One year. I am amazed at the amount of life-changing events that can occur in one single year. One year ago today, I had no idea what was coming my way. I was packing up my apartment, working on graduation songs with my kids, preparing to end the school year, preparing to move back to America. I wish now that I would have blogged about the past year, but as it was happening, I just never made the time to do it.
It blows my mind that it’s been a year since the earthquake/tsunami. It seems like so long ago, and yet at the same time, it feels like just yesterday. March 11, 2011 will forever be a day remembered in my life. Many lives were lost, homes and businesses destroyed, children left without parents, parents left without children, people forced to leave their homes due to radiation. I’ve watched some of the recent documentaries and such that have been put together, and it just makes my heart sink every time. That day was a normal day, and then it wasn’t.
After everything that happened with the earthquake and tsunami, instead of heading to India and Indonesia like we had planned, we headed back to America. We spent a few weeks being home, seeing friends and family, and then we headed back to Japan to teach for a trimester. I feel so blessed that I was able to go back during this time. It was great to see all of my kids and families safe. Hearing they were okay was one thing, but being able to actually see and hug them was incredible. I also took on a new grade level. This was such a blessing in disguise for me, as before this I was feeling discouraged about being a teacher. However, teaching those 4 year olds reminded me how much I loved watching kids learn. Because of those kids, I left Japan feeling encouraged.
While there for those extra few months, I was able to travel to Hong Kong and Macau. The trip was a lot of fun, and Joey and I did the world’s tallest bungee jump in Macau. At the end of my time in Japan, Sarah and I traveled for a week to India. We had an incredible time, and I was glad to get my fill of curry for a while! After our fun-filled week in India, we headed back to the good ole USA.
Moving home was bittersweet. I had grown to love Japan and the people there. I loved all of my kids and it was torturous to have to say good-bye to all of them. But, I had missed my family and friends so much. My sister and brother had both had baby boys in the few months before I returned, so it was nice to be able to hold them while they were still little. About a month after I returned home, Joey came home as well. It was nice to be in the same country again, but it was an adjustment living three hours apart. But, we made the best of it, driving to see each other every other weekend.
I started graduate school in August. I learn really quickly how little I had applied myself in my undergrad, and how much more I would have to apply myself now. The amount of reading that I had to do was overwhelming, and unlike in undergrad, you actually have to do the reading! I am proud to say that I successfully completed my first semester of grad school with all A’s and B’s. Phew.
January was a tough month. Many things happened, and they all seemed to happen all at once. On January 25, I got the news that my good friend’s baby boy had passed away. He was born in December, but didn’t breath or have a heartbeat for 17 minutes after birth. My friend was able to take him home and love on him before he passed. My heart ached for my friend and her family.
On that same night, January 25, I found out that someone else that I cared about had been killed that day. 1LT David Andrew Johnson had been killed in action in Afghanistan by an IED while leading his men on foot patrol. David was someone that I had once loved. We had maintained a friendship, and I still cared for him. I had actually not talked to him since right before he was deployed in December, but I was blessed to get the chance to chat with him for a few minutes the night before he was killed. He was excited about his mission, and he wasn’t afraid. He didn’t want me to worry, just wanted me to pray. I’ve never known anyone who loved the military as much as he did.
Sarah met me in Chicago, and together we went up to Wisconsin for David’s funeral. This experience was one of the hardest things that I have had to do so far in my life. The honor and respect that was paid to David was incredible to see. Saying good-bye to him was so tough.
It was so great to see his family again though, as I had once loved them like my own. David was a good man, and I learned a lot through my time with him. He will forever have a place in my heart, and he will forever be my hero.
After David’s funeral, I flew down to Louisiana to be with my friend who had lost her son. It was great to see her, as it had been years since the last time. I wanted to be there for her as much as I could, but it was hard to know what to say or do. I know that in times like that, there are no words to take the pain away. I’m just glad that I was able to just be there. And, in all honesty, she was there for me as well. I have missed her, and I will be sure now to not let so much time pass in our friendship from now on.
On my way back from Louisiana, I found out that my nephew was in the hospital. So I went directly to the hospital instead of home. It was a scary situation for a while, and still isn’t completely resolved, but at least my sister is starting to get some answers. Thankfully it’s not life threatening, but still will not be an easy road for any of them.
There have been many other things that have happened in the past year, but these were just some of the major ones. I am hoping that from here on out, only good things will happen. I know that life doesn’t always go your way, and it’s not always easy, but I think I need the next year to go a little easier on me and on those that I love.