Last week, I awoke to the news that an 8.9 magnitude earthquake, the fifth largest to ever be recorded, hit Japan. As sad as it was, I went about my morning routine, eating breakfast, getting dressed and brushing my teeth. But while I was brushing my teeth I was hit with a thought. The toothbrush fell out of my mouth mid-stroke as I ran to the top of the stairs.“Dad! Matti is in Japan!” The words barely escaped my mouth as I gasped. My classmate since preschool, neighbor and good friend was currently smack dab in the middle of the worst earthquake to hit Japan. I didn’t know what to do so I logged on to Facebook and sent Matti a private message.
Hi Matti I just heard about the earthquake and I am hoping you are okay. We are all very worried about you and understand if you cannot contact anyone but if you get the chance please let us know how you and your family are. We love you very much and are keeping you in our thoughts.
I love you,
I then proceeded to post my status about Matti and write on others’ walls. I knew I couldn’t do anything for her then, so I made sure that anyone who cared about her kept her in their thoughts. Knowing there was nothing else I could do, I went to school.
During my first hour I found myself tearing up while looking over my Algebra 2 homework. During my second I broke down crying when someone asked me if I was all right. And during my third hour I had to leave the room because I was crying so hard.
As I looked in the mirror of the bathroom and tried to calm down, many people came in and out but only one of them was kind enough to ask if I was okay. That little gesture gave me the strength to go back out and sit through class. Thankfully there was an early release and I was able to get home without causing another scene.
Yet the whole thing struck me as weird. Matti and I had been good friends for a long time, but I never would have thought that I would react in such an emotional manner in public. But every time I thought about her, whether she was crying or hurt or worse I couldn’t help but shed tears. In the past couple weeks I had become closer with her while working on the spring play but I didn’t really realize how important to me she was until I thought she was gone.
I went home and immediately checked my Facebook in hopes that she had replied. She hadn’t. My dad told me to keep my head up, that she probably didn’t have an internet connection and that she was fine, probably safe in a hotel. I did the only thing I could at that moment: I played Pokemon. I know it was silly but Matti and I loved Pokemon and I figured if I couldn’t help her I could at least feel closer to her by doing something she loved.
Two hours later and my mom told me that someone had contacted the Crabtrees and that they were all safe. I ran to my laptop to see if Matti had responded and sure enough she had written me a long message explaining what happened.
When the earthquake hit she and her family were on a bus heading to their hotel. The bus had to stop but they were lucky enough to catch a cab back to the hotel. They were safe and had food and water and were going to stay in Tokyo for an undetermined amount of time.
Matti and I kept in touch through Facebook and I was able to go about my spring break plans without worry. Yet I felt a tugging at my conscience that everything wasn’t okay. I realized that I had completely dismissed the earthquake and those suffering since I found out my friend was okay. I had learned what it was like to not know if someone close to you was alive and yet I was ignoring the earthquake and all those in need.
After going through what thousands are going through at this moment, uncertainty – fright and terror – I now know just how important it is to stay up to date when disaster strikes and how much a simple donation can help.
If you would like to donate to the Red Cross visit www.redcross.org
Every dollar counts.