We Read Rainbow Fish While I Waited to Die Experiencing the Hawaii Ballistic Missile Alarm

<span class="entry-title-primary">We Read Rainbow Fish While I Waited to Die</span> <span class="entry-subtitle">Experiencing the Hawaii Ballistic Missile Alarm</span>

There are some mornings where everything seems to just line up.

It can be for any number of reasons.

A perfect sunrise with the birds chirping. Ideal morning temperatures and your favorite cup of tea in hand. Heck, maybe the babies slept through the night for the 3rd night in a row.

Like I said, some mornings, the stars aline and it is, well, perfect.

This morning was that morning.

It is truly amazing what the day will bring when you’ve gotten a good nights rest! (Or three nights, in the case of this lucky lady!)

And as this perfect morning went on, my family woke up, joined me in the kitchen for pancakes and bacon, and everything was honestly right with the world.

Then, a split second later, an alert went off on our cell phones.

“BALLISTIC MISSLE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

The message came a little after 8:00 am on a perfect Saturday morning, and every single bit of air that I had in my lungs was sucked from them suddenly and without warning.

Where do we go? What do we do? How do we protect the babies?? Has my phone been hacked?! Is this a joke?? THIS HAS TO BE A JOKE!!!

… all of these thoughts and a million more raced through my brain in a fraction of a second but a simple… “Nathan, look…” was all that came out.

Surely he would look at it and reassure me that it was some kind of spam message. But he didn’t. Instead, he found his phone and it revealed the same warning. A quick shout from the balcony confirmed that our neighbor had received it as well. Then the texts started to come…

“What is going on?”
“Did you get a warning on your phone?”
“Get to a shelter.”
“What does Botts say?”

…I couldn’t think clearly and I hadn’t moved. I just kept holding the kids waiting for an order.

Finally, my brain kicked in, and I heard Nathan say something about being under stairs… so I grabbed my babies and went down into the most protected room in the house, their room. I managed to ask him if we had water and somehow just kept moving.

My legs started to give and I sat down to watch the babies crawl around looking at their various toys and that’s when I started to think,

“We are going to die.”

People always talk about your life flashing before your eyes before you die, but I always assumed that was in an instantaneous sort of way. Something that happened as the headlights blinded you in the split seconds before a car accident. Never thinking about what would happen if I had a few minutes to wait for death to come, my mind was surprisingly blank.

As I sat there, on the fuzzy white carpet, running my fingers through the fur, nothing flashed before my eyes. No film strip, or regretful wishes. No desire to make final phone calls.

I kept my eyes sternly fixed, unblinking, upon my children and I started to shake.

Looking at them, the fog began to lift as I realized this could be our last minutes, what do I do?

So, I grabbed them both in my arms and gave them the biggest hug I could before they started to squirm away. I asked Reef for a kiss and got a big wet sloppy toddler one right on the lips. Then I kissed Roxy and breathed in that perfect smell that only babies have and I started to read.

My son and I picked Rainbow Fish.

We flipped through the beautiful pages and read the familiar story about giving to others and friendship.

I could hear my husband in the other room, being the man I’ve always known. Making phone calls, taking charge. Telling his mom to get to safety, calling his Sergeant, his military friend, the Civil Defense. Doing anything he could to debunk an alert that literally shook me to my core.

Then we got a call from our neighbor and Nathan went back upstairs to talk to him.

So I just kept on holding my babies and reading.

On the inside, I was crumbling, but all I could do was keep on reading.

If our remaining breaths were few, the least I could do was make sure my children were not afraid…

The simplicity of the moment was almost beautiful.

And then Nathan appeared in the doorway…

“It was a mistake, it’s not real. We are ok. There is no missile.”

He grabbed our son and went back upstairs and in that moment I cried.

I cried out of fear, confusion, relief, joy. I cried because I didn’t spring into action like I thought I would. And because I didn’t fall apart like I thought I could. I cried because a million moments were suddenly given back to me that I was sure we were going to miss.

I held our daughter to my chest and let silent tears roll down my cheeks.

It took about twenty minutes from the first alert for the second to come…

“There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False Alarm.”

Hawaii Ballistic Missile Alarm

It took my husband a few tries to get me to come out of the room. But, I let the tears on my face dry as I smiled at my family and went back out into the world.

I watched my son dance. I watched my daughter play in her pool. A few minutes ago, my husband and I put them down for a nap. I held Reef’s hand while I nursed Roxy to sleep.

It was perfect.

If I can take something from this experience and give it to others, it is this:

Find the people you want to be with at the very last moment. Those are the people that matter more than anything else in this entire world. It matters more than money, more than possessions. More than social media and any other number of insignificant things that take over our lives. You find those people and you cling to them with every ounce of your being.

Today was the scariest day of my entire life. It is a day that I know I will never forget.

But at least now I know, my life is enough. It is more than enough, it is wonderful.

And if at the very end, I am sitting in a room, with my babies, reading Rainbow Fish… well could I really ask for anything more?



37 thoughts on “We Read Rainbow Fish While I Waited to Die Experiencing the Hawaii Ballistic Missile Alarm

  • This was so beautifully written, with such a raw and incredible perspective. I had tears in my eyes as I read every word. Then, I read it aloud to my sweet husband, and afterwards, we talked about what we would do if it were us who had received a text like that and what we would do with our three small children. Thank you so much for writing this amazing post, and for having the beautiful heart that you do.♥️

  • I can’t imagine what you must have felt reading that alert. It must have been so terrifying thinking that it might be the end. Thank God it was just a false alarm! We got a similar one in my country about an earthquake with the magnitude of 9 and the everyone panicked, got out of their houses and prepared for the worst. It was just a false alarm, someone hacked the alarming systems.

  • I was talking to my sister when she got the alert of her phone. Like you she wanted to be with her son. She ran 1 block toward the beach to meet her husband and son and was meet half way. I could hear them kissing and hugging and repeating I love you. I was so scared thinking this was the last time I would hear my sisters voice, then the call disconnected. I turned on the new and my phone ran, and she said it was a false alarm.

  • This was such a heart wrenching post. I have so many friends and family who like you, had their lives flash right in front of them. One said he made a cup of coffee and just sat down on the couch. The other was woken up in a panic by her young daughter who has read the alert first. My heart breaks for the panic and fear everyone felt. Much of that will linger for some. I am so glad that it was a mistake. So very very glad!

  • I have a special memories with my first son and rainbow fish it was the first book he could read back to us word for word! So I enjoyed reading this post. so sorry to all of Hawaii they had a day of panic.

  • Thank you so much for sharing what must’ve been a very harrowing experience. You acted much the same way I would’ve done with my children. And honestly this whole thing makes me mad that such a foolish mistake was made.

  • I still can’t believe that happened to all of you! I got choked up reading your post, imagining the terror and other emotions you felt. Thankful everyone is okay (minus still being shaken I’m sure). Sending hugs.

    • Thank you Heather 💙 it was definitely an incredibly unfortunate mistake for someone to make, but I just keep reminding myself to remember how much better it is than the alternative!! 😊💙💙💙

    • Thank you so much Deborah, I just feel really lucky that I was with my family when it happened. I know there were so many families that weren’t together. I can’t imagine that level of panic 😞

  • I cant even imagine what that was like to go though. I am SO thankful it was a drill and this is definitely a scary time. A stark reminder to be thankful for every moment. Thinking of you and your family!

  • I just got full body chills reading this. While sitting here crying and wanting to throw up at how you must feel. I’m in NY & saw this on the news & never thought of the mother’s holding their babies just scared out of their minds. I want to share this on my blog if that’s alright with you. I want others to see this. Please let me know. xoxoxo so glad you’re safe.

    • Hi Stacey, thank you so much for reading and for your insanely kind words, I would be happy to have you share this on your blog. Please just email me (mal@alohaconnecticutgirl.com) with any questions. Thank you 💙

  • This…. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I went and grabbed my 10 month old twin boys and all I could think of is this is going to be my last time holding them. I still keep crying ober the feeling that this brought. I am however grateful that it let us know how unprepared we were and how we need to prep better incase the next time is real.

    • Exactly mama!! Im so glad we are all ok, and just grateful for the small amount of clarity that the moment provided us 💙💙💙 glad you and your little ones are ok mama

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!