Aftershocks

Two days before, I finished an 18 day-trek through the Annapurna region in the Himalayas.


Two hours before, I booked a flight from Kathmandu to Delhi.

Two minutes before, I packed all of my bags to check out of my current hotel, apparently booked solid. And then it hit. 7.8 on the Richter scale.

I was unbelievably lucky.

I was in my hotel room in Kathmandu when the whole floor moved beneath me, churning with unbounded intensity. Two minutes later, heart racing, I looked outside my door with my backpack clutched in hand, ran through the hotel, and out the front door, where I was greeted by a shell shocked crowd of 100+ hotel guests dispersed on the lawn. 12 hours later, I arrived at the U.S. embassy, where I stayed safely amidst 30+ aftershocks, knowing that death, destruction, and panic enveloped the entire country. Everywhere but here. Everywhere but this particular building. Two days later, I flew to Delhi. One day later, I flew home to San Francisco.

I was unbelievably lucky.

I did not dig for bodies amidst the rubble. I did not see my entire village collapse before my eyes. I did not lose my father, mother, brother, husband, or best friend. I am still here. And yet, I find myself — one week later — still processing.

Since I’ve been back in San Francisco, it has been nothing short of an emotional roller coaster. Apparently you can feel gratitude, abundance, fear, loss, sadness, anxiety, ‘enoughness’, and joy all at once. Simultaneously.

And for me, personally, the gratitude showed up first and foremost. An unbelievably overwhelming sense of gratitude. For being alive. For being one of the lucky ones. A not-so-subtle reminder of how fragile all of this is — all of this seemingly permanent stuff. This life. This body.

I brushed off the trauma of the past week with the assumption that because I was lucky, because I left uninjured, and because I was now back home in a safe space, I was okay.

And it wasn’t until I woke up in a panic of sweat and confusion, convinced I was in Nepal during yet another aftershock, that I realized, there’s deep fear and anxiety that still resides. The next night, it happened again.

In the aftermath of this great and terrible event, I know I need to be gentle with myself. To slow down and let it process, even though I was one of the very lucky ones. To let everything in.

And it is hard for me to truly comprehend all of the pain and suffering so many Nepali families are experiencing at this very moment. The families who were not so lucky. My heart is so, so heavy for this country and its people.

And so, this is not a call to donate (though you should strongly consider), but rather, an invitation to be gentle with yourself and those around you, today, and always. Because this life is too short to be anything short of fiercely compassionate. Because you never really know where that person just came from. Because we only ever have a partial view. And, because the aftershocks exist long after the aftershocks settle.

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