What do you see out of your window today?

Earthquake in Japan 2011

A story by Jean McGavin



An unprecedented 8.9 earthquake has slammed the sea off the coast of Japan and a tsunami has torn into Japan and spread out across the Pacific. This happened early in the morning. I have friends in Japan, dear friends who have moved and for whom I do not have phone numbers. My friend Tamiko, who now goes by Tammy, moved into a new home with her husband a year ago. I don’t have her phone number. Another family, Miki, Hitoshi and Aiyu Murata also moved. I have lost all their contact information. I am worried about the safety of these 5 people I love and their families. I met Tamiko when I was in 2nd grade, some 50 years ago. She and I became fast friends. She had moved with her family to Arlington, VA, from Tokyo as her father had a temporary assignment in Washington, D.C. Growing up in Arlington was wonderful in that way. Interesting people came through all the time. Senators, White House staffers, diplomats from around the world, military, lobbyists and other government affiliates found comfortable homes across the river from Washington in Virginia. I don’t remember the nature of Tamiko’s father’s posting in the U.S. I remember that I loved Tamiko and her family and that I was fascinated by this exotic Japanese world they brought to my life. They taught me to use chopsticks, to eat new foods, how to wear a kimono. Tamiko moved back to Japan after only being in the U.S. for a few years. I have not seen her since. We found each other when I was in Japan in 1996. We have spoken on the phone and exchanged letters, email, gifts. I still miss her. I still want my childhood friend to giggle with and with whom to share cultures. Tamiko and her family left. I missed her desperately but having known Tamiko, I became hungry for knowledge not just of Japanese culture but of other cultures. She gave me a great gift. She became my window into other worlds and cultures. I want to see Tamiko again. She was desperate to find that I was still alive after 9/11/2001 and now I am desperate to find that she is alive and well. I also want to find out about the Murata family. A call from Miki and Aiyu Murata was the first call I received after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. They wanted confirmation that my family and I were all right. Life changes so quickly, is so fragile and the world becomes so small when the fate of a nation and your friends weighs on your heart. Japan is in a state of emergency. The nuclear reactor at Fukushima has had an explosion, radiation has leaked and there are serious concerns about a meltdown. The tsunami killed hundreds, perhaps thousands; cars, towns, houses, airplanes were floated like toys in the rage of a wave that traveled 500 miles per hour. Aftershocks have been devastating earthquakes. A global power has literally been shaken at its foundation. This is history; it is love, worry and hope. My love, worry and hope go out to Tamiko, her husband, and the Murata family and to the Japanese people, several of whom opened my eyes to the wonders of cultures other than my own. Jean McGavin
Bethlehem, CT I am happy to report that I have had wonderful news about my friend Tamiko. She and all of her family are safe. I spoke her cousin who gave me her sister's phone number. I spoke with her sister and received the great news. I was then able to get in touch with Tamiko by email. Tamiko is shaken and still worried about the near future for Japan.

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  Fukushima, Japan
Mar 11 2011


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