Loss and Grief Leading to Perspective and Aid for Japan

March 18, 2011

On Wednesday night a group of us gathered on the beach in Belmont Shore for a candle lit vigil commemorating the recent tragedy in Japan. Arriving after it began, my friend and I came upon the group huddled together on the beach, and we approached softly so as to not disturb them. Attendees were holdding lit candles, with the flames guarded by Dixie cups. With the Dixie cups in place, every carrier appeared to have a warm, glowing little lamp suspended in the air. Prior to our arrival, flowers had been thrown into the ocean to honor Japan and the victims of the quake and tsunami. A variety of individuals were gathered: families with old and young alike, couples and their dogs, students and professionals. Grief and reverence hung heavy in the air as various speakers shared condolences, including Mayor Bob Foster, his wife Nancy Foster, and organizer of the event, community activist Justin Rudd.

Justin organized the event in response to the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11. Relief teams are still working in Japan to rescue survivors and helpla-0315-japan02-300x190 stabilize the state of the country. The quake and following tsunami shocked the world and left California in particular in fear of the after shocks that were sure to hit our coast. Thankfully, other than damage done in Santa Cruz, California didn’t see anything compared to the tragedy in Japan, with the death toll estimated to be over 10,000.

Individuals with friends and family in Japan also spoke and gave us an update on their well being. Thankfully all reported their loved ones were safe. They asked the attendees for any aid they would be willing to send to Japan, as food is hard to find and money is needed for rebuilding. Speakers also asked for continued thoughts and prayers to be lifted up for Japan. Justin closed with reminding us that we shared the same ocean with Japan, we shared the same sky, and gaze at the same moon. They are our brothers and sisters.

His last statement in particular struck me. The people suffering are not so different from us: they have families, they go to work, they have dreams and ambitions. They are not even so far away, merely across the Pacific Ocean that we mutually share. And these people, so very similar to us, are going through something I can’t even imagine. Although I had seen footage of the flooding and damage in Japan, it never really clicked that those are real people on my TV screen, real people with real lives that have now been interrupted. I’m thankful to Justin and the other attendees for opening my eyes to the reality of this tragedy, and for devotedly doing what they can for the Japanese people.

The tragedy rattled me on Friday. I woke up to a Tsunami warning, something completely foreign to someone who just moved to the coast from the Deep South. What were we supposed to do? Should we grab all our valuables? What is a necessity and what isn’t? It may sound ridiculous now in the light of the disaster that did not happen on our coast, but it definitely put everything in perspective. It made me think about what I really did value, and it made the things I had done the day before look incredibly useless and mediocre with the thought of losing everything. Granted, yes, these are the ponderings of a half-awake girl from West Texas who never expected to even hear about a potential tsunami, but if I was feeling this way with just a small warning, how must the victims in Japan feel? They really did lose everything in some cases, and food is scarce. How must that feel? How must it feel to dig through the debris of what used to be your house, looking for you belongings? How must it feel to wait for your car to be pried open, desperately waiting to see if your family is inside? I can’t possibly imagine.

My attention was gained by this tragic disaster, and my heart goes out to the hurting and the victims in Japan. Too often I get caught up in the tasks for the day to day, and don’t think about the loved ones around me, or how I might be able to help the people in my community. If anything, I don’t want to take anything for granted. Life is too short, and disaster could strike at any moment. Because of that, and because flooding and earthquakes are not foreign to California soil, please prepare for disaster for the sake of your loved ones and family. Make an emergency plan. Look into flood and earthquake insurance. Try to take account for anything that is a necessity. And please take the time to live life to the fullest and not to waste a single moment. Anything can happen without any sort of notice and before you know it you will be out of time.

For more information on how to help Japan in the midst of this disaster, visit sites for organizations such as American Red Cross or World Vision to make a monetary donation. Click here for other ways to help while browsing the internet or texting,and here for other ways to donate. If you know of any other convenient ways to make a donation, please comment here.

Have a wonderful weekend! :-)

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