As almost all of you may know by now, on Saturday, January 13th many Hawaii residents including myself, received an emergency alert to our phones stating: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL”. This is not a drill. My Saturday morning was starting off just like every other Saturday. I was just waking up scrolling through social media when everything seemed to change in an instant. I was not going to touch on this topic but I have seen too many jokes, memes, questions, and the like so it is important for those not in Hawaii to see what really happened on Saturday and why it is not a something to make a joke out of.
I immediately showed Jesse who did not receive the alert and we both shot out of bed. Was this really happening? What do we do? Where do we go? All of these thoughts consuming my head all at once was overwhelming on top of my apparent impending death. I had no idea what to do. Jesse watched the skies and I called our friends who are also our neighbors to check in, see if they got the alert, and what their plan was. I was trying not to panic but Hawaii has been actively preparing for an emergency like this so I knew I had less than 15 minutes. 15 minutes to figure out how the last moments of my life might play out. Do I run and pray I make it somewhere safe before the missile hits? No, I would be stuck in traffic for sure. Amidst all of this chaos, Jesse stood by, watching the skies and waiting for word from his leadership on what to do next. He was sure this was some kind of mistake or false alarm, I was not so sure. The panic had finally set in and I did the only thing I knew would soothe me in this moment: I called my mom and I cried. I could not even believe that I had not even made it to twenty years old and here I was about to be blown up. I was terrified and felt like this could not be the end, how could my life be over when it was seemingly just beginning to get to “the good part”? I froze at this point and just talked to my mom, somewhat accepting this may be the last time we spoke. Sure they say 80-90 percent would likely survive. Likely. Huh, great odds there I suppose but what about that other 10-20 percent? I and my bad luck were not satisfied with those odds.
During this conversation with my momma as I was trying hard not to make it goodbye, Jesse received word that someone had majorly messed up and it was a false alarm. A sigh of relief fell over me and I felt the tightness in my chest release, I could breathe again. Now I know this sounds like an ordeal that lasted all day but this was 38 minutes that felt like a lifetime. I spent 38 minutes thinking this was the last time I would ever speak to my mom and see my husband. 38 minutes panicked about all of the people I didn’t or couldn’t call. 38 minutes expecting to die. You can’t imagine the frustration I feel about going through that unless you lived it.
I expected Saturday to be the end of that horrific ordeal but it wasn’t. Even writing this post to reflect on the day I can feel my breathing become heavy and my chest becomes tight. I find myself looking at the sky more often. This is true for a lot of people who lived through Saturday’s mess and while I can see how some may be finding light in the situation or think it is funny to make memes and jokes: you did not have to face the fact that your death was 15 minutes away. For 38 minutes you did not expect to die. I understand some of the people making these jokes may have experienced Saturday morning but for me, this was no joke. Be compassionate, be understanding, but above all else, just be a decent fucking person. That’s all I have for today, everyone. Hug your spouse, call your family, smile at a stranger. Be alive and live every day.