I don't know where to begin when writing about the Golden Week volunteer trip to Rikuzentakata. The experience was tremendously life changing in some ways. But then, I suppose every moment has the potential to be life changing. Perhaps that's the theme around Rikuzentakata. It is...or was...a small sea side town located in southern Iwate, just over the Miyagi-ken border. And just like many small sea side towns in Tohoku, the lives of everyone living in this city were altered forever on March 11th, 2011.
Since I didn't live in this region and didn't experience the tragedy first hand, I will always be an observer. I do remember that day very vividly though. I was just on my way to the Kohamajima port to take my return ferry back to Ishigakijima when the earthquake occurred, and while I was waiting for my boat, the tsunami had started to upend and catastrophically destroy everything in its path. I think about that point in time, whenever I think about Tohoku. For it's those moments that one can freeze in the mind's eye, realizing that 2 years later, those moments in time were the last for many people. Those moments that were taken for granted by everyone else not experiencing the tsunami firsthand.
I think about how some of the people in Rikuzentakata, Minamisanriku, Kesennuma, or Ishinomaki (or any of the other towns and cities affected) didn't realize that those were their last moments. After that, time was only available to those who survived and would have to carry on with only the memories of the ones they loved and lost.
In the end, the two emotions that are the strongest are fear and love.
Everything else is secondary to these two primal emotions. I hope those who were lost that day were able to feel that they were loved during their lives. I didn't know any of these people, but during my trip, it was this sentiment that I felt so strongly in Rikuzentakata.
I don't know what happens after we physically cease to be on this earth, but I do believe that our feelings - these strong emotions - remain and continue to resonate long after death.
I need some time to think about what I saw during this volunteer trip.
When I can, I will write about the entirety of it and post photos of both Rikuzentakata and Kesennuma.