Just then is when the earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan. I've written about this at length back when it was all pretty fresh, but it basically goes like this. I spent the first 24 hours (that felt more like 24 weeks) worried sick about people I didn't know at all, people I knew of, but most especially, a friend I'd met at our JET Pre-departure Orientation back in Chicago and and with whom I shared a special connection. She and her children were living up that way, and her town was on the news because the tsunami had just washed much of it away. What was left of the town was largely on fire. Being so worried about my friend and her children brought it all home to me as far away as I was down here in Okayama. Thankfully, after a long night during which sleep didn't happen, I finally learned that my friend was OK. It could just have easily turned out the other way. For entirely too many, it did turn out that other way (latest information I've found says 15,846 dead, 3,320 still missing, and that says nothing of how very many people each one of those must have left behind). I was full of such profound sadness and worry for days. Watching everything unfold - the images, the stories, all of the talk about nuclear power plant and radiation and microsieverts, all of it - even as far away as I was, was... simply surreal.
At other points in my life, watching people I've loved die and watching others around me reacting to the exact same event has taught me for sure that people handle difficult and painful things differently. Some of my friends here in my part of Japan couldn't understand why it was affecting me to the degree that it did. Since my friend was OK, and I didn't personally know anyone who'd died up that way, a handful of these friends thought I was being weak or dramatic or depressing or morbid or whatever. Even if I was/am all of the above, every single one of those who would judge me for whatever way I react to such a tragedy (I still went to work, harmed no one, etc.) can just go fuck off. I never say fuck on my blog. But fuck them. Seriously. For whatever reasons, it affected me the way it did. Those very same people were, understandably, on the phone with their mommies as the disaster unfolded. My mom? Is dead. And I was supposed to have been honoring the 16th anniversary of her death just about then. So, yah, maybe that's just one of many areas where my perspective was just a little different. Maybe that had nothing to do with it. Point is, people react differently (another post from when this was all fresh and I learned how true this was). And today, I'm having a reaction of sorts, I guess you could say.
All this spewing is just because Facebook did a little thing over here in Japan today that immediately brought me back to a year ago and started the process of breaking my heart along those same scarred lines that try to heal every year from roughly late March to around late February of the following year. It's like clockwork, anymore, and apparently Japan's tragedy will simply piggyback onto the scars of my personal one in one neat little package of heartbreak to take out and hold and have a bigger than other regular days kind of cry. Anyway, right. Facebook. When I logged on today, I saw a little banner announcing that they are testing the new Disaster Message Board here in Japan for the next couple of days. If you are OK, you click that you are safe, and a reassuring dark blue "safe" icon will appear next to your name on the disaster list when your FB friends look up your name. If you know that someone else is OK, you can mark them as safe, and their people will see an almost but not quite as reassuring light blue "safe" icon saying someone has said they are safe.
Just seeing this feature this afternoon suddenly brought it all back to me and felt like a punch in the throat, those sad days around this time last year. So I took a picture and intended to write a quick little post to go with it about how I thought this whole I'm OK, my buddy's OK feature on Facebook was a good and useful idea. Instead, it turned into this kind of post, and I'm OK with that. It gave me the chance to reflect and remember that I get to feel what I feel in reaction to life around me, no right or wrong ways to experience that which makes me sad and absolutely no apologies. Right here, right now, I'm sad. Since sad things often make people sad, I'm pretty sure that it just means that, yep, I'm sad, but, also, I'm OK.
|43/366 - Safe.|
(Taken on my iPhone.)