Knowing that I was in Kauai last week, many of you have asked, “Was I there the morning of the missile alert?” Answer: Yes.
When asked further about our reaction that morning, responses to my answer were mixed with “Wow, how did you do that?” Our response that morning was to join the others in the lower ballroom for news, but then we quickly stepped out to have our coffee with breakfast. (Notice the priority was on the coffee.) We weren’t sure what news we’d soon be hearing so with thoughts of Mad Max movies rushing through my head, I wanted to be fueled up for what would happen next in surviving afterwards. That was my only thought – surviving. It wasn’t a fear of death or even the thought of death that crossed my mind.
The bizarre moment came when I realized that instead of looking straight out at the beautiful view in front of me, I was looking up at the sky. As I realized that I was looking/waiting? for the missile, I looked around to see what others were doing. Same thing – all looking up toward the sky. At that moment, I thought, well if it is a last breakfast, it’s a beautiful day and gorgeous view.
Of course our thoughts focused on our daughter, Cara, and wanting to call her. It wasn’t a question of what we would say, but the thought of having that time to hear her voice was the only thing on our minds. At the same time, Terry and I both thought about the passengers on those fated 9/11 flights and how they called loved ones, too.
Weird though – it was the ONLY time that we had stepped out of our room in a week without either one of our phones. We had INTENTIONALLY left them behind to enjoy our last breakfast (glad it wasn’t the last one ever!) on the island without interruption (ha!) before departing for home. When we realized that we needed to reach Cara and that meant heading back up to the room for the phone with only minutes left (sounds really scary to read that NOW), Terry was torn between heading to the room or staying with me downstairs. (I don’t know whose idea it was for HIM to go get the phone!) His answer was classic, “Guess I might as well finish my coffee.” We were still at the table with our coffee when the hotel manager came around to advise us that it was a ‘false alert.’ My first thought that I really said out loud to Terry was, “Well, someone lost their job today.” My second thought was “How could this be a false alert?”
The experience gives way to reflection at the time that still rings true today: When something is so out of your control, the only thing that you can control is your reaction to it.