Thirty-Eight Minutes
“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”  This message appeared on our phones, Saturday, January 13, 2018, at 8:07 a.m.Most of the people on the mainland didn’t hear about it until after the false alarm message was issued and so cannot really understand the depth of terror we went through.

We received the false alarm message at 8:45 a.m. For thirty-eight minutes I believed that my life was ending or would be changed forever.

We immediately started closing windows and storing pots and bowls of water in the refrigerator. We considered where to hide. We calculated the time it would take radioactive fallout to reach us if the bomb hit Honolulu.

I thought about my life, my children and grandchildren, my goals, and my dreams.

I was terrified.

When we got the false alarm message, my body shook uncontrollably, and I couldn’t stop crying.

I don’t know what really happened that day. The news reports change repeatedly. We heard that the “button pusher” accidentally pushed the button, then we heard that he pushed it intentionally because he heard it was a real threat. Videos on YouTube show strange occurrences in the sky at the time of alert. I know we’ll never get the truth. The point is that it doesn’t really matter. The event changed me irrevocably. It changed the life of many here on the island. We heard a report that the event did not have much effect on the people of the island. How can that be when folks were calling their loved ones to say goodbye, parents were lowering their children down manholes, and people were abandoning their cars and running for their lives?

Over the next week I experienced anxiety. Conversations at home involved blast radiuses, prevailing wind patterns, emergency rations, and costs of Geiger counters. Never did I think I would be having these discussions.

After the event I practiced self-care by disengaging from the news and social media frequently and spending more time in nature.

Even though my anxiety has abated I am still angry. I’m angry that we have to be concerned and prepared for such events. I’m angry that we’re not told the truth. There is nothing I can do about that though, so I need to let go of my anger and enjoy the moment and live as fully as I can. It’s a work in progress.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want out of my life. Many times, I have put off goals that I was too scared to pursue. I am working now on being bold and trying new things that normally scare me. If any benefit came from this event, it taught me to not put off doing things. My husband expressed that it reinforced the importance of being more present in the moment.

There is no message I am trying to pass along or convey to my readers. I only wanted to share my experience with you.

Living fully,
Heather

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