Conversations at the kitchen table…. remembering 3/11

She sat across from us and pointed to the empty chair.

“He’s a boy and he’s only six years old, so he doesn’t talk much about his feelings.  But a few weeks ago, out of the blue, he said, ‘So, I don’t have a mother, do I?’  Of course he knew that his mom had died three years ago, but it was like it suddenly hit him in a new way.”

His grandmother continued.  “I told him that he does have a father and a grandmother and that we are a family and we are going to work hard to stick together.”

Her voice broke.  “He said, ‘I don’t want to work hard for that if I don’t have my mom.’  I couldn’t take it.  I couldn’t say anything.  I had to leave the room.”


“My [grown] son and I ran upstairs when we heard the water coming.  This house was built well so we knew we could be safe.  But my daughter was working at a store near the water, and our grandson was at the school near the water. My husband was traveling on a business trip.  I didn’t know if any of them were still alive… When they didn’t come home I figured they had died.  There was no radio, no cell phones, no lights.  Just darkness.  We waited together and it felt like forever.

“Around 6 am I heard a crashing sound and it sounded like my grandson’s voice calling out frantically.  But it was my daughter — their voices sound the same.  She had waded through all the debris surrounding our home to come and see if we were still alive.  There were no words;  only many tears that morning.”


“We went to visit her [this afternoon] – it has been awhile.  We rang the doorbell a few times.  Then I walked around to the back of the house and noticed that her heater was on.  I knew that she must still be there.  When I walked back to the front of the house, I saw her riding her bicycle away fast.  She has ups and downs.  On the down times she still just doesn’t want to meet anyone.  It’s too hard…”


“Tomorrow I want to just work.  I don’t want to remember.  It is too hard to remember.”


“The morning after the tsunami I started walking all over the area in search of the 100-something of my store employees.  We had no idea where they might be seeking refuge but it was my job to report to the central office that everyone has been found (or not).  It didn’t matter how dangerous it was or that my family didn’t have much food.  I had to do my job.  I took my second grade son with me and we started wading through all the debris to visit all the schools and temples in the nearby areas serving as evacuation centers.  I couldn’t stop until I had somehow accounted for everyone on the list.”


“We didn’t know what to do when the siren started.  We left the home on foot and started running towards the school, but it was in the direction of the water.  When we saw the dark force moving towards us, we knew we had to run in the opposite direction.  I kept tugging on my daughter’s arm to run faster.  My husband finally put our 3rd grade [autistic] son on his back and even though he was so heavy he didn’t stop running.  We heard the noise and finally ran into the stairwell of a small apartment building.  We pulled our children up the stairs and there was a family in the top apartment.  They let us stay with them until the morning light came.  We didn’t know what we would find when we went back down those steps…”


“I don’t know what we are going to do when all the children return to their [fixed up] elementary school this next month.  My fifth grade daughter is so traumatized by what she saw at that school three years ago.  I’ve already told her that she doesn’t have to do the PE swimming lessons in that pool.  She saw those bodies floating in there and I know she will never be able to forget….”


“On the one hand, I almost cannot bear to relive the memories of 3/11 three years ago.  But on the other hand, if it hadn’t been for the tsunami I never would have had friends like you.  Some days I don’t know how to deal with such extreme emotions….”


Please pray right now for our friends in Ishinomaki.  For so many, life is still so very hard.  But we do believe in a Living Hope; in a Healer; in a Savior for this broken world.

reiko's photo


4 thoughts on “Conversations at the kitchen table…. remembering 3/11

  1. very touching, Sue. grieve with those who grieve. sometimes we lose the art of commiseration. have they — government, ministries — taken steps for post-traumatic stress disorder counselors to be available to the people? or is that something the Japanese would even consider doing for it being a “sign of weakness”?
    I was wondering, too what the notecard posted at the bottom says. I can make out a little of it, but . . . Thank you, keep up the great work and take care of yourselves as you go.

    • We haven’t forgotten all of those who perished and those who survived 3/11. Our God can heal and remind the hurting of His great love. Thank you for keeping their stories alive and in our prayers. Cyndy L.

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