We’ve been waiting for the big one for as long as I can remember. An earthquake with catastrophic consequences like the one that hit our neighboring Haiti some years ago.
It’s proven elusive showing up in forms of short, but definitely noticed ones along the years. In the recent years they’ve shown up a bit more often then I would like.
Yesterday was on of those days.
I was at my aunt’s kitchen chatting with my cousin on the phone when it hit.
I was pulled down or so I thought as that kitchen rattled and growled as if it had become alive. Immediately I reached for Ian and walked outside to the porch, everything was moving. I wasn’t even scared to tell you the truth, I felt terrified.
I pulled the baby close, he’s usually fidgety now a days with me hugging or pulling him close. However, his little face turned solemn and became very quiet. He knew something was very wrong. As those brief seconds passed and my mom and aunt were trying to get a grip of themselves I took Ian’s cue and remained as quiet as he had become.
Yesterday’s baby was 5.8!
When it seemed everything was over, we remained still, waiting for the aftershocks. To our surprise, NONE happened. My husband later told me, “I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.”
My mind would come back to Ian’s face expression.
My phone began ringing almost immediately, however I can’t even recall all the conversations that went on. The basic point was that it had been horrible, with all members of my family trying to give their explanations on why it had happened.
One of my favorites came from my 74-year-old aunt that stated without a doubt, “this is God’s wrath”. I totally understood her point of view since she is a life long believer and professed Christian.
I tried to explain to her that God would not like people to live through the suffering a major earthquake would bring to many lives. That it had to do with how nature works, sorry to say that my message didn’t go through her head.
I tried not to think about how many preachers would use yesterday’s events to manipulate and scare people even more.
As we walked to my mom’s house, Ian talked for the first time after the event and told me, “Mami, la casa se esta cayendo.” (Mommy the house is falling.) How can a three-year old come with such a great explanation for what had just happened. The house had not fallen, but it sure seemed it was falling during the quake. He assessed the situation perfectly.
The thing is he wasn’t afraid at all, probably because my arms were his security blanket.
On the other hand, my Dad who has never believed in anything and does not profess any religion, offered his quick assessment of the situation as he said,
“This is the result of people who are doing and saying things that are wrong.”
My Mom was the only one that didn’t have an opinion or explanation “at that moment” she’s probably developed one by now.
Bottom line, all of us were shocked and scared. It’s not easy to see how everything around you moves, shakes and you’re right in the middle of it. It feels as if somehow you’ve been tossed in a giant blender and that you’re moving inside of it.
And forget about those horrific sounds nature makes, as the trees with their generation long roots are shifting in the ground. It’s like the usually beautiful landscapes of nature turn into something horrific as it thunders, and the mountains I love so dearly shift and swing wailing in a song that has been as old as time on this Island.
I’ve attended seminars about how to prepare yourself when an earthquake strikes, read many articles, prepared emergency family plans, but to tell you the truth I think in the face of such a tragic event nothing will ever make us completely ready.
We’re left with a feeling of vulnerability, where we lose absolute control of what’s happening and how it will affect us forever.
One thing is for sure, all our small, big and existential problems are solved quickly, because it all goes down to one thing, survival.
So you see my “queridos amigos” , events like this one remind us that we are wimps sometimes and that change in our circumstances can come fast and furiously because that’s what life is all about.