Tsunami anniversary reminder to live large

Monday I ran five miles as part of my half marathon training plan. It was a nothing special day, and my mind whirled with nothing special thoughts as the miles ticked away.

Later, as I shuffled through previous columns for inspiration for this week’s submission, I discovered Monday was anything but ordinary. It was the second anniversary of the Japan tsunami.

I wrote a column about it on March 17, 2011, recalling where I was on the big-news events of my life.

I huddled under a mattress in a tiny apartment while tornadoes ripped Grand Island to shreds on June 3, 1980.

I was pregnant with my firstborn and taking inventory at a fabric store on Jan. 28, 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger fell from the sky.

I was prepping for my first Cottonwood Festival committee meeting when a plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

And at 6 a.m. on March 11, 2011, I stood like a disheveled mess in my kitchen, watching the earth swallow Japan.

It’s funny what you remember, isn’t it?

News reports reeled like a bad dream, when over 19,000 people were killed along 155 miles of Japan’s east coast — the same distance that separates Hastings and Omaha. Two years later its anniversary didn’t warrant a blip on my radar screen.

It’s funny what you forget, too.

Earth-shaking events remind me what a difference a day can make — the day before a catastrophic event. June 2, 1980, Jan. 27, 1986, Sept. 10, 2001, and March 10, 2011, were the last normal days of life for thousands of people. Many of them probably had things on their tomorrow lists. Tomorrow I’ll call the folks. Tomorrow I’ll take the kids fishing. Tomorrow I’ll start getting my act together.

But tomorrow never came.

A lot has happened in my family since that dreadful day in Japan. My firstborn, Rocket, finished his master’s degree, met and proposed to the love of his life, and moved to Oklahoma to start his career.

My youngest son, Magnet, worked with Husker sports teams as an athletic training student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, traveling to the men’s gymnastics nationals in Oklahoma, NCAA Division I volleyball championship in Washington, and the Capital One Bowl in Florida. He was accepted into the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s doctor of physical therapy program, which he’ll enter this fall.

Hunka Burnin’ Hubby and I started running, completing our first half and full marathons. We snowmobiled, ice climbed, and dog sledded. We learned we’ll be hosting Rocket’s wedding in our backyard this summer.

I’m sure many milestones have occurred in your life, too.

There will always be tsunamis, tornadoes and disasters of every kind. They’ll have anniversaries, which can fade into the flotsam of everyday life. But their lessons ring true forever.

We must never forget our fragile hold upon the days we often take for granted. Live large, my friends, and in the moment. Take care of the stuff on the tomorrow list, today.

Tamera Schlueter

Tam Schlueter adopts a "strike-fast-and-keep-them-laughing" approach to writing. Her column appears every Thursday in the Hastings Tribune, and showcases the wonder of family, dogs, muscle cars, and folks with blue collars and no-nonsense attitudes.

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