At 8:07 am, the state of Hawaii was sent a message on their phones that read:
BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
The fear that came over my husband’s face as he screamed for me to grab the kids and get into the garage closet washed over me with a flood of helplessness. I picked up my daughter, grabbed my son’s hand, and called for our German Shepherd to follow me. The garage is a mess and the closet was full. We threw strollers and totes and beach chairs out of the way and climbed into the smallest space we could.
That’s when I felt fear. I wasn’t feeling fear for myself, but as I looked into the eyes of my son who turns two next weekend and my nine month old daughter, I feared for their precious bodies we were shielding, their minds that could never understand, and the futures that could be ripped from them.
My son could perceive something was wrong and began crying so we started singing “The Wheels on the Bus” while my husband searched his phone for any sign of confirmation or false alarm. There were no sirens sounding outside so we hoped that this was somehow all a mistake. We Facetimed our parents and optimistically told them we would call them back later to let them know something.
The confirmation of that mistake came 38 minute later. They chalked it up to human error, a grave blunder that sent a panic to over a million people that thought they had mere minutes to say goodbye to their loved ones.
Now that the threat has passed, I just keep thinking about other areas in the world where fear is an every day reality – where death is always a possibility because of war and violence.
And I don’t know how those mothers and fathers cope.
The sheer helplessness I felt in that garage closet while I held my husband’s hand and we each held one of our children rocked me to a place of fear and sorrow I have never known and could only imagine those parents feel as war rages on around them.
I hope there isn’t a next time for us, but if there is, we will do what we did this time, which is hug and sing and hope. We hope that war will not touch our babies, but we can never guarantee that. My children and many other children in Hawaii will face fear and feelings of terror and that could become regular like it is for so many other children around the world.
And that, dear friends, is what rocks me.
With my husband and babies and dog all huddled in our garage, I faced today just how wonderful and privileged my life has been. And I hope for us all that we face tomorrow alive, yes. But I am full of hope that we face tomorrow with love and joy that outweighs fear.