After the Storm

So Hurricane Sandy has come and gone…after a week of hype and preparation, I thought I was ready for her. I tried not to think how stupid I was to fill my freezer, fridge and cabinets with almost $200 worth of food and toiletries that would probably be rendered useless should the power go out like it did over the summer. I have been through hurricanes before…Hurricane Fran, Hurricane Isabel and Hurricane Irene, but I was always surrounded by other people and frankly never experienced any adverse effects. Power never went out, the places I stayed in were not my own and I was simply never responsible for anything. With the recent summer storms and realizing I am the one who has to replace the groceries, report/maybe even be responsible for damages/repairs, knowing that I had valuable things to lose (electronics, photographs, clothing)…that puts a whole new spin on things.

I admit, I was nervous with Sandy’s approach…hell,  she had already killed 58 people on her way here and she shut our public transportation completely down and she was not even here yet.  Forget that, she shut down the entire DMV region! Yeah, I had healthy doses of respect and fear for her.

Because of recent storms,  I have seen firsthand the damage that a falling tree inflicts and now I live right under the roof…what if it crashed in on me? What if I had to trash my groceries? I don’t have a lot of money or options and I did not get the size I am by NOT eating. What if there was flooding and we had to evacuate our homes? If there were an evacuation, when would I be able to return? There were so many what-ifs and worst case scenarios running through my head, but I put my faith in my Higher Power. To keep me safe and give me the strength to face the worst case scenarios. I rallied round with my neighbors and we all cooked the day before projected landfall. My Neighbor baked chicken legs and sweet potatoes; I fixed beef with gravy & onions and some pork. One neighbor bought pizzas and another bought liquor. Guardian Princess baked up some yummy cakes and breads. We all charged cell phones and we had flashlights, candles and batteries. We were going to be there for each other. Except we didn’t need to be…Sandy caused havoc in the region, but my neighborhood was mostly untouched. Power stayed on (those offerings to the Pepco gods must have been accepted), no trees fell on roofs or cars, no flooding. We kept our food to ourselves (still trying to get some of those baked goods from Guardian Princess) and when we did check up on each other, everything was fine.

Taking advantage of having electricity, I stayed glued to the TV watching scenes play and replay of Sandy’s destruction and devastation…I saw NYC submerged in water; I saw boardwalks, piers and docks on the coastal towns disappear. I saw trees topple over like rag dolls, houses and cars crushed and the front of an apartment building ripped right off. I saw sidewalks ripped from the ground. I saw water rise as high as house’s front porches…and while I thanked God that it wasn’t me, my heart went out to those people it did happen to. I mean, these people were losing their homes, their towns and I was going to be all puffed up about losing electricity and groceries…minor inconveniences.

Once again, I am learning lessons from the most unlikely of things. If given a choice, I would rather lose what is in the house than the house itself. Evacuating the house is nothing compared to losing the town in which I live. The images I see on television are not Hollywood imagery…they  are someone’s reality.  And I also learned something else…I learned who the truly important people in my life are. Family may be blood, but it does not always equal to  love or caring. Of course, as with everything, there are exceptions but they are far and few between. This may sound callous and cold and downright bitchy, but I have learned that I see/talk to most of my family at funerals. That’s it. My parents, my siblings, my Panel and a few neighbors…they are my every day, calling just because I thought about you, please share my joy with me family. They are the ones I checked in with during the storm, they are the ones I share my fears, hopes and dreams with. These are the folks I want to invite to my house and cook for and laugh with. They are the ones who made sure I had what I needed to get through the storm (and they did so well before Sandy made an appearance…seriously, what good does it do anyone involved to ask me at the height of the storm if I need anything? If I did, WHERE would you get it? ). They are the ones who when they call aren’t looking to see what I can do for them but how they can help me or help me help myself.

Not going to lie…I had more people on my facebook page checking in on me and checking in with me than my blood relatives, and they do this on a consistent basis. I get more invites to join my friends and their families on outings than I do my blood relatives. And in times of danger or disaster, I want the people who help me live, love and laugh at my side and on my phone. They are the ones I want to tell I love you, I want you to be safe and careful. And not saying anyone is right or wrong here…it is how life is. You grow up, you grow apart and if attempts to re-connect are not made or are ignored…you gather new family. And I have made gestures and overtures…usually I get two folks to respond when I am cooking  on Thanksgiving, but other than that…I have gotten more a response from AFO now that he is back home than I have from asking my family to join me on outings.  Which gives me and at least three reasons to thank Sandy for making an appearance: thank you for sparing me and my loved ones, thank you for showing me that my idea of the worst can be so much worse and thank you for showing me who really matters in my life and more importantly, who I really matter to.

Hoping this post finds everyone safe, sound and with shelter. For those reading who may have been affected/impacted…prayers and positive thoughts are sent your way and may your recovery be swift.

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