For a third day, residents of northern Japan are dealing with the aftermath of a deadly earthquake/tsunami. People across the devastated area are without water, electricity and proper food. As the country grappled with the enormity of the disaster, the reality is setting in that there may be more than 10,000 people dead in one area alone.
Japan’s prime minister has called the crisis, “the most severe challenge the nation has faced since World War II”, as the grim situation worsened. Friday’s disasters damaged two nuclear reactors, potentially sending one through a partial meltdown and adding radiation contamination to the fears of an unsettled public.
Temperatures began sinking toward freezing, compounding the misery of survivors along hundreds of miles of the northeastern coast battered by the tsunami that smashed inland with breathtaking fury.
Rescuers pulled bodies from mud-covered jumbles of wrecked houses, shattered tree trunks, twisted cars and tangled power lines, while survivors examined the ruined remains.
Throughout this disaster, I’m reminded of a time many years ago when my live was almost altered.
In 1989, my brother was getting ready to leave for Navy boot camp. So, we decided to celebrate his last few days of freedom by going to a dance club in Fremont, California. It was there that I met Tomoko, an exchange student from Kanagawa prefecture, just west of Tokyo.
She was a very short girl, about 4′, 10″. Long, curly hair. Very slender, wearing a skin-tight mini-skirt with long stiletto heels. Even though we both didn’t speak each other’s language very well, we both made the best to learn about each other. We danced all night and enjoyed the nightlife. Just before we left and exchanged phone numbers and promised to keep in touch.
For six months, we shared some of the most incredible moments together.
She would spend her weekends with me, treating me like I was royalty by cooking me dinner every night. We would snuggle up on my couch and watch Japanese television. I gave her lessons on English, and she gave me lessons on Japanese to help bridge the communication gap. He helped me pick out a car I needed, a 1990 Geo Storm. I took her on trips to Hollywood, Disneyland, San Diego.
Our relationship blossomed, much to the point that I thought we would take the next step to marriage. In fact, just before she left for her trip back to Japan, I proposed to her, offering a ring and promising I would travel there to visit for a few weeks.
But it never came to pass.
After corresponding with her for a year, she decided to go a different direction and broke up the relationship. I was devastated. For months, I would try to re-kindle the relationship, even making an attempt to travel to the country. But I realized a long-distance relationship wouldn’t be possible.
Twenty years later, I still think about her. There are times when I would Google her name and try to find out if she still exists. The unfortunate events in Japan just helps re-kindle my interests on whether she’s alive or not. I can only hope that if she is still alive, that she and her family are safe.
My prayers go to her and the people of Japan.