• Feeling the Quake, Right to My Core

    by Christy Sillman

    Driving home last Friday (March 11), I took my usual route by the Sacramento Shipping Yard along the Sacramento River. I was stunned to see that the water had risen to the glass level, that in fact, the effects of the Japanese earthquake had reached my little corner of the world. It was nothing but evidence to how BIG this Earthquake was.

    The images have been terrifying. Shocking. The stuff my nightmares are made of.

    Instantly, I think about myself in the survivors’ shoes. I imagine the panic that would set in when I couldn’t find out if the people I love were okay. And worst of all, being separated from Noah and Steve like many Japanese are from their immediate families.

    Watching towns be swept away in Japan rocks you to your core. It shows us how quickly life can be erased, how despite all of our differences, our humanity binds us. We value similar things: family, love, children and community.

    I can’t stop thinking about how angry the earth is. A 9.0 earthquake — I’ve never heard of such a thing. The earthquake moved the island of Japan by eight feet… eight FEET! It’s time we change how we’re treating Mother Earth — maybe she’s had enough of our insensitivity towards her?

    I’m at a loss for how to help. After Haiti’s devastating earthquake, I registered with an international disaster relief organization to travel as a relief nurse. I am waiting for a call… but am unsure what I will do when I get it. I feel a need to help, to be there for the people of Japan, but I can’t imagine leaving Noah and Steve and traveling to such a radioactively unstable area. Guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

    I remember the day of the earthquake, watching the tsunami waves reach our shore on California, and boats of the Santa Cruz harbor being smashed. There was a lady on the news hysterically sobbing over the loss of her boat. HER BOAT! I was so enraged… this is what the news was covering that day? Screw you and your stupid boat, lady — how many Japanese people just lost their entire family?!?

    Even Facebook status updates were pissing me off… stupid gimmicky prayer chains, and even worse, updates about Starbucks free cake popsicles?!? REALLY? This is your status of the day? Even my patient’s parents, whose child is extremely critically ill, took the time to watch the news that day and question how they could help. Now THAT is selfless empathy!

    Just like Haiti, the sensationalism of the disaster will subside, and we’ll get back to focusing on the Tea Party vs. Obama, and don’t forget we have a royal wedding next month. But what about the Japanese people? We go on living our lives while theirs is destroyed. It just doesn’t seem fair. But how do we help?

    Like Debra. DeAngelo so poignantly stated on her Facebook status update… I wish I could just hold the entire country of Japan in my arms.

    For now I feel all I can do is donate to the Red Cross. It’s a start. Doesn’t seem like enough, but it’s a start. You can donate too, right now: www.american.redcross.org



    • Thank you for this post. I have just recently returned from Japan and it has the beauty that I have never seen before in my life. The beauty is in the people and their grace, dignity and love of nature. I know they will survive but they need our help. I have given lots of money to different charities that are on the ground there. I use Charitynavigator.org as my guide. I give to charities that give 97% or more to actual giving and have less than 1-3% overhead. The Japanese people are resourceful and respectful of their country and all that it holds. It will take a decade to return to normal if that is possible. I will be holding the people in the light until that time.


      • David Lacy

      • March 20, 2011 at 11:04 am
      • Reply

      A reflective and much-needed piece. Thanks Christy.


      • Norbie Kumagai

      • March 20, 2011 at 2:53 pm
      • Reply

      Thank You Ms. Sillman: When I see the news updates (msnbc & cnn, not a huge fixed news fan) about Japan, most of them have been focusing on the nuclear reactors. Occasionally you see videos of some of the earthquake/tsunami survivors wandering around in a snowstorm!!

      I keep forgetting that it snows in Northern Japan.

      Thanks for your most insightful column…



    • May we all continue to hold the people of Japan in our hearts. Sending light and prayers and whatever else we are able. Your sympathy is heartfelt. Thank you for this caring piece.



    Leave a Comment