Thursday, March 10 – Huge Earthquake. I’m OK.

My son Ian and I were spending this night like most others since Yasue had left for Japan. We were alone together. On one end of the couch, he had his headphones on listening to music while connecting with friends through Facebook. On the other, I had mine on watching Netflix on my iPad.

Suddenly Ian said, “Dad, there was a big quake in Japan. Alex (a friend of his living in Tokyo) said it really rattled Tokyo.” Only half interested, I responded with, “Hmm. They had a big one just a couple days ago too.” I returned to Dexter Season 3 to learn more about blood splatter and he continued to monitor Facebook. Some time went by.

As more and more Facebook messages started pouring in, Ian worked harder to get my attention. “Dad, it was huge. It was 8.9” Suddenly, he had my attention. I asked if he knew where. He said north Japan. “East or west,” I asked. When he said east, my heart sunk. Sendai is in northeast Japan. I turned on the TV and was stunned by what I saw. The NHK helicopters were showing the first tsunami wave slamming ashore.

I reached for my phone.

Text from Yasue 8:27 p.m.: Huge Earthquake. I’m OK.

Little did I know that this is how we would communicate for the foreseeable future. She would send short emails through her cell phone and I would reply.

She was OK after the quake. But, what about the vicious tsunami we just saw. Where was she? Was she still OK? Was she with her mom in Sendai City or at home? I frantically began texting her questions.

Nothing. No response from her at all. Minutes seemed like hours, hours like days. I stared at my phone intently, willing it to give me a reply. Some time shortly before midnight Ian said, “Oh no, that’s Sendai Airport.” I looked to the T V as the tsunami overran the airport Ian knew well. Every year, he and Yasue visit Sendai for a month or more. Ian would go to school there. He would spend time with Baba and Gigi. They would play in the parks, fish along the shore, net beetles and cicadas in the cool bamboo forests, hike to shrines. He knew the area. He also knew this tsunami was bad. I knew I couldn’t let him stare at the TV.

“Ian, get on Facebook and tell all your friends in Japan that your mom is in Sendai. She was OK after the quake but we haven’t heard from here since the tsunami. I will start sending emails and making calls.” It was the beginning of a great new partnership with my son.