Monday, March 1, 2010

Waves of Anxiety

Writing from Hawaii tonight. Yes, the same Hawaii that was under tsunami warning on Saturday. And boy, was that a stressful morning.

Every time we have enough frequent flier miles from work travel, we book tickets for these islands. It's our family happy place, and we come here to play in the sand, the ocean, the warm air that always smells like flowers.

Mornings usually start with listening to the birds outside before going outside to chase them across the lawn—a favorite activity of Sam's. Usually (lucky me), it's my husband who's up with Sam before 6, waiting for the sun to come up, playing carelessly. Not last Saturday morning.

"Um, honey," said my husband, waking me up. "I don't mean to alarm you, but there's a tsunami warning."

I shot out of bed like it was on fire.

"It won't hit here until 11:30 or so, so we have plenty of time." I later learned that this was his attempt to keep me calm.

It didn't. We packed everything up as quickly as possible, including 5 to 7 days of food (everything we had in the condo, anyway), which is what they were telling us to do on the news. It was 5:45 a.m. Just before 6 a.m., hotel staff called to tell us to evacuate. Minutes later, island-wide alarms sounded, and shortly after we had loaded the car. Sam in his car seat, headed...somewhere.

I was in full-on survivor mode. We didn't know what was coming. Thoughts of the Thailand disaster ran through my mind. It was much like a nightmare where it's up to me—and the decisions I make on the spot—determining the well-being of my family.

I'm certain that if it was just me and my husband, I would have been stressed out. But having Sam with us...well that was a whole other level of stress. To feel responsible for the life and safety of this little child of mine, who I love almost indescribably, was a heavy, heavy weight. And as we settled into higher ground—a basketball court three miles from the beach—I couldn't help but tear up wondering if we were in the right place. Should we drive to the highest spot on the island? Should we ditch the car and hike? Did we get enough milk, enough water? Are we doing everything we can to stay safe?

Had it been just my husband and I, I'm certain we would have put on running shoes and backpacks and been able to run to the hills, if we had to. But we had Sam with us, and I was overwhelmingly worried about making the right decisions for survival.

This is heavy stuff, I know.

Luckily, the day turned out fine. We played with Sam; he took a nap. We had a picnic. By the afternoon we were back in our room, back on the beach. But the gravity of a near disaster exhausted me, and made me...even more thankful for my family.

In lighter news, I'm thrilled that my husband finally has something to do on the beach. Fill the bucket, dump it out. Fill the bucket, dump in out, all the while Sam asking his dad for "More, more?" The two of them are in the water, out of the water. Jumping the waves, dodging the waves. Chasing the funny kid down the beach, across the lawn. My husband—who used to get antsy on the beach after 10 minutes—finally has something to do, and we're all happy about it.

All is well, thank goodness.

ps. I know it's been a while since I've posted. Life has been hectic, and then when I thought it wouldn't be (on vacation), it was...Thanks for sticking with me!


  1. The great thing is (now that everyone is safe and the threat gone), when Sam is old enough to understand you can say,"Dude, you survived a TSUNAMI!" Another thought, if there's a grade school science project (I had to do a bunch, but don't know if their still part of the curriculum), you got an instant idea --> wave machine!

  2. Great post, glad everything turned out fine. And as for your post script - we're still reading :)