I’ve received an overwhelming number of emails and messages from friends asking if I’m doing okay and if we are safe here in Modena. I am and we are. On May 20th we were woken up at 4.00 am by photographs that had come crashing down on our bed. I recognized it as an earthquake right away and woke my husband up. It felt so close, I knew that it had to be near us. There were some aftershocks during the morning but nothing that alarmed us too much. The next day I went to a half marathon race and everybody was talking about their lack of sleep but happy to be safe.
This last Tuesday I’d just dropped my son Evan at school and was settling into my work at home when we felt the first big earthquake. It was 5.9 on the Richter scale and went on for about 30 seconds. That is a long long time for the earth to shake! My husband Piero and I dashed under the doorway and waited it out. After we were done freaking out a bit Piero went to go get Evan from school. All the children were standing outside in the garden and school was declared closed until further notice.
For the rest of the morning we tried to work some more while listening for updates on television but it was impossible to concentrate. At 1.oo p.m. the second big quake came, 5.8 on the Richter scale. This felt more intense and seemed to last longer and definitely scared the **** out of all three of us. We live in a new building which was built with anti-seismic criteria so we weren’t too worried about that, but we knew that this second shake meant more buildings were going to be falling in the vicinity.
We live just 10 kilometers from the epicenter. While Modena has been left intact, the surrounding towns are nearly destroyed. I have many friends that have lost everything. People are sleeping outside in tents and the city has opened all of its parks so they can be used as campgrounds until buildings can be inspected. I think the most nerve-racking thing is that the earth continues to shake. There are more than a 100 aftershocks a day of which twenty can be felt. I sit at my desk and feel them and try and decide if they’re going to intensify or not. So far so good…
Tonight I went running out into the open countryside. It felt good to get rid of some of that tension that I’d been accumulating in the last 48 hours. About a half hour into the run I came upon a really touching scene: a group of people, neighbors, saying rosary around a statue of the Madonna in the middle of the street. It made me feel that even in the middle of tragedy, something good comes out of it. People supporting each other, taking the time to meditate in their own way. Together.
Thank you for all your prayers.