Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sometimes you need to cry to be strong

On Saturday, March 11, 2012 I sat down in front of a video camera to record a simple thank you message to all those who had so selflessly helped in one way or another a year before when, at 2.46 on a cold and wet afternoon, first the earth shook and then the seas came. And they didn't stop. And I couldn't make the video. I knew the words I wanted to say and the people I wanted to thank but the sound simply wouldn't come. Each time I pressed the red record button I choked. Time and time again.

On a March weekend some seventeen years earlier I had visited Kobe to see a city destroyed. Small groups of people were gathered in the wreckage saying prayers for the family members they'd lost. At the time I thought this was the closest I would ever see to a war zone, something, thankfully, I have never experienced. Within twenty seconds the city had been razed and nearly 6,000 lost. I grew up in the countryside of northern England. We didn't have earthquakes there, or tsunami or typhoons, tornados or floods for that matter. We just had rain.

So I packed up the camera a walked with my son back into the house, turning on the television and watching the memorial services. My son had made a video a year earlier. Many had but this one made just a little difference. A message I'd received from Tohoku from a lady there made the point. We were all so shocked that day we'd forgotten to cry but here note, written from a shelter, told me how it had helped her start to weep. With strangers all around she'd cried like a child. And then she felt strong. And that was good.

Miki Endo stayed at her desk announcing over the city loud speaker system
that the wave was coming. She saved hundreds in her town at the cost of
here own life. March 11, 2011.

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