That, my friends, is a very large number. But, it is quite meaningless - we learn at a young age that numbers must always be followed by units. So here is my unit - people.
Dead. In Haiti - in a single day. As a direct result of earth's tectonic plates shifting.
When I was in Poland and Israel learning about how to provide an anti-Hate curriculum and using the Holocaust as my primary case, it was always emphasized how little the number 6 million means to people.
6,000,000 people. Dead. (And that's just the Jews). Did you actually feel anything?
What we were consistently told was that the stories of individuals needed to be shared so that people could understand not just the political and economic tragedy of losing 6 million people, but the enormous personal loss felt by those who survived them.
So, when we read in the news for the next week (until another minor celebrity dies and takes up more news coverage, or another Republican senate hopeful in the states is caught sleeping with a mistress) that 100,000 people died, I am going to try to think of it in much more than historical terms.
I will imagine my brother was one of them. That his love for graphic novels, his interest in educational psychology and how to interact with students that come from impoverished homes, his extensive knowledge of beer varieties was lost. Forever. That I will never see him again - that I will never hear him laugh. Or play video games. That we will never be drunk again. Never fight again.
And then I will add another character to the story. My friend, April. Who plays the baritone and alto saxophones just right. Who communicates so much joy with her laughter that spending a moment with her can brighten your entire day. Who always accuses me of looking at her breasts and then makes the intimate eye contact that searches are a little bit of confirmation. That loves the colour purple.
That my piano teacher, Sandra, with her wealth of knowledge about not only the piano and music in general, but also the importance of God and relationship, is to be lost forever. Her appreciation for hard work, and her absolute joy for the slightest improvement in one's ability to not only make music but the enjoy it...
I will try to imagine that the 100,000 Haitians that have died in the past 24 hours were my brother, my friend April, and my piano teacher Sandra. Because that is who died - they just lived in Haiti. And they have been lost... to somebody.
I will get to see these people again, and I will do what I can to grieve with the people in Haiti in the interim.