Writing about the day to day mysteries of life.
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti and Heart-attacks

On October 17, 1989 I was living in San Francisco. This was the day of the World Series eathquake. This was before cell phone, internet and text messaging. I had lived in California for 6 month and had never been in a earthquake before. It was so frightening. I was working at the Limited with another employee from Utah. The store had stopped shaking, the glass not wavering and we got a phone call from her boyfriend back home. He told us the bay Bridge had collapsed and the Marina was on fire. We couldn't go home, because people still wanted to shop. We hand wrote receipts and let people shop until it got too dark. I heard one woman say, "maybe I should go check on my kids". I drove home across the Golden Gate bridge just before it was closed to check for damage. The city was in black out. It was scary, unnerving and discombobulating to find my way home with no street lights or business lights for markers. My building, cat and husband were fine, we had only lost our tv - big whoopee! We had no water or power for 4 to 5 days, but the Red Cross was there immediately to set up. It was eerie. People were out all night roaming around, afraid to go inside, afraid to be alone. No one wanted to be crushed in an aftershock. People set up battery operated radios and hooked tvs to car batteries and then we could finally see the damage to the city. Groups of strangers stood around these tvs and listened, talked, just sought solace from each other. We all commiserated while eating at the Red Cross tents. I am still friends with a couple we met during the earthquake. We had great food, all the restaurants donated their food, instead of it going bad. They set up phones so we could call family. This was orderly and and civilized our city infrastructure remained. I still can't believe how lucky we were.

I am so worried for Haiti. They are the poorest country in the western hemisphere. They have no infrastructure to start with. Now they have nothing. I know aid is on the way, but there is going to be violence. Look how quickly Katrina degenerated New Orleans. The scale of this devastation is so much worse. My heart goes out to these people. I can't even imagine 100,000-500,000 people dead, no hospitals, water, electricity, government buildings or government to turn to. The saddest part is how quickly this will fade from everyone's minds. How are the people now who were in Katrina, the tsunami, Afghanistan's earthquake? The media will move us to the next disaster or stupid story like Tiger Woods.

I have been thinking lately about how amazing it is that we live as long as we do and so many people have good health. There are so,so,so many things to go wrong with our bodies. It is smarmy and cliched, but everyday really is a gift. Many of my friends are mourning for someone I did not know, but is in our same circles. She was a young mom making dinner for her kids and had a heart-attack and died. Today, I am quite down with all of this. Remember life is short and to make the most of your relationships.

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