Personal Stories

Earthquake! My first big one…

I bolted straight up in bed. What was the loud crack? I stared out in bleary-eyed bewilderment as everything in my room began to shake. Confusion quickly turned to terror as a wave of helplessness washed over me. Frozen in an upright state, unable to budge, I began to pray “Please God, please God, please God,” in a panicked, repetitive chant. In 10 seconds of pure, unmitigated terror, I could only think of one thing: my little boy. Six nights a week he stays with me, but this was the one night he didn’t. Was it worse where he was? It has always been my greatest fear that something catastrophic would happen, and I would be separated from my child. I imagine I’m not the only mama out there with that exact phobia.

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You see, I don’t have any substantial background in earthquakes, other than the few minor quakes and tremors I’ve experienced since living in California. For instance, I don’t know if a quake starts out at its worst, or it it can gain magnitude from the first shakes. I didn’t know if the walls around me would start to fissure and crack or the floor beneath me collapse to the apartment below. Who was I to know how long this would last? Would there be more? Living on the 3rd floor of a complex wasn’t a terribly appealing thought.

It’s incredible how much of your life flashes before you and your entire existence gets called into question in a mere 10 seconds. Your brain goes into hyperdrive, like the Millennium Falcon into light-speed. Fancy houses, designer shoes, and the latest electronic gadgets fade into nothingness in that series of split-seconds. What matters is only two things: the life of your child and your own life.

With a more powerful quake, those 10 seconds could have just as easily have resulted in total devastation. We see this happen time and time again around the world, where cities crumble and thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of lives are extinguished. In other words, I could have lost everything, including my own life.

I encourage you to take 10 seconds after you read this to stop everything, and think about what’s important in your life. Kiss your kids, your mama, your Papaw, and your friends. Maybe try it everyday. Whatever you do, don’t wait until disaster is at your doorstep to make the move.