I cannot imagine. I’ve watched television more in the past few days than I’ve probably watched in the past six months before this, and I cannot begin to imagine the horror that the people in Japan are living.

I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to have one horrendous crisis after another, without having time to catch a breath or ride a wave of hope.

It is beyond my imagination to even think about what it must have been like to live through that powerful, horribly destructive earthquake as it happened, then wonder where and if those you loved were still okay.

And then the further unthinkable. The tsunami. Just watching those cars and ships and buildings bobbing in the water, then tumbling uncontrolled down waterways that moments before didn’t even exist, then taking out houses and people and huge buildings and trees. Then in an instant, all that was, wasn’t.

I cannot fathom what it would be like to know that in that town of 20,000, now 9,500 are said to be “missing.” Missing? Four trains, one said to be carrying 200 people, the rest maybe the same, have been “missing” for days now. Missing? I’ve sometimes heard now and again it is three trains that are missing, and I cannot begin to wrap my mind around even that.

I cannot imagine the shock, the horror, the horrendous feelings of powerlessness and helplessness, washing over a whole land of people, and knowing in my mind and in my heart, those aren’t just feelings. That is reality.

I cannot begin to imagine what that would be like. I don’t ever want to know.

Add to all of that the reality of a possible meltdown at a nuclear plant. Two plants. Maybe three plants. Checking little children for radiation. Seeing a grandmotherly lady kneeling on a bridge. Praying, as the water pounded past beneath her, turning cities into what dried later into barren places on the map as though only hours before it was simply farmland.

The pictures will haunt us the rest of our lives, but the reality will be like a stench in the minds and hearts of those who somehow were able to live through it. And we wonder are they the lucky ones. We’d like to think so. Yet.

The unimaginable has happened. Is happening.

Granted, they are alive, but in my mind they must be hollowed out. Taking short breaths. Afraid to know what is really going on. Has it ended. Do they dare exhale. Or.

I can’t imagine.

Granted, help has been arriving for days now, and as this is written late Sunday night — make that the wee hours of Monday morning — much may have again changed before I see the news again. And by the time you read this on Wednesday or Thursday or whenever, still more may have happened. More unthinkables.

More things we — or they, especially they — can’t even begin to imagine, may have come into being.

There can be hope, but there is so much to despair. The trauma of what was and is, I’m sure is so overwhelming. Yesterday and the day before, last week. Then. Just then. Then and again. Then and again and again.

For some will find loved ones alive, yet others have lost them all. The not knowing must be horrendous in the daytime, and doubly so in the night. The terror of what was, and fear of exhaling into what might be.

The rescuers who are arriving, those from our country and many others, are used to going into trying circumstances, but one wonders — I wonder — how do they prepare for something like this?

And yet, a chunk of hope will quickly be found in a bottle of water. A piece of bread. Sometime a hot meal. A blanket. A jacket. A hug. Eyes that cry with you and for you. A prayer.

Knowing a child was, indeed, still alive. A husband found. A mother sheltered. Grandma OK.

I cannot begin to imagine. I find it hard enough to sleep. My heart breaks, my eyes water at the sight of that grandma praying, and I pray back, “Dear God.”