I had a Sunday deadline for a wedding I was working on and I wanted to finish it Saturday morning. Working from home on a Saturday with all kids present equals zero productivity so I wake up early and head to a coffee shop with my laptop while JD and the kids slept. I wanted to finish so I could spend the day with family.
By 8 am I was coming to a stopping point but wanted to get just a little further. At 8:06 I sent a video message to my dear friend and second shooter showing her some of the photos. At 8:07, with clear blue skies and sun pouring into glass windows, the coffee shop fills with sounds of emergency alerts on our phones. This isn’t actually *all* that unusual in Hawaii as it’s usually used for flash flood warnings. I roll my eyes at the thought of a flash flood and look down at my screen. I have to read the words twice before registering what I see.
BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
What in the actual world.
Everyone around me looks as confused and stunned as I feel and several things run through my mind in that moment. 1. Is this real? Where are the outdoor sirens we’ve just become familiar with? They must not be working. 2. It says NOT A DRILL (at this moment I read the text out loud to a coffee shop of strangers just to make sure I wasn’t the only one who received this message. A woman slips quietly out the door. Another woman starts sobbing). 3. I have 12-15 minutes before this thing strikes. I might make it home. I’m going to go for it.
I unplug my computer, grab my coffee and wallet, and walk/run out the door. I put my keys into the ignition, reverse out of my parking spot and call my husband.
“Did you get the message?”
“I’m coming home.”
“Yes come home.”
“I can’t believe this is happening. Get the kids in the hallway.”
“I know. I will. Just come home.”
Next I call both my parents. No answer, and I decide not to leave a message because at this point I might lose it and I don’t want the last sound of my voice to be hysteria.
Text comes from a friend, “GO TO YOUR CLOSETS. Get cover.” Their base sirens are going off. Emphasis on NOT A DRILL.
Shit. This suddenly feels very real and I look out the window to see if there’s a cloud. Call JD again, just to hear his voice and make sure the kids are in the hallway.
“I love you baby.”
“I love you too. Just come on home.”
“I can’t believe this is happening,” I keep saying.
“Just come home. We’ll see you soon.”
Half the cars know what is going on and half the cars are driving with aloha. We hit several red lights and eventually people start honking, because when a ballistic missile is headed your way and there is absolutely no cross traffic, it’s fine to run that red light. Light turns green and my foot hits heavy and hard on the gas. Still no mushroom cloud.
God please just get me home. Please stop that missile from hitting us. Protect us. Please get me home. On repeat. In the name of Jesus.
Texts from friends telling us how much time we have left and I pull into my driveway, sloppily park the car, and run in to see my babies crouched together in our hallway that encloses itself. Wes toddles around all smiles while his favorite people sit at eye level and provide human jungle gyms. What grace. I start to cry a little but without tears so it feels very strange. I am just thankful to see everyone. JD has three mattresses surrounding us in our hallway and I think briefly about supplies but figure there’s no time until impact and I need to hold my babies. Quick texts to our families:
Ballistic missiles coming our way.
We love you so much.
And we tell the girls. We did. We’ve had discussions with them before as their school has talked about the new sirens that have started recently and JD had already told them it wasn’t a drill. And I guess all I wanted them to know in that moment was that God is in control, He loves us, and we might get to be with Jesus today and at least we are together.
“Why are they doing this mama? We didn’t do anything to them?”
No baby but there is evil in this world.
“But why do they want to bomb us?”
Even still, God is in control.
And I believe it wholeheartedly. Blessed assurance that my inheritance is with Him. That peace without understanding is real even as my heart races and shoulders tense. Thankful that we are together and that we will be together. Trusting God with all of it and still praying mightily and loudly for God’s protection.
“It looks like it might be a mistake?”
“Looks like it was just a drill.”
The texts come pouring in and we are on our phones. JD searching twitter, me updating families, getting information from military friends. Hopeful that we are in the clear and all is well. Wondering what on earth happened. Waiting for official clearance because it’s all so bizarre. Neither of us expected a false alarm.
My shoulders start to shake and I hug our kids and tell them we’re ok. There’s no missile.
A friend who knows things tells me, “There was never a missile. You were always safe.”
“Mama tell us what happened… Ok tell us the story again… Again.”
Yes baby, we can talk about this all you want.
The reality of this news is overwhelmingly good. Life is good and so beautiful and we live to see another day. Someone pressed the wrong button. Human error. A mistake. Never a missile.
Time for the good wine and good food and endless snuggles and sunshine and sand and friends.
Praise Him from Whom all blessings flow. And may this never be repeated.
Even as I say this I know there are people for whom this is daily reality. Jesus Come.