東日本大震災。Higashi Nihon Daishinsai.
The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.
I write those words often when I translate, in either language. Iwate Prefecture still sends out letters, produces reconstruction chronicles, thanks the world for its support during such a tragedy. Every time, it’s like a mantra: Higashi Nihon Daishinsai. Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Tohoku Disaster. Iwate’s Reconstruction. 未曾有な大震災から半年、1年、2年。これからの復興。
I write these terrible words, and I don’t think about the meaning behind those letters, behind those strokes. They’re just words to me, to all of us, if we don’t think about what they really mean.
How else could I live?
Just like September 11th, the Twin Towers, the terrorist attacks. I said those words, I heard those words so many times that I got used to them. I got used to them, and then I could distance myself from them. The words lost their power as I decoupled their sounds from the memories. I didn’t forget. But I could compartmentalize it away so that I could move on.
It’s so selfish. But time keeps flowing onwards, and you either let yourself flow with it, or you get stuck and drown.
Then something reminds me. Because I didn’t forget. I could never forget. And as that horrible day and that horrible month and that horrible year come back to me, the tears well up.
All I can do is sit there, and remember, until it passes. And vow to do more…but there’s nothing more to be done.
Two years feels like so much time, and yet, the memories remain etched in stone.