Maria Belon is a Spanish woman who was vacationing in Thailand with her husband and three sons when the tsunami hit. Yes, the Tsunami.
She and her son were separated from the rest of the family, and her story of survival was made into a film, The Impossible.
She was being interviewed on The View, and she said something that stuck with me.
We think we know who we are, she said. We go through life, so sure we know ourselves. But then we go through something horrific, and from deep inside this . . . strength comes to the surface, strength we never knew we had. Then we know, she said, who we are.
When I was a kid I could never connect the stories of my grandparents' survival with the mild-mannered people that shuffled about their living rooms. How Zeidy was sent to a labor camp in Siberia, how Bábi kept her sister's children alive, how Zeidy wasted away from typhus, how Bábi made it through a death march.
Them? These ordinary folks? The same Zeidy who could subsist entirely on sugar, the same Bábi who loves to sleep in, the same Zeidy with the corny jokes, the same Bábi who lives to Windex?
From time to time I have paranoid fantasies, like the government is taken over like in V for Vendetta, and a fascist regime comes up again, and I must survive and take care of others by my wits and perseverance. There is the question of what would I do then?
Now I wonder, Who am I now? What am I capable of, now? What strength is in me, now, that I could tap into, today?