you enjoy the sun when people are still trapped, when the disaster is still unfolding? It seems perverse. At the same time you can't just stare at the TV all day. The kids help by wanting to listen to music, and watch cartoons. Kids - sometimes their blithe indifference to suffering and utter self-centredness is such a blessing! Life goes on!
But for me, finding something appropriate to was tricky. I continued to work on the Journal, as Tammy texted to say she was coming still (she didn't come in the end as our train lines are down too). It was a heartening choice, as the section I was working on yesterday was the convention section, telling members about all the events and fun planned for the weekend (it's at the end of May, so presumably won't be cancelled, transport should be fixed by then). I spent a lot of the day searching for photos and clipart of people enjoying themselves.
In between I obsessively checked facebook, which has been an absolute lifeline! I first heard about the quake from a friend in Tokyo who emailed to an email group I am on, and I quickly checked facebook and turned on the TV for tsunami warnings (earthquake info and tsunami warnings are posted on a ticker on every channel within minutes of the event). The posts flew in, and I commented or checked them to keep updated. I spent pretty much the next two hours between the TV and facebook, sharing info and in some cases telling people there what had happened to them as they didn't have TV, power, or phones but could reach the internet through their phones. If that doesn't convince everyone out there to get a smart phone, I don't know what will!
And so life does go on here without disruption, apart from the train lines stopping, as I think they started running again in the afternoon. Amy and Lena went to stay the night with a friend (they live on the upper floor of a brand new hospital, so I actually worried LESS with them gone, because after seeing buildings like it still standing after the earthquake and tsunami of that size, I figure they are safer there than in our rickety old house trapped by the ocean on one side and rivers on three others...), Kanji went to work, Erica insists all day long on watching Doraemon and Kamen Riders, and I will work on my Journal, and hopefully see some friends for dinner tonight... and talk about the earthquake all over again...