In 1989 we lived in the Seattle area in Washington state. MSH was working out-of-town in Oakland, California. He called me unexpectedly from his office phone.
“Turn on your TV.”
It was late afternoon, just after 5:00 actually.
I turned on the television and he said, “That’s me. That’s here. I’m under a table in an office building that’s swaying back and forth.”
It took a minute for me to understand what was going on. An earthquake in the Oakland area. A big one from the looks of things.
We didn’t talk for long. I hung on the TV for the rest of the night. Hungry for news, afraid of the news. Finally a phone call came through from MSH. The power was out in his hotel, but he was fine. He called from the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile in front of his hotel. He chuckled.
What? I shook myself from the daze I’d fallen into.
All I cared about was that he was okay. Hearing his voice took the weight off my heart. I could breathe again.
Fast forward twelve years. MSH is working in the midwest. Iowa, although I don’t remember the city.
I was getting the kids ready for school and trying to get myself ready for work at the same time. The phone rang, far too early in the morning for an ordinary call.
It was MSH. “Turn on your TV!”
My stomach lurched.
“Just turn on your TV!!”
What I saw seemed unreal, nightmarish, horrifying. The kids stopped what they were doing and stood motionless, breathless, staring at the screen. We watched, stunned, as a towering building folded in on itself and disappeared and then another followed.
The world folded in on itself that morning. Lots of things folded under and changed with the horrific quaking that happened that early September morning. The world continues to crumple, morph and become unrecognizable.
I’m not sure I’ve caught my breath since then.
I’m not turning on the TV today.
I don’t want to remember.
But I will.
In my own quiet way.