“EMERGENCY ALERT: BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.“
Exactly a year ago I was spending the month of January in Hawaii for work. Since Derek was in his first year of law school, he couldn’t join me for the trip. I spent every morning before I had to head to work waking up before the sun rose, going to the beach and sitting in the water thinking about how incredibly beautiful the world is, trying to soak in my seemingly perfect situation. Once the sun rose I would lay out, my toes digging in the sand and letting the rising sun slowly tan my pale Utah winter skin. I was in heaven. Life seemed perfect. Never mind I had family drama back home in Arizona that I was ignoring and too stubborn to acknowledge. The quiet waves and deserted beach drowned everything else out.
As a few weeks passed, I had a short break between work events. My team that I travel with and I decided to island hop during our break and head to Kauai on Saturday, the 13th, an island we didn’t get much time on. Derek decided to surprise me and fly to Hawaii for a few days so we opted to stay in Maui while everyone else flew to Kauai without us. He flew in late Friday night and had 48 hours of free time before he had to fly back to Utah for school.
Since we had a list of things we wanted to do while he was there, we decided to go to bed early Friday night to get an early start.
I had just woke up and was brushing my teeth in the bathroom. I was mindlessly scrolling through instagram when an alert popped up on my phone.
My heart sank.
It didn’t seem real.
I ran to the bed and woke Derek up frantically telling him there’s a missile heading to Hawaii, get dressed. I ran back to the bathroom to try to find my glasses and I started getting dressed.
Derek jumped out of bed and quickly turned the TV on. We sat there searching every news channel we could find to see if this was true. CNN, FOX, NBC… nothing. No local channels were reporting it. It had to be false, right? We sat there staring at each other. Derek finally broke our silence, “There’s no way we will get off this island. If this is true, they most likely will target Oahu.”
“But what about the fallout that will come from them hitting Oahu?” I asked.
“There’s nothing we can do except wait.”
Meanwhile, outside our hotel room we could hear people running, screaming, crying. Yelling at their kids to hurry, yelling at each other to get out of the way. Outside of our hotel window I saw parents pulling their kids out of the pool and running. I saw a family embracing each other, praying on the lawn next to the pool with the parents circling their children out of protection.
Now this isn’t my proudest moment but if you have every doubted our love for our dogs, this proves our level of “crazy dog parents”. I picked up my phone and texted Derek’s best friend, Jake.
“Jake, there’s a missile coming for Hawaii. We are both here. You can have everything we own if you promise to take care of Hank and Lucy.”
I then texted my parents, who I haven’t spoken to in close to a year. We had a falling out and weren’t talking. They didn’t know we were in Hawaii. But I didn’t want our last conversation to be the fight we had over something so stupid, so insignificant in the moment. I didn’t want them to have any regrets if that was our last conversation and I especialy didn’t want those same regrets.
I crawled into bed with Derek. We sat there, backs against the headboard, in our pajamas, listening to people scrambling outside, watching for any inclination this wasn’t real on the news and waiting to die.
The Second Alert…
45 minutes. FORTY FIVE MINUTES later, we got a second alert. The missile alert turned out to be a false alarm. A sigh of relief came over both of us. It felt like we had been holding our breathe for forty five minutes waiting for something to happen.
There are a lot of “explanations” that started coming through though my favorite one is that the Governor of Hawaii forgot his Twitter password so they couldn’t login to let people know it wasn’t real.
Since the fake alert, I have chosen to make amends with my family. I’ve let go of all the silly, insignificant arguments and disagreements we have had in the past. I cut other people out of my life that weren’t adding positivity. Derek and I have been more patient with each other, more loving. We go on more adventures, more trips and try to experience new things.
We spent the rest of January 13th driving the road to Hana. Jumping off waterfalls and buying fresh fruit from locals along the road. That alert sparked a new outlook on life for both of us. In a way, I’m thankful we were in that situation.
My challenge to you…
It’s a new year, a time for resolutions. I am challenging you this year if you have any unresolved tension with family members and loved ones, let it go or talk it out. Turn the other cheek if you need to. Think about who you would call or text in that situation and if you are not on speaking terms then do whatever you can to fix that.
I completely understand there are some situations and circumstances that warrant cutting people out of your life. But if it’s something you can let go of, something you can fix, do it now. Love harder, laugh more. Let go of all the small annoyances. Be more patient, help others more. Find something that brings you joy. Life is so short and we never know when it could end.
XO, Tia Brown