Horseradish: Bitter Truths you can’t Avoid
By Lemony Snicket
Given the light of the recent global events, the book I had originally chosen to be a quick read through midterm week turned out to be more depressing than funny. So this review will be bent towards my state of mind while I was reading it and perhaps, not the best of reviews of the book itself. However, I loved the book. Perhaps you will too by the end of this post.
“The moral of this story, if you are interested, is that there are bitter truths you cannot avoid in this world.”
I am very inclined to agree with the author. Indeed, this whole week my husband and I have been monitoring the disasters in Japan; grappling with the idea that there is a nuclear plant at the edge of meltdown, watching people separated from loved ones, people searching through wreckage for bodies and memories, hearing about freezing temperatures and blackouts and being overwhelmed by just how cruel it all is.
And the death.
The needless, tragic deaths of people who were, for all intents and purposes, as prepared as they could be for such an event…and who died anyways. Grandparents, children, parents, the stories of people being swept away telling the utter helplessness against a massive tidal wave.
"What happens in a certain place can stain your feelings for that location, just as ink can stain a white sheet. You can wash it, and wash it, and still never forget what has transpired - a word which here means 'happened, and made everybody sad'."
The humanity in death.
The grandmother found dead in her home clutching her three year old grandson, the mother who rushed her small children to safety before being swept away herself, the elderly husband who disappeared into the chaos to find his wife….it’s too much for the mind to take. It’s shocking, it’s terrible, we rail against the idea that so many who should have lived a bit longer were taken so quickly, so cruelly.
"It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things."
And the humanity in life.
The stories of the daycare reopening so children could have a sense of normality again. The ‘Fukushima 50’ who are on a suicide mission to save their people from nuclear devastation, the people opening their homes and lives to complete strangers, sheltering them from the elements and sharing meager supplies. The village who, not waiting for rescue, began rescuing themselves; setting up water, food, shelter….community.
"It is so rare in this world to meet a trustworthy person who truly wants to help you, and finding such a person can make you feel warm and safe, even if you are in the middle of a windy valley high up in the mountains."
As Greg and I talked back and forth, back and forth trying to determine the best way to help and if it would do any good and what organization had the most impact…we came to the realization that our best efforts will not rebuild Japan. It will not bring back loved ones or houses or jobs or food or cool the nuclear plants. It will help buy blankets. Some may say that is a lot. I say it is nothing really, compared with what is unfolding. And so we sat back and realized that we will help….and it will not fix things.
"It is difficult, when faced with a situation you cannot control, to admit you can do nothing."
Our conversation shifted. It shifted to what WE would do. What we’d need to take with us if we had to evacuate, if a tornado took out our house, if water was shut off, if some event happened, were we prepared?
“It is very easy to say that the important thing is to try your best, but if you are in real trouble the most important thing is not trying your best, but getting to safety.”
We decided that we weren’t really as prepared as we could be. So we’re focusing on that. Should some natural disaster affect our lives, we’re a little more prepared, perhaps even a help to people in our community. We’re being CPR certified and will be part of a Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT) soon. It’s not a lot, but it will fix things should they go wrong here…in a part of the world where we can directly assist.
There aren’t words to define how terrible this disaster, among so many the past few years, is. There simply isn't a good way to communicate that dull ache that lives in your chest when shown that amount of human suffering. People just like you and me. The fact we live in a world connected by all sorts of communication methods means that, on some level, this affects everyone. Our hearts and hope are with the people of Japan as they start to move forward into a future which is vastly different from the past of a week ago. I can only hope that the following eventually rings true:
"At times the world may seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe that there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough. and what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may in fact be the first steps of a journey.”
If you are interested in any preparedness measures for your family, please visit the following excellent links:
- Home Survival Kit
- Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Emergency Preparedness and Response
- American Red Cross: Disaster Services
- FEMA: Are You Ready?
- Constructing a Home Preparedness Kit
INFORMATION FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES