Within an hour or so of our return, a demolition crew tore up walls, ceilings, and flooring. Furniture was hauled away, books and photographs were thrown in a large dumpster. Only two small rooms were spared, and they became the storage spaces for the remnants of the life we once knew.
Over the next four months, we lived week by week in different motels. The only clothes we had were the ones we had packed for our ill-fated cross-country trip. Compared to our Texas neighbors, though, we were very lucky.
Like you, I have watched with horror as scenes of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation crowd newspapers and television stations. Those heart-wrenching images prompt this short piece, for I want to explain that what you see is only a small part of the story.
When the familiar is taken from us, numbness takes residence; we simply do what we can to survive, even though the will to survive may elude us.
All of us are accustomed to convenience, to the simple act of opening a refrigerator and finding butter for toast or cream for coffee. We are comforted by familiarity, of knowing where the toothpaste is or the group photo of our children. We are attached to our “stuff,” the chair we sit in or the pillow that cradles our head. We don’t think about these things; they are the everyday part of our lives that go unnoticed – until they are no more.
When our home is taken from us, it is the everyday unimportant things of life that suddenly become meaningful. These replaceable, common items capture our focus. It’s easier to be frustrated at a missing comb than the vanity that once held it. It’s easier to complain about the stationary that we can’t find than our desk that was thrown on the mound of broken dreams. Tragedy leaves our hearts barren of perspective; and, we manage through the unimportant details of life.
It will be a long time before the victims of Hurricane Harvey experience the comfort of familiarity. The rebuilding of their homes will stretch through months perhaps years, but the healing of their hearts may take longer. When the pieces of their lives return with some sense of order, they’ll discover that they can feel again, and they may have doubted it was possible.
What can we do? I am a doer by nature; I fix problems or at least try to do so. But, this is a cataclysm that I cannot fix. And, it hurts to know that friends are struggling. So, with them in mind, I send donations and offer prayers. To that end, I’m providing a charity link that I use when I contribute. Perhaps it will be valuable to you as well: Charity Navigator. Or, if you’d prefer to give to a small organization that will provide direct gifts to those hurting, you might consider this link: Rave Reviews Book Club.
To all who are caught in Harvey’s clutches, hold on to whatever or whomever gives you comfort. This agony will pass eventually, and you will know peace. We are with you in spirit. ♥