How does one say goodbye forever to the people who matter to them the most? You’d like to think that when the time comes, you would know what to say. The perfect words would string themselves together to capture the essence of 21 years of unconditional love. In reality, it’s like getting a whole tortilla chip stuck sideways in your gullet while someone spins you in circles.
My dad called me at 8:15 am Hawaiian Standard Time, mostly to tell me not to worry, but also to tell me goodbye because he, like the rest of the state, were very unsure if they were going to die in a nuclear holocaust within the next 10 minutes. He told me he was hiding in my bathtub, which seems silly, but unless you can make it to a military base within the supposed 12 minutes of warning time Hawaii gets before a blast, you’re pretty much out of options. He wasn’t with my mom and neither of us could get through to her. She sent me a simple text, “I love you.”
When they started testing the civil defense nuclear missile sirens over Christmas break, we (mostly jokingly) concurred dying in the blast would be preferential to the slow horrors of nuclear fallout. If you’ve ever been on the Islands during a natural disaster, you know how laidback Hawaii can be in the face of serious danger. We surf through tsunami watches and buy beer in bulk to be prepared when hurricanes hit, but a ballistic missile? “I just got in the car and we were driving 100 miles per hour but we weren’t going to make it anywhere,” said my mom.
After what felt like an eternity, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard tweeted that the threat was a mistake. Why did it take so long, and why her? Because the lines were jammed (including the governor’s own phone) so a Hawaii resident in D.C. was the only one who could call civil defense to check. My parents laugh about it now, saying it at least showed how unprepared we are and now everyone is throwing “we survived” parties. The aloha spirit won’t be quashed by a mere nuclear precipice, and our nation will not forget that the president finished all 18-holes instead of assuring his people they weren’t going to perish in history’s biggest button measuring contest.
—Quinn Ferrar, Staff Writer