Thursday was a rough day. Nothing seemed to go the way I wanted it to. I put the kids to bed early and was relishing some time watching some TV I had taped while doing some work on the computer and enjoying a delicious sushi dinner. I spent a few minutes wallowing in the long hard day that I'd had. Children who didn't nap, taxes that took to long to complete and to top it off, cleaning up a bunch of poop. I realized how blessed I was that after such a rough day the kids had gone to bed early. I was heading there myself.
And then it happened. My day got worse. Very quickly. The news of the 7.9 quake in Japan (which was quickly elevated to 8.9) was bad enough. Watching the devastation and the fear and imminent deaths there broke my heart. But a large earthquake like that means a lot more to me now that it affects me personally. An earthquake that size most definitely means a Tsunami is likely. And considering that I can see the water from my living room window, I couldn't spend a lot of time sitting around and doing nothing.
That brings me to another reason why being a military family is different from being a normal civilian family. When you grow up in Nebraska, you hear the civil defense sirens and know that a tornado is threatening your county. That is, unless it happened to be 10:00 AM on Wednesday. When you're a military family and you move thousands of miles, the shortlist of natural disasters changes with each move. The ones you're used to really don't apply in each place. On the east coast you worry about hurricanes. The west coast has wildfires and earthquakes. And apparently, an island in the middle of the pacific has issues with volcanoes, sulfur dioxide air, and the aftermath of major earthquakes all along the ring of fire - Tsunamis. The thing is that when you grow up in an area you learn to stop being afraid of the natural disasters that are common in your area. You get used to the sirens, warnings and know that you're relatively safe even if the disaster threatens to strike. But when you move to new areas, you have to learn to cope with new, scary things that you aren't used to.
I am truly, TRULY blessed to live in a very close-knit community. We all watch out for each other's children and talk almost daily. If we don't see someone for a while, we check to ensure that things are okay. And because of this, even when my best friend is thousands of miles away, I have people I can lean on. People who have in just a few short months have become family. And so, when the earthquake hit in Japan, the word was passed quickly throughout the neighborhood. We all know that earthquakes, though far away can directly impact our area. When the tsunami watch was issued, we all talked and knew that should it become a warning, we would go somewhere together. When civil defense said it was "highly likely" the watch was going to become a warning, we had decided to get ready. So that if it became a warning we would be able to leave ahead of everyone else and avoid traffic. So, fifteen minutes before the first siren, we were already packing up, planning to go somewhere together, in the middle of the night, with all of our children. And when the siren sounded we were already well on our way to seeking safety.
My heart is aching for those in Japan who are dealing with the tragedy. But my heart is also aching with gratitude for a Great God who helped to place my family in this home. Aching with love for my neighbors who have stepped in to watch my children when others had to be rushed to the emergency room. We may not live in a brand new house, but we have a roof, walls and plenty of room. We have a view of the water in a wonderful area of the world where the weather is almost always amazing. We have friends for the kids to play with (and get hurt with). We have block pot-lucks and birthday parties. We have a community that is hard to find. So it was with great relief that Friday morning, when the all-clear was sounded that we returned to our homes. But the relief was not because our houses and our things were in tact, it was because our neighborhood family was.