I came home for an hour at lunchtime yesterday as I had been unwell overnight, and wanted to have a short rest.
Just before I was about to leave home I switched on the TV to see what was happening in the world. With utter horror and disbelief I was confronted with live footage of the tsunami sweeping over northern Japan.
I was glued to the screen, compelled to watch despite the fact that I knew that people were caught in the devastation unfolding before me.
There is such a mix of emotions at a time like this. I was willing there to be less suffering than the horrific images indicate. There was shock and disbelief at the incredible destruction and fragility of life. As a humanitarian and development professional, I found myself immediately connecting into response and relief updates. I had not expected however, that I would suddenly feel as if I had been instantly transported back to December 2004. (I was in the Andaman Islands at the time of the Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami, and it was incredibly traumatic, particularly for our families). Contact with my family back in Scotland confirmed that we were all taken back to that day.
Last year not long after the earthquake struck Haiti I wrote a long post for the blog, which I never actually posted. I reflected how introspective I had become due to cancer taking over my life and noted that the recent global disasters had kicked me out of that. This had been prompted by the fact that I had been contacted to see if would be available for the response. I felt that as a bald, single breasted, fully signed up member of the chemo club I would not be much assistance, so declined the invitation for deployment. I have re-read that post today as it seems particularly poignant and will revise and post in the coming few days.
The words of Sting particularly strike me – both in the bigger scheme of things as well as in our own immediate worlds “lest we forget, how fragile we are”. We are indeed.