The disastrous earthquake in Haiti yesterday brought back some memories. What we experienced isn't even worth writing about, compared to their agony.
We lived in Santa Cruz in '89. Craig worked in Davenport, on the coast off Hwy 1. It was about a 45 minute drive from our little cabin in the woods and his work.
When the quake hit, it rolled the house like a roller coast ride. As I went to pick up my baby, the floor came up to bop me on the head. I crawled and clawed my way to her. We needed to get outside. She smiled in delight, thinking we were having fun rocking.
It sounded like a roaring freight train coming, and the house looked a little like one had plowed through it. I had just turned our gas oven on to preheat it for a pan of ribs for supper. Once Tess was outside and the tremors had stopped, I knew a fire could start from the gas, so ran back inside to a kitchen floor deeply covered in BBQ sauce, food and broken dishes. Everything was out of the cupboards on the floor. I made it barefoot to turn the dial off without a cut.
The aftershocks were terrifyingly dreadful, not knowing if they would get bigger or not. My worst fear was that a chasm would open up and swallow us, closing up again without any one knowing. It was real fear.
The epicenter was exactly between us and Craig. He was working in a quarry, driving one of those mythically huge trucks with tires as big as a house. He was climbing up into the driver's seat, when the mountains and trees around him started dancing wildly and his truck started bucking. Panicked, he thought he had forgotten to put the brake on, as the full truck was moving.
We lived in the valley off the Hwy 17 summit - called Glynwood. It was the only way to get from San Jose to Santa Cruz besides the cutoff which led down to Old Glynwood Drive. The mountain had come down on the highway above us.
I packed some jars of water, a loaf of bread, some diapers in the car, in case a forest fire started and we had to leave. Cell phones weren't common, the telephone lines were down, so we waited. And waited. If I could, I would stay as long as possible; Craig and I had a pact, he would come for me, he would find me if I stayed still. Staying still was hard! Since I didn't know what conditions would meet me down the road, it kept me quiet and able to stay put.
If Craig was dead, wouldn't I know it in my soul? It took him about 5 hours to get home. The police wouldn't let him pass the roadblock to get to home, at first. Somehow, he looked so desperate and determined, they let him go through. He was one of a few, since the mountain had come down on the other side of the cut-off, in his favor; they told him to try. It was fortunate he took the highway, as the old road was severed and had fallen down the ravine.
It was the longest time of waiting, worrying and wondering. Torture.
When he finally drove up the long driveway, I ran to meet him. There were no words. We melted into each other and got stuck for a long time while tears of thankfulness drenched us. Touching and holding, crying and laughing; I kept patting him and sniffing his scent to make sure he was real.
There is nothing as sweet as knowing for sure that the ones you love are safe and home again.
There are thousands of people in Haiti today who don't know that experience and never will. For this, my spirit groans.