Earthquakes & Aftershocks

Life is notorious for those harrowing moments that become the game changers… Moments that you won’t fully grasp how significant they are until the moment is over and you’re left with a memory. Within an instant, life as you knew is gone and you’re left with pieces that you’re expected to somehow fit back together.

I remember waking up and hearing the TV. My attention was immediately drawn to the news reporters’ wavering voices as they were broadcasting about a devastating earthquake in Italy. I thought of all the families whose lives had been affected and would never be the same as it once had been. I remember the moment that I looked at my life and thought, “Things are going to be different now”.

Like an earthquake, life has moments that shake you to the core… The ground crumbles underneath you and you’re left with deciding which piece of dry land looks the safest (when you can see that the ground is cracked and disturbed on both sides). Where do I go from here? My foundation collapsed. My most prized possessions are damaged and they’ll never be the same again. I had to choose between starting over in the same town while having constant reminders of catastrophe before my eyes or moving far away and starting over from scratch. I could build a new house somewhere else or attempt to gather remains from my childhood home and attempt to rebuild my life. If I choose to stay on the same land I’ve always known, I’ll have to become  acquainted with imperfections in the land I’d previously called home. I’ll have to accept the fact that my favorite oak tree isn’t here anymore, as it was destroyed when the earthquake hit. The little creek that used to be filled with peaceful chirps and buzzing is now vacant of life. It isn’t the same anymore and it will likely never return to its “pre-quake” state. The earthquake destroyed the foundation of my life as well as the lives closest to me. No matter how hard I try to shove the trauma and fear out of my mind, I’ll never be able to forget the sheer terror I felt as I watched everything around me crumble. I’ll try to forget, I will… But sometimes life has memories that you aren’t supposed to push out… Life events which teach you lessons (that you never wished to explore in the first place). As much as you hate the reality of the events, you know that it has somehow molded you into the person you’ll ultimately become. I just have to deal with the reality of this earthquake- MY “earthquake”- Just as some have to cope with losing their homes due to hurricane Katrina.

While some are facing circumstances of brutal natural disasters, I am here fighting a different disaster of my own- Mast Cell Disease. A piece of me crumbled when I saw my entire life fall to the ground while another part of me became stronger. I’m proud to be stronger. I’m okay with this version of myself. I just have to keep reminding myself that this wouldn’t have come to be had I not endured the earthquake that changed me to the core.

Just as you begin to re-discover your life under new circumstances… Just as you begin to recover from the trauma… You’re hit by the aftershocks. The aftershocks threaten to undo any and all progress you may have overcome since the initial event. Everyone knows that aftershocks come after an earthquake, but we never imagine being held hostage by its wrath. “What are the chances of this happening to us?”, we ask. No matter how prepared you think you are, there are complications that arise… The game-changers. What are you supposed to do when your place of refuge is disheveled? Where do you run to? When we’re in the middle of damage control, we fail to see how many people are there for us. We forget about the citizens who are donating their time and a fraction of their pay checks to help us recover. Never forget that there are always people who are looking out for you. Don’t forget that you are never alone, no matter how lonely and isolated life is capable of making you feel. Brighter days will lie ahead and there will always be someone to help you through the earthquake and its aftershocks.