My stomach slowly rolled over, and I found other emails asking the same thing - notices that friends had queried on my Facebook wall to see if my husband and I were all right, do we live close to the epicenter?
With quiet dread, we checked the news online. I know he felt the same way I did; afraid that we would learn another earthquake had occurred in Emilia-Romagna, only, perhaps this time even closer to home. Frightened that we would have reason to worry about our loved ones while we were thousands of miles away, unable to do anything about the situtation unfolding back home.
We soon found that the quake has hit the region of Umbria, also close to Marche, Abruzzo and Lazio, in the very center of Italy, where the structures are ancient and unlikely to withstand a shallow, 6.8 magnitude quake. And so, the devastation is rather far from our home, but the impact of the event will certainly be felt by the entire country in so many ways.
I'm sad to say, my first response to this was an immediate sort of relief. Upon reading the location of the epicenter, my heart calmed and my stomach stopped turning. My family and my home in Italy were safe, it seemed.
I then felt guilty for thinking this, particularly when I saw photos of the damage and the rising death toll listed on successive articles about the disaster. The number keeps growing as the reports come in, and we see this quake has more than a few echoes of the quake in L'Aquila in 2009, as well as those in Mirandola in 2012, all of them having occurred in the middle of the night while most people slept, and a handful of people worked in the wee hours of the morning. The loss of life and livelihood comes seemingly out of nowhere - but then, doesn't it always?
And as I read, I continue to consider those who don't have the luxury I did, for a few minutes on a Wednesday morning in the US, of knowing their family is, for the moment, safe at home.
If you would like to help out by donating money to areas hit by this morning's earthquake, please go to the website for Croce Rossa Italiana for more information.