It seems like a long, long time ago that I first received word of this week's earthquake centered in Christchurch, New Zealand, but a woman I love, my daughter, was in the vicinity. I cannot help but wonder the way fathers do about her safety and welfare. But thus far not a word.
The folks at the United States embassy in Aukland, some 473 miles and a world away, were great when I contacted them last night. There are no reports of American deaths or casualties, a correspondent told me. But, she went on to say, please do inform them if I learn anything. It was an odd, odd thing to turn to the government for help. Necessity has made a hypocrite of me.
At this point, I would settle for the tiniest shard of information. What I have learned is the Christchuch was hit hard. There are folks still missing, and feared trapped beneath collapsed buildings. Rescuers are working frantically against the clock to save all they can. Apparently some 70 or so folks are confirmed dead, and as many as 300 are missing.
Odds are my daughter is fine. She and friends were on a road trip. For all I know, they fled the area before the tremors struck and are lolling in the outback somehwere, perhaps without knowledge that the Earth roared. I have an alternative vision, my daughter losing herself only to find a truer version of herself in service of others as she assists rescuers. On this latter theory, she hasn't called because she's been distracted, or, perhaps, because the communication network has been damaged.
But the father in me picks at old scabs. My father disappeared one day, or so it seemed to me. He left for work one day when I was quite young and never returned. I did not know whether he was alive or dead for some 40 years. It took his new wife to make the call that introduced two men with everything and nothing in common. I cannot bear the thought of losing another loved one to the mist.
Aided by my other children, and friends of my daugher's, we are trying to reassemble her New Zealand itinerary, tracing her steps and movements. If we do not hear from her by this weekend, either my wife or I will travel to the end of the Earth to find this girl. I want desperately to be the one to go, but a law firm is sometimes a cruel yoke. In any case, the week crawls and something like fatigue sets in. I wonder where she is, and I crave the sight and sound of her.