Papa Worrying All Night Long

Look at the worry lines around his eyes. This boy is being checked for radiation after leaving the immediate danger zone of a nuclear power plant that is melting down and emitting dangerous radiation. This photograph, which has circulated widely from the NY Times out, gave me the feeling that if I could just pick him up and hold him to me, lean him on my shoulder and cradle his head, then I would somehow regain the role I am meant to play in my life, to comfort my boy and make him safe from harm. I want to hold this guy, tell him he’ll be o.k., and whisk him away from there. This photograph lights my instincts up like a candle.

The pictures from Japan are all we know, and all we are allowed to know about what it must feel like today to be there, where the air is cold, and your clothes might be very wet, and your house just might be gone, and you may not know where is Daddy, or where is Mommy, and why can’t this all stop so I can go home and feel safe and comfortable again, and eat my favorite food and lay down my head? Here and there, I know so many men and women now who are in the same impossible limbo as I am about this. People I tell you, they are at home now, looking at photos of ball caps and tight hugs and satisfied smiles and eyes open to the camera and they are just like me, imagining the warmth of their children’s cheeks, and crying out to God or white walls or computer screens or someone, or shouting into their unanswered phones and they are rocking in their seats, rocking and rocking and longing and hoping someone wakes up to put an arm around them, and pull their tears into a knowing shoulder. Because they are afraid that their children are cold, or wet, or hungry, or scared, and they want to know why, now, they can’t bring them to bed and fall into a dream, right now, together, far from danger, far from fear, far from the cruelty of this disaster.

Where is Rui now? Hidden, that’s where. Hidden somewhere by child-abductor Kensuki Onuki  (Ohnuki), Machico Terauchi, and her family and friends. There is no poetry in that story. Just bitterness and stupidity, and a pack of lies.

The US government stands at the ready, says our fearless President; ready to help. Yet this weekend, the Department of State appears to be on its usual vacation. They have sent us the form letters. They will let us know if they hear something. Our consular staff, oh lord, is just waiting with full energy for the arrival of  information, if only it should arrive. Only oh so sorry that they haven’t until now considered our children a sufficient priority to determine their whereabouts and report them to us, or to stand up to them for stealing babies from our arms and bringing them to this pass.

See? Pick up that boy in the photo now, and bring him home. Because he needs you so bad.

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