Wednesday, March 23, 2011

To my children...

Dear Gavin and Evelyn,

I am sorry. I am so sorry that you had to ever be so close to such a life threatening, life changing tragedy. All a mother wants to do is protect her matter what. From harm, from illness, from bad people, and from experiencing horrifying things. So I am sorry I could not keep you from this.

I know that it must be scary to go through something like that as a small child. And it must be even scarier to see fear in all the adults eyes too. Gavin, I tried my hardest to be brave during the earthquake, but after a couple of minutes, I was REALLY scared. And I might have let you see that fear. I tried to explain what was happening so you could learn from this, but there were moments during some of the aftershocks and subsequent EQs (as we now call them) that I literally couldn't breathe or talk. And Evelyn, I am the most sorry that I wasn't there with you. As soon as we realized that your bus was not coming I RACED as fast as I could to get you at your school. It tore my heart apart when I got there to see you crying for your mommy, surrounded by children whose parents got there quicker than I did.

The night of the EQ your daddy and I didn't leave your sides. Even with all the strong aftershocks, you two were OUR rocks. Being together was all that mattered. I knew I was okay as long as you two and your daddy were with me. We played musical-beds since no one wanted to sleep alone.

With that being said, I am so proud of how you have handled things since then. I KNOW it was scary to go back to school. I KNOW it was scary to go to sleep in the dark by yourself. I KNOW it was hard to see mommy scared too. Our 'normal' was no longer. Some friends started leaving Japan. Your teachers started leaving. Our base was scheduled for electricity black outs. The Japanese schools were canceled. You were not allowed outside to play during recess. I am so proud also that you were so excited to go back to visit PA, for 'spring break' as you know it.

Again, I thought of myself as the luckiest mom in the world. You both stepped up and were great on our 30 hour trek back to the states. We woke up, ate breakfast and boarded the bus for the airport at 8am. Luckily, you slept more than 1/2 the way!!! The line to check in was LONG and the security line was LONGER - but again, you did great. We were lucky to have a friend with us to help entertain you - but you still made it so easy! You watched movies, played DS, and watched planes take off and land while we waited to board our initial flight. Once on the plane, you ate dinner, played games and then went to sleep for over 8 hours!!! People surrounding us told me how good and well behaved you were. And how lucky I was!!! You continued your good behavior (for the most part) all the way through until Poppop Why and Kiki picked us up, and all the way until we got back to Tishymom's house at after midnight...more than 30 hours after we left our home. Even now, 4 days later, you have adapted to jet lag, you have been willing to tell your stories to people, and you want to experience fun things (like the Please Touch Museum) instead of just staying in and playing Wii.

I know that, together, we will learn from this. We will learn how important it is to care for others. We will learn, from the Japanese, that we will be respectful and supportive of each other. We will learn the importance of donating time, resources and money to charities that can help people. We will learn.

And most importantly, I want you to know I will NEVER stop trying to protect you. I want you to know that NONE of this is your fault (an assumption that adults know to be true - but that sometimes children can feel). And I want you to know that together, we can get through this. This is a link for a book about a mother's instinct to protect - especially after earthquakes!

I love you forever and always.

Monday, March 21, 2011

for those not on facebook...

I feel like I have to say something - although I am mad at myself for feeling like I have to say it (if that makes any sense). I am pleading with all of our friends and family (and please tell you friends and family) that the decision to leave or not leave Japan is ONLY about what is best for that specific family. I fully support those people who want to leave (heck, I am one of them) and also for those that stay. For us, The 4 Bulls, our decision to leave was not based on fear. At first, it was...but it never felt right, so we never went ahead and made arrangements to leave. It made me sick (literally) and tore me apart trying to make a decision based out of fear. If I was scared enough to be running away - how could I possibly leave my husband here in danger? How would I sleep at night knowing my friends on base, and my Japanese friends off base were in trouble? How could I possibly think that I might not come back to my home again and that the kids might never see their toys again? If I left, would Patrick think I was abandoning him? Would I be teaching the kids to run from things when they got scared? Would I ever feel safe coming back to Japan again if I did leave?

And I know that the people back in the states are seeing a sensationalized version of what is really happening. So many of you sent me heartfelt messages to "get the eff outta here"!!! "Better safe than sorry". "No one knows the effect it could have on kids". You name the reason - and almost every single one of my friends (and their friends and their friends) wanted us home. But again, that was out of fear. It is not a way I want to live my life.

I had a great talk with 2 wives here. I don't really know what they said, or how they said it, but something clicked in me. I truly felt that it was safe here. I am not fearful of the radiation because I know for certain that we are monitoring the air every hour. I know if anything changes they have the ability to get people out of here. I am still a little afraid or more earthquakes - but I think that is normal (you know, after being in a 9.0 (6 for where we are) for 2.5 minutes). I stopped really freaking out after about our 200th one. Now, I look at my wine glasses clanking together and just hope they don't break. But I also know that the earthquakes weren't what devastated this area. On all the videos y'all are seeing - please notice that even in the area closest to the quake, the houses are still standing. No buildings fell in tokyo. Sure, it bent the tip of Tokyo Tower - but for the most part, Japan was prepared for this. What is not able to be controlled in the path and destruction of the tsunami. But we are much further inland and higher ground for that to affect us. So I am not fearful of that.

Once my fears subsided, I decided it WAS best for us for the kids and I to come home. Evelyn is on spring break for 3 weeks. Gavin will have 10 days off soon. Patrick may be called to do humanitarian relief. Trains are down. Teachers are leaving. Activities are being canceled. As much as things are business as usual here, it is not necessarily our every day life. It is all people talk about. And once the US Embassy started voluntary evacuations, we felt like it was best for Japan to get the panicked foreigners out. The Japanese are such a structured, non-chaotic, calm, peaceful culture. It is best for their recovery to get back to normal. I believe in my heart of hearts that if I do leave...I WILL come back home here. Patrick WILL be safe. And my friends WILL thrive.

There are more people than not who are deciding to stay until FORCED to leave. This is not a decision they made out of being stubborn or naive. It is a very hard decision to stay also. They have people constantly contacting them telling about the fears they should have. But what everyone has to realize is THIS IS OUR HOME. Our husbands have to stay, and if we truly do not fear danger than we will stay too. Some people can't afford to go. Or some people think it will scare their kids more if they leave.

Whatever decision people make, I beg of you to accept it and pray for them regardless. I chose to buy a ticket (thanks to my loving parents to help with the cost) instead of getting evacuated out. This means that I have to face hours on a bus (imagine traffic now that the trains are down) and then hours in the terminal (try to picture the scene at Tokyo's airport right about now) by myself with 2 kids. Then a 14 hour flight to Chicago, with a lay over, then another flight to Philly. But, if we went with the evac - we could end up in Korea or Singapore or somewhere, sleeping in a gym on some cots. Or we could get back to the states. It is all up in the air now.

As for the 4 Bulls, we feel that we have made the right choice and hope people understand. We are not running out of fear, but there were many more pros than cons for us specifically. We are so blessed to be part of Yokota Air Base, the United States Air Force and welcomed guests of Japan. I truly believe the military and government is doing exactly what needs to be done and has our best interest at hand. They have done remarkable things and I am sad that I will be missing some of seeing that first-hand.