I absolutely cannot believe its been seven months since the earthquake in Haiti. In some ways it feels like it was just yesterday, and in some ways I feel like it was forever ago.
I've been thinking about writing a blog about healing. I can't even begin to explain how much progress I have made in the past 7 months. Last week there were a few times that I thought, "wow, did I even think about the earthquake today?" Which, by thinking that I guess I did, but still. Its progress. Or is it?
I prayed (still do pray) both for and against the day that I don't think about the earthquake. Part of me wants to move on and be a normal functioning human being again. But a very large part of me doesn't ever want to forget any detail of what I saw, or heard, or felt, or smelled...(smelt?) I'm caught in between wanting to have a heart that is healed and feeling incredibly guilty about moving on. I always have to remind myself that its not like I'm forgetting, or brushing those people and experiences aside. I'm just dealing with them differently.
I'm in Destin, Florida right now with my family and had no idea of some of the triggers that were here. I was walking through the parking lot with my family for dinner yesterday and then started crying...
What? where did that come from?! Why am I crying?
Oh, the last time I was in Florida was right after the earthquake. I didn't know that thought would even cross my mind, or bother me.
I feel like I keep looking at the clock today at crucial moments. Like I looked at the clock and it was 4:50. Three minutes before the earthquake. 7 months ago at that time I was sleeping soundly having no idea what was about to happen. 6 months ago at that time I was sitting in Mugwalls coffee shop trying to study and looked at the clock, burst into tears and had to leave. Then for the next 3 hours I had flashbacks and re-lived all that happened during the earthquake and aftermath. Today, there were no tears. I said a prayer for my people and thanked my God for His faithfulness to bring me to this point.
7 months ago, January 12, 2010. My life was changed forever. At this time of the day I was laying in my bed. We weren't allowed to sleep outside that night because we were told our buildings were sound enough and were going to be fine. That didn't stop me from pulling my mattress off the top bunk and dragging it RIGHT up next to the door. The mattress was useless. I knew I wasn't getting any sleep. With every tremor, which felt like they were only 45 seconds apart and still VERY LARGE in magnitude I grew more fearful. Much more fearful than I had been during the actual quake. During the actual quake I was confused, half asleep, and thought it must not have been that bad because our buildings were fine. That night I was not so blissfully ignorant.
I KNEW how bad it was. I had just spent the last 7 hours as a severe acute trauma nurse. I had heard the incessant cries of "Anmwe! (Help!)" As I tried to get people cleaned they were saying, "Li fe mal! We! Li fe mal!" (it hurts! ouch! it hurts!) I would hear them cry out to "Jesi" to hear them and be with them. I repeated over and over again in Creole, "I know it hurts. I am here. I love you. Jesus knows. Jesus is here, Jesus loves you."
As I lay there that night I still felt like I had the smell of burnt skin and blood all around me. Every time I closed my eyes I saw their faces, heard their voices telling me how badly it hurt, but please hurry so they could see their wife, or children again before they died. Absolute heartbreak. At that point I was in total survival mode. I thought when I took a shower earlier that I would cry and try to process some of it, but I couldn't. I had to stay strong or I wasn't going to make it. I put on my scrubs to sleep in, just in case I needed to get up in the middle of the night. Then I grabbed my prayer journal.
You should see my handwriting from that night. It looks like I'm a 4 year old trying to write while riding a roller coaster. Its the "I'm terrified" handwriting.
I never want to lose this prayer journal. I am so thankful that I have it. It is my immediate raw response to my fear. God worked so many miracles that day in the midst of all that tragedy. That tragedy didn't catch Him off guard. Not at all. Looking back at what I wrote that night I am still floored by what I said. I literally could not stop thanking God. (What?!) I know, I'm still surprised. Every time I go back and read that it surprises me. That's not what I remember feeling. But God gave me peace and thankfulness. I ended with this
"Guard my life and rescue me. Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me because my hope is in You." Psalm 25:20-21
So last night I went to go see Charlie St. Cloud. Honestly, when I decided to go I didn't even know the name of the movie. I thought it was called, "The new Zac Efron movie." I knew a small part of the plot, but not much. I was fully prepared to cry throughout the movie, because I cry at some point in almost all movies. (Including Despicable Me and Toy story 3... bawled in them both.)
So anyway... went to go see Charlie St. Cloud. (If you have not seen it and want to, don't read this post until after you see it. I'm going to discuss plots and themes. Consider yourself warned.)
First off, it really was a good movie. A bit cheesy at some points, but it has to be. Its Zac Efron. Don't get me wrong. I love him. And Justin Bieber. And the Jonas Brothers. I'm not ashamed. I'm a 12 year old girl who missed her calling in life as a Disney voice actress. But its fine. No big deal.
Ok, here are the spoilers... so in this movie Zach (Charlie St. Cloud) is super close with his little brother. They end up getting in a car accident in which they both die. The paramedics resuscitate Charlie with an AED, but Sam, the little brother, does not make it. The rest of the movie is about how Charlie can't move on or let go. He doesn't want to. He doesn't want to move on and pretend like his little brother didn't mean the world to him. He doesn't want to have fun and live life while his brother can't. He has always felt guilty about being the one that survived and got a second chance. But of course he has to move on. In order for him to heal properly he has to move on. Its not easy, but he can do it with help.
Of course at the end of the movie he gets the girl that helps him overcome his problems, but its not without a LOT of pain and a lot of struggles along the way.
This movie pushed all of my "Cry buttons."
1. He has friends in the military that don't make it home. (If you don't know why my heart is close to the military read my last post.)
2. Its about his little sibling (while I haven't blogged about my little sisters I DO love them dearly!)
3. deals with great loss
4. Car accidents- Just so sad.
5. feelings of guilt for surviving
6. sailing... I don't really know... there is something so emotional about the ocean.
So what's the point of all of this? Not that I totally "identified" with this movie, but it did make me think a lot. I got in the car to drive home, tossed my hair and tried to shake it off. Then I thought, "Why don't we just slow down and think about all of this for a second?".... Then "How Deep the Father's Love For Us" Came on my iPod.
Cue tears.... small tears and a whirlwind of thoughts.
I haven't talked a lot about this, but I have wrestled with the Lord so many times and asked over and over why did I survive the earthquake and not all those children and others? I would be fine if I died. I would go straight to Heaven and start shouting praises to my King! What is greater than that? I have wished so many times that I could have died instead of the children. Or instead of the ones that didn't know Christ. I have felt guilty that I survived. That I left. That I have the luxury of clean water and a roof over my head. That I still have a family. That I have an education. on and on and on ad nauseum.
The earthquake in Haiti was the 7th deadliest earthquake on record in the history of the world! The WORLD, people. I'm talking since "in the beginning." (according to Wikipedia).
And I was right in the middle of it. Came out with some bruises, back pain, grey hair, and bags under my eyes, but I am 100% fine. One of the questions that someone asks Zac in the movie is, "what are you going to do with your second chance at life?"
I started thinking about how I was given a second chance at life too and I shouldn't be guilty about it. Then I thought about a line in one of my absolute favorite songs, "No guilt in life, no fear in death! This is the power of Christ in me." Then something clicked...
...Cue more tears. Big tears. I'm talking pull-the-car-over-you-are-going-to-wreck tears.
I was already given a second chance at life! This was my third chance! Hallelujah!! Christ saved me from death once already, when HE died in MY PLACE!! He didn't feel guilty about coming back to life! He died and gave ME a second chance at life, as a gift! And I took the joy that I found from that and use it to walk through life! So the earthquake was not my second chance at life. It was my third!
Its really hard for me to express all of this in my writing, but I just had such a sweet revelation last night. I got to spend some time just weeping for joy because of the gift of true, real life I have received twice now.
I am so thankful for moments such as these when God uses everyday things like a Zac Efron movie, or lyrics to my favorite hymn, to bring me to worship Him. I love it when something like this happens to forever make that line of that song special. Love it.
Thank you, Sweet Savior for saving my life and teaching me about your love.
(...and thank you for Zac Efron.)
I've really missed writing recently and honestly have started about 5 blog posts in the past couple of weeks. Part of my problem with posting them is that I haven't had a complete thought process in a few weeks. I haven't had anything that I wanted to write about that I had completely thought out, or knew how to express. But now I do, so here we go!
I have been reminded recently, through some very hard circumstances, how much I love my brother, Coleman. I have a dear friend who's brother is enlisting in the Navy today and she has called me several times for counsel and to ask, "how did you ever get through this?" Its gotten me thinking a lot about my brother and I just wanted the world to know how great he is.
I tell people that Coleman and I were basically raised like twins. We are 2 years apart, but my mom always had us matching and playing with each other. (I got some of his hand me downs, notice the train on my jumper in above picture.) For the first 4 and 1/2 years of my life it was just me and him. We played all the time. I've been reminded that we both had cars like this red one. powered by our little feet pushing us along. I had a blue convertible, and we would go around and around the circle in our living room and kitchen all evening before dinner.
We played for endless hours doing heaven-knows what outside. We've played in many a sprinkler, slip-n-slide, and ant pile! After we started homeschooling and after he had gotten a bb gun for christmas, we used to go outside and wear our red AWANA sparkies vests and pretend we were the British Red Coats in the Revolutionary war... So fun... until little sister got shot with the bb gun!
I have a lot of good memories with Coleman. One thing that kept us close was homeschooling. We ended up being only one grade apart from each other, but we did a lot of the same schoolwork. He was ahead in math and science, but my mom usually did the same program with us for history and reading.
And then Hopie was born!
Once Hope and Grace came along we earned the title, "The Big Kids", as opposed to "The Little Girls." Those titles have stuck with us even until now!
Once we got to highschool Colemanan and I stayed close and probably even got closer than before. I know there were times that he wanted to murder me for coming into his room and bothering him, but somewhere deep in his heart he loved it. We spent countless hours together in the car on the way to basketball, volleyball, football, and baseball practice. We had all the same friends, were in a lot of the same classes, etc.
I am so thankful for my brother. He taught me so much about life and love. I have not always been a good sister or friend to him, but he has never done me wrong. Through everything he has loved me unconditionally. He has taught me so much about courage and honor.
Coleman got accepted to the United States Naval Academy and went to Plebe summer after a short 3 weeks working at Frontier Camp, we all loaded up in the RV to road trip to Maryland to drop him off. That was the best-worst vacation ever. I felt like we were making a vacation out of getting rid of my brother. While we did have a lot of fun on that trip the reality that he was leaving was setting in. The above picture was taken the night before he reported. We had fun and laughed a lot that night, but it was all bitter sweet.
He surprised me by coming home for my graduation. Notice the teary eyes above :)
Coleman is a man that loves his country and loves his military job. I am so proud of what he has done already and I can't wait to see what God is going to do with him for the rest of the journey. His time at the academy grew and shaped him in so many ways and he loved it. I wouldn't go so far as to say that he loved every second of it, and we sure hated not having him around, but I am so proud of what he was doing.
We've had good times together since he's been gone in the military. He's now graduated from the Naval Academy and is in Charleston, South Carolina for Submarine school.
I'm so proud of all that he's done and what he will do in the future.... You should be too :)