I have to start with the animals; always showing me the way.
The day before the tsunami I was walking along the beach; as I did every morning. Stray dogs are everywhere; they used to be my friends until this day; one came barking violently towards me; I was very close to get bitten. This scared me from walking the next day; thank god for that; it was about the same time I could have been at the beach as I always did this after breakfast.
So; now we were in 4 th floor at our hotel; my son wanted to see the wave, so I showed him around. He was sad thinking about all the cats and dogs that he thought had died; but luckily we could see a kitten cling to a sunbed together with a big toad. For him it was comforting to see that one cat had survived; and I was wise enough to not say that it looked more dead than alive. The dead people were covered with sheets; as soon as the water level went down; so the children never saw them.
Later we learned that very few animals died; most of them had fled the beach area long before the wave; especially the wild ones.
After a couple of hours the hotel management wanted to evacuate us to a nearby jungle hillside. I was in a terrible state; no way I would ever again walk on a beach or even close to one;
but my ex managed to talk me into going down; as we couldnt stay there for long anyway. Rumors about a mega wave made me move; as the hotel could be taken down by it.
So we walked; me carrying my 5 year old as he had no shoes, together with neat Japanese women in their high heel shoes and their neatly packed suitcases.
People in their underwear,
Germans with red noses and big bellies looking like they was going to a Toga party; as they had no clothes and just wrapped a hotel sheet around them;
Families in different shapes and conditions
No children crying for ice cream; everyone was silent.
200 people walking in a single file towards the jungle; with just one thing in common; the startled look on their faces; frightened to their core.
Close to the hillside is a big entertainment show; they have tigers and elephants performing at the show. The tigers were roaming; very frightening, the type of sound that goes straight to your bones. First I thought it was elephants trumpeting, but they had fled to the jungle long time ago. The tigers were in cages and had no chance to do that. But they did alarm any creature in miles circumference; you dont have to be a animal to know such language. They SO knew what was going on.
We settled at the hillside, just waiting things off.
The Thai`s were exceptional at this moment; they had to be worried sick about their friends and family; but what they did was to take care of us tourists! They came up the hillside with water, fruit; and IODINE; to tend our wounds with. I never realized why our wounds never got infected; until I learned about iodine at this forums. This was a big problem after the tsunami; as the water was not very clean and many were cut from broken glass and debris.
My ex wanted to go down to see if he could at least find our passports at our apartment; I was not at that page at all; no way I would leave the kids even for a second; and I didnt care about money or passports or clothes or whatever. I had everything one could ever dream of; namely our life in behold.
I think God had a plan when he made the two sexes; my ex`s rational mind calculated the risk close to zero; while I was to emotional to calculate at this point.
We agreed for him going down to the hotel and me staying with the kids.
After an hour he came back with my camera bag; this is an expensive Tamrac bag; cost me a fortune, but it is waterproof; and in there was our tickets, passport, visa card etc.. He even had found some dry underwear on a shelf very close to the ceiling and my medical kit.
The rest of the room was covered in mud up to 10 inches from the ceiling.
While I was sterilizing my below and putting on my dry underwear in the jungle I felt so rich, so fortunate; I cannot describe it. I felt richer than Bill Gates for sure; at that moment.
Once again my ex `s rational mind made us move on; I was ready to stay in the jungle all night; but he said we needed to find a hotel. So we were one of the first families that were put in a minibus (from the entertainment show)and evacuated to a hotel in Phuket Town which was not hit by the wave at all; as it is at the other side of the bay. Another lucky movement; we actually got our own room at 11th floor (room nr 1110 this time!). I later went down to the reception; what a variegated collection of people; many without other clothes that their underwear or bikini, or their togas; no one glanced or did mind about this. No one complained when they only got some floor space to sleep on, it was not the time to complain about anything, everyone knew we were the lucky ones; and once again; no children nagging after ice creams or soda pop.
I even saw people waiting in long lines for free food at the restaurant (as very few had money); Without any irritation or pushing.
What I learned this day was incredible; and whenever life is rough I think again about what really matters, using the pictures from this happening to correct myself.
A bit of sardonic humor in the middle of all suffering;
A Sweede came to the hotel reception with the hotel`s room safe on his shoulder (Sweedes are "known" to be a bit close-fist with their money) this safe weigh at least 10 kilos; imagine carrying it up in the jungle, bring it with you for one whole day when your life is at stake!
I laughed hysterically of this; couldnt believe it was possible.
- or the woman I talked to; she had about two seconds of time where she could collect something from her room before she fled it. She actually chose an empty, new handbag, matching her bikini.. and the flat iron..
I asked her why; and she said; "the handbag I bought the day before and I wanted one thing that was mine. the flat iron was because of the cable attached to it; I thought I could save someone with that cable"
It was a reason after all. They both had reacted like I did; loosing their reason in their shock state.
The days after the tsunami the children reacted in a very sane way; they wanted us to tell every detail about everything that happened; over and over again; 10`s of times, 100`s of times. My youngest one, 5 year old had this
philosophy; he had just learned his first swimming strokes, and he had new bathing shorts on that day; hence he knew he would make it. He had been our observer during that day; observing every detail about what we did and said, we could actually ask him for details, it was all on his hard disc.
I later read about this; the adults looked at the wave, the kids looked at their parents.
We were taken home the day before new years eve, by a plane set up of our Government. Behind our row it was a man with a broken hip bone, he had lost his fiance in the wave.
In front of us a elderly woman that had lost her husband. She was taken off the plane in the Emirates as she was to sick to continue the flight.
I was totally worn out. I couldnt sleep at night; a film strip was played inside my eyelids as soon as I closed my eyes. I developed hypo/hyper thyroid symptoms in the weeks after. I was so dizzy; it was like walking on jelly. Tired but couldnt sleep. Cold all the time. Palpitations all the time, but especially at night. Woke up every morning at 4-6 am with severe palpitations. Any sound would make me jump. My voice trembled whenever I was telling about what had happened; and still does to this day.
This was my therapy; to tell over and over again, and to come to terms with the fact that we are on earth for a limited time; and that our children are too.
I had long conversations with my eldest son; over and over again; as he had realized the fact that he was helped after our prayer. He knows that this is between us two; as his father would see it all as a coincidence. Still he knows, and believes that we got help "in a strange way" as he says.
After 4 months I still was mentally 90 % in Thailand; I had been on a high wave, now I was hit by a low; I woke up one morning 4 am; with this film-strip playing inside my eyelid; I could actually hear the sound of the palm trees snapping in the wave. I thought at this point I would loose it; so I went to see my MD. Luckily he had taken a course in disaster psychiatry and told me a few things that gave me a hope to get better; time ; just time is needed.
He also gave me a prescription of Melatonin; as I had told that I would not take any medication. I also got help of an homeopath and one acupuncturist; so 2 months after that visit my sleep was greatly improved, and the vertigo slowly went away, too.
Two years after we all went back to the same beach; in hope of healing our last mental wounds. It had a tremendous effect on my eldest son (and me); he came back to his school; and for the first time he managed to tell his class mates about what had happened.
We are all different; my youngest son was never that traumatized. My ex was possibly more frightened of my prayers than the wave.
Intuition is now my best tool when making decisions, or when I need a new direction.
And remember, if possible; look at the animals; they know what is really going on.