I’m thinking of taking my wife and wrapping her in cotton wool for the next couple of months. Already pregnant with what we’re hoping will become our first child, she was diagnosed with breast cancer around the same time and has spent the past month in medical limbo as doctors waited for the more stable second trimester to begin before launching any surgical intervention.
That was just for starters. Then last week, her father passed away and we spent the next few days performing funeral duties. By the end of it she was emotionally drained and even looking forward to relaxing for a few days of forced hospital recuperation away from the rest of the world.
On Friday afternoon she’d just come out of the operating theater and was working the anesthetic out of her system when the 9.0 earthquake rocked the east coast of Japan. I’m never that sure where to run when the building starts shaking, but even that confusion must be better than lying on a hospital gurney attached to all sorts of wires and tubes to inject and remove fluids. For the terrifying four minutes or so that the quake shook the building and objects flew about the place she could only lie there and hope it stopped. I was ready to throw myself across the bed railings if anything looked like falling on top of it, though I knew deep down it wouldn’t have done much good.
I’m happy to report that this week from hell ended with all three of us intact. My wife’s surgery went without any other hitch and we can hear the baby’s little heart still pounding away on the ultrasound. I don’t even feel very good about calling it a week from hell when thousands of people to the north of me had lives, families, homes, even whole towns wiped out by the tsunamis that carried on the earthquake’s mayhem. I can only speak from the perspective of one man who wants to protect his own loved ones from harm and, even though I can claim no credit for the result, I’ll accept it, respecting the forces of nature that randomly select some for destruction and others for longevity. Railing at the unfairness of it all, at the innocents killed and villains spared. From funerals to ultrasound videos I’ve seen life at both ends this week, and realize the only answer is that old cliche after all: appreciate what you have, while you have it.
As I write this, those same natural forces rock our building with hourly aftershocks, and are still deciding whether to add nuclear disaster to poor Honshu’s string of misfortune. Declaring an end to the week from hell would be premature. My wife’s ordeal hasn’t finished yet and neither has Japan’s. Fingers well crossed.