This Saturday morning started as all Saturday mornings should.
I got out a few gluten free donuts to defrost and hubby started cooking bacon.
I later referred to our bacon as “too loud” to a friend when I explained why we didn’t hear the initial warning. Instead I was first alerted to what was “happening” in Hawaii via a text from a friend. My Apple watch vibrated on my wrist and I looked down to see a text from a local friend that only said, “OMG.” My first response was to lick the cinnamon and sugar from the donuts off my fingers and then I tapped the face of my watch to see if there was more. There wasn’t so I went to grab my phone and open the Google app to see if there was a news story I was missing.
I walked into our bedroom and grabbed my phone. That’s when it happened. I opened the home screen saw this:
“ERIC,” I choked out.
“WHAT?” he called from tending the crackling bacon.
“COME IN HERE.”
Later he told me he suspected I had found a centipede. In reality I handed him my phone and barely audibly said, “It’s happening; a missile.”
He turned off the burner and moved the bacon to a cold burner. Then he ushered the kids (10 and 8) into our bedroom while I ran to their bedroom. For some reason the first thing on my mind was to have them change out of polyester nightgowns into cotton shorts and shirts. And underwear. I’m never sure if the little one is wearing underwear and I thought that might be important.
I read a book in high school about Hiroshima. I read how the blast incinerated the clothing right off of people and left them naked, wandering the street. I was sick to my stomach as I mentally pictured Disney Princess nightgowns melted to my daughters’ gorgeous alabaster skin. I winced and checked tags to make sure everything I chose was 100% cotton. It’s *funny* what we think about when our minds are given the tiniest chance to wander.
We told the girls there was a government mandated rehearsal for emergencies but this time they needed us to act out what we would do in an emergency instead of just acknowledge the warning sirens that have begun blaring on the first business day of every month.
I suggested we play a game and we agreed on Telestrations; it’s their favorite. They asked if they could get their babies and we agreed they could. They ran down the hall and grabbed a slew of babies and stuffed animals and their coveted pink blankies. When they came back in the bedroom I looked at what they had and started to panic. In their arms were babies made of who-knows-what and their blankies that definitely aren’t made of cotton. I explained that it was cotton only on the bed and helped them select the safest lovies and tossed the blankies on the floor next to my side of the bed.
As we handed out cards and pens to begin the game I thought of my parents. My mom was going to be so mad! We begged to move to Hawaii and here we were getting prepared to be blown up by a narcissistic psycho who was egged on by our own “leader.” I typed out a text to both my parents telling them I loved them. Then I texted my mother in law telling her the same thing. As I hit send on the last text I started hearing from friends on island. Over the next 60 seconds a number of “I love yous,” were exchanged and I was sad to think of all the families feeling like our own. We closed the bedroom door and let the kids pee one more time before we settled down to play the game.
Before we got started on the game, my darling, levelheaded-in-an-emergency husband told the kids he wanted to explain a little more about what was going on. I don’t remember his words but I was surprised he was telling them so much because I was comfortable with the “practice drill” scenario explanation. Later he explained to me that he wanted them to have some control and if something scary was about to happen he wanted them to feel empowered and be able to share their real feelings. He was right. I wasn’t thinking about that. He was so right.
As he explained bad people and bad choices and ballistic missiles I cried. Then he prayed with them. I cried. I looked at my watch. It had been 15 minutes. Where was this missile? We’d been told months ago we’d have 15 minutes to shelter in place before the missile would hit. I was still thinking we should move into the storage closet in the middle of the house but where was this crazy missile? (Again, more levelheaded, hubby explained he was worried if we went in the closet things could fall on us. He was right, again.)
I looked on Facebook where I knew some of my friends would be sorting through the details because it’s 2018 and that’s where I get half my news. (I know, I don’t want to talk about it…) It was there that I saw our congresswoman’s tweet reposted. She said it was a false alarm. I read it to my husband and he started looking for more information.
I was shaking. Slowly I got confirmation that it was a false alarm and a horrible mistake had been made. We hugged our kids and explained a little more. Appetites completely gone we went back to cooking bacon for the kids. Well, my husband did. I paced back and forth in our room trying to settle my racing heart and make peace with what had just happened.
My husband was called into work. As he shaved and donned his uniform a text came through telling us it was a false alarm. This text came through a whole 38 minutes after the initial alert. Thiry. Eight. Minutes. I know there are reasons but THERE ARE NO REASONS.
He went into work and we decided we needed to run a few errands on our bikes to burn off the anxious energy. Obviously I was making tons of good decisions when I bought this many groceries and thought I could pedal them home on my bike…
Once we unloaded groceries and hubby was home from work we decided we needed something more to take our minds off of the morning. We grabbed our bathing suits and a change of clothes and headed up to Waikiki to pretend we were on vacation. After a few hours at the pool I was still a little shaky. It was a long night and into the following day before I really started to feel better at all. I keep looking at my people and relishing their presence. My own presence. Our breathing. Our eating. Their whining on our hike today. Well, I could’ve done without the whining but still – you get it.
I am grateful for them and I am grateful for our safety. For 20 minutes I thought we were about to die and then we didn’t.