When I read on a friend’s Facebook over the weekend how her heart was with the residents of Hawaii, and how thankful she was, you could have painted me covered with question marks. I hadn’t a clue on what she was talking about.
There are times when I’ve gotten my breaking news stories from friends on Facebook. Not so much the details, as the headlines themselves, but this time it was cryptic. I puzzled over it, and quickly perused my Facebook for other mentions, before toggling over to Safari and typing in “Hawaii News”. My first thoughts were earthquake or tsunami, which are fearful, but nothing like what I actually found.
I wasn’t prepared to read that an Emergency Alert had been texted to the residents, advising them that a ballistic missile was coming inbound to Hawaii and stressing that this was not a drill.
What. The. Fuck.
My heart sank, not because of fear of the missile. Quick headlines showed that the “This is not a Drill” portion of the statement by now, was a misnomer. Technically it wasn’t a drill either, but a mistake made by human error of one employee. No, my heart sank at the adrenalin pumping fear that the residents of Hawaii must have felt.
In situations like this I immediately ask myself what would I do? How would I react? Would I be calm, or would I panic? When the fires hit so severely a hundred miles north of me a few weeks back, I wondered would I be prepared to grab what I needed in a matter of minutes if I was ever evacuated?
When I was a kid one of my favorite TV shows was I Love Lucy. I probably reach back to run parallels in my blogs about that show a little too much. I can’t help it, it’s who I am. Lucy and her world represented everything to me. Ultimately everything in life I can relate to a good old 30 minute rendering of comedy, as portrayed by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
Anyway, pulling up panic, and cross-referencing it to ILL, I think of the episode where Ricky, Fred and Ethel are doing dry runs in preparation of Little Ricky’s birth. They are so calm when they place a jacket around the pretend Lucy’s shoulder’s, while one coolly picks up her suitcase, and the other places the call to the hospital to advise they are on their way. I can even picture Ethel’s voice with a slight British twang to it, informing the mock hospital operator that Mrs. Ricardo is on her way.
Of course Lucy goes into labor soon after and bedlam ensues. Panicked, screaming, — I think they even leave the house, forgetting Lucy behind. It’s funny how the calm portion is so imprinted on my memory, but the chaos is a little sketchy.
I don’t like chaos. It makes me nervous. Even pretend chaos in small comedic bursts.
I know that imagining myself given a mere five minutes to grab my belongings and I too come off as cool as a cucumber. Heading to the important drawer for those papers and then gently picking up my equally calm cat and placing her in her carrier before heading out the door. Reality could be closer to confusion, where I grab one of my mom’s art pieces, more likely the one closest to me, and hastily wrap my now yowling confused cat in a towel, as I run out of the house in my underwear and bare feet.
I actually did get a banging on the door like that once. A neighbor’s bathroom was on fire, and she had been instructed by the fire department to bang on the four doors of the master unit we all shared and announce “Fire!” I had enough time to grab those most important things, but the severity of the fire seemed small, so what I felt was important, and left everything else to fate. My sleeping kid and my purse. (I had no pets at the time, so don’t think that Purse > Pet) Even the contents of the purse were replaceable. I stood out there on the cold grass at midnight, wrapped in my thick robe, arm around my kid as we waited for the fire department to arrive and then give us the green light to head back in.
Fortunately there hadn’t been much damage to her unit, let alone the neighboring three. I think the worst was a slight lingering odor of fire.
I guess my point is, we can have drills – physically or mentally, and then we can have reality. I was a bit calm when the neighbor pounded. But how many of us in reality know what to do in a nuclear warning situation?
One of the reasons I cannot watch the POTUS on the news anymore is because he just stresses me out. I won’t go on and make this political, because I’d need chapters to hit on everything, and one of my New Year’s Resolutions (so to speak) was to stop getting so worked up about things I cannot make a change with. One of the stressors I had to come to grips with, (and was surprisingly shocked more people weren’t concerned with) was if this clown had the actual ability to throw us into a nuclear situation in a pissing contest with North Korea. They are both as ego-maniacal to consider the other would lose. I seriously haven’t worried about anything like that since probably childhood. As American’s, especially of the last couple of generations, I think we’ve gotten a little relaxed, and dare I say it, complacent in our fears of nuclear wars.
While I won’t say that Trump cost me lost sleep, the combination of everything was so toxic, and for the first time since I was little and barely worried/wondered ever-so-slightly about the Russians, here were possible real nuclear threats. I came to the conclusion that whatever will be, will be (Que Sera Sera) and all the worrying in the world can’t and wouldn’t change the fates to end up the way they will. Do I want to go up in a nuclear cloud of smoke? No. But I don’t want a bus to hit me, a shark to eat me, or have a strike of lightning take me out either. We can’t all die in our sleep however, so I think coming to peace with who you are takes a lot of the fear of death away from me. I mean ultimately are we afraid of dying or simply not living anymore? I think for me it’s the latter, and when I’m dead, I won’t care that I’m not living anymore, so scratching that from the equation helps a lot.
There is really only one arena that unsettles me about the possibility of tragedy, and that is My Kids. And THAT my friends, in the long drawn out version of this post, is where I went when I thought of these ordinary citizens, these happy-go-lucky island vacationers. What the fuck are they doing about the kids.
I imagine I am sent a message basically stating “Yup, you’re probably going to die. – I’m not kidding, it’s happening” and I have to have the forethought of handling my children, without possibly panicking them. Protecting them, but how? It was my understanding that there wasn’t exactly shelters available. Some were hunkering down in bathrooms. Hotel lobbies. Some were lifting manholes and placing their children underground. Some were running around in a panic. Others were reaching out to loved ones, to let them know they loved them.
And then waiting. And wondering. Will you hear it? Will you feel it? Will your children feel it? Will it be quick? Will you survive it? Will your children survive it?
Waiting 38 fucking minutes until the government sent a new message that essentially said “Whoops. We fucked up. So very sorry about that.<insert sheepish looking emoji>” – I think the relief would be so strong, that a hysterical euphoria would hit me at that point.
But prior to?
WWGD? What would Gina do? Well assuming I’m on the island and my kids weren’t, obviously reach out to them. Hopefully by voice, but if at worst by text. Tell them how goddamn much I loved every ounce of them. How my best years alive on this earth were the ones I spent caring for them. God forbid they were with me, because I would simple love every fiber, every being of them. I’d probably suffocate them with every ounce of love I could squeeze from my body.
Because, like I’ve said it’s not the dying that scares me. It’s the Not-Living. Some say live like today is your last day. Well that would really require me to quit my job, and I really do need that. I know – I HOPE – my kids are already aware of how deep their mother’s love for them both goes. So I hate to tempt the fates, but technically, if that was my last worry – that leaves me worriless doesn’t it?
38 minutes is a long time to look at your life. To ponder on decisions made, opportunities won and lost. I wonder how many lives were changed after that? I wonder, how many lives were created in that 38 minutes? 😉