Aftermath

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The past few days have been exhausting. As hurricane Harvey slammed into my hometown area - a whole flood of emotions has rained down on me. Mike and I have been glued to the news nonstop. Houston is now getting catastrophic flooding. Many, many people are still missing and unaccounted for in the worst areas. It is torture to watch it all from so far away.

We were up more than half the night when it hit, sending text updates to my friends who stayed in Corpus, because they had no power or internet and were sitting scared in their homes with no way to know what was going on all around them.

One of my best and oldest friends went dark on us around 2am, and we didn’t hear from her again until after 3pm the next day. Even though she was in Corpus and didn’t get the worst of it, I can tell you… it was one of the longest waits ever for me.

By late yesterday morning, I found a group on Facebook where locals who did manage to get cell service were starting to communicate. Pictures and addresses of loved ones were shared left and right - by others who were searching desperately to find them. Most of these, out where the worst of the storm hit in Rockport and Port Aransas. Pictures of the damage started to flood in too, from the news and from locals who were out there. I am still dreading more thorough coverage of the damage because I know, so many places I have a lifetime of memories with could be gone. So many places that Drew and I shared special memories could be gone. So many things that have been there for my entire life, things I have expected will always be there when I go home to visit, could be gone.

I cannot even express how much emotion this has stirred up. By the time we heard from my friend, I was nearing a panic attack. Even though I knew it was likely that she was perfectly fine. Even though I knew the cell lines were just down and Corpus did not get hit as bad as other areas. Even so, it was a horribly familiar moment.

I remember not being able to get a hold of Drew the day he died… and being completely oblivious that he had even been flying that day, much less in a crash. Just going about my day, for hours, thinking nothing of the lack of contact. By the time I knew what even happened, he was already gone. So even though I logically knew my friend was likely fine, my brain can no longer just be logical.

I could not stop the panic of wondering what was going on. Wondering how scared she was that night. Wondering if something crazy had happened, like a looter breaking into their house… which is still a very real danger right now until things calm down. That familiar not knowing. And that dreadful feeling of not being able to imagine my life without one of my oldest and dearest friends. It was a serious blow to the gut.

This morning, I’ve checked in with her. They have power back again at her house. And cell service is at least working in town some. Rescuers are making their way out to the island areas now, working to save folks and help begin the tiresome cleanup.

This whole thing is such a reminder of aftermaths in my own life. The times of deep destruction, when all but the bones of me have been stripped away. I can’t ignore the metaphor, because I can feel it pulsing through me. Seeing all the destruction in pictures yesterday… I am feeling it deeply, not only because it is a place I love. It also resembled my inner self after he died. If you could have taken a photograph to perfectly articulate the aftermath of his death, it would have looked like that… an entire city just blown apart with debris left everywhere. With water flooding in where it wasn’t supposed to be. With wreckage and downed power lines flailing dangerously.

Although I have endured that painstaking process of rebuilding my heart these past years, I can’t imagine what it is like to have to also rebuild everything around you. I was fortunately enough to have never had to live through a major hurricane in my 20 years there. People who have lost not just family members, but perhaps all of their belongings and homes too. My heart hurts for my home town today, and I wish so deeply I were closer by to be able to be there to support them through the aftermath.


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  • commented 2017-09-01 04:57:39 -0700
    Love you Sarah.
  • commented 2017-08-28 07:35:26 -0700
    Thank you for sharing this Anonymous.
    I’m so very sorry to hear of everything your niece of going through. I truly cannot imagine the added trauma all this is bringing into her already chaotic world. Please know she is in my thoughts and prayers. I hope her business makes it through and that somehow, through the midst of the aftermath some good begins to come. I can completely understand her not wanting to leave during the storm. Let’s hope the worst is finally over for now.

    Your words about the past really resonated with me too. I suppose since my fiance died, I have been fighting the fact that parts of my life are simply in the past. In a way, it feels comforting to hear you say it so plainly, perhaps helps me feel a bit more acceptance for certain times in my life I can never go back to. Acceptance is a wonderful feeling.

    Sending my love, thank you again!
    Sarah
  • commented 2017-08-27 15:51:39 -0700
    Sarah,

    My niece was recently widowed in her early 30’s and she moved to Corpus Christi, TX about two months ago to begin a new life. She bought a house, a business, and enrolled in a graduate program at Texas A&M University’s campus in Corpus Christi. School was set to begin tomorrow. She was not even fully unpacked when Hurricane Harvey came along. Now we all know that life is more important than “stuff” but she chose to stay at her home through what became a Category 4 hurricane in part because by the time she found someone to board up her house it was too late to evacuate, but the real reason was because after frantically unpacking various boxes she had not yet found something she said was absolutely irreplaceable and she was not going to leave it behind. She did not tell me what it was, but I presume it was something related to her deceased husband, my nephew-in-law. I was widowed a few years ago at age 59 so I can understand the deep emotional attachment to something from or about a dead husband that cannot be replaced. Sometimes memories are not enough. As you did with your friend, I also texted with my niece throughout the night giving her weather updates as she hunkered down in an interior closet with her four dogs. She survived, as did her dogs, and her house will probably be okay, though power has not yet been restored. No word yet about whether the business is still standing. And school has been postponed indefinitely. So whether it’s your old familiar world that’s been blown apart, or a new life you’re struggling to establish, it is devastating. I am so sorry for the parts of your past you may have lost because of Hurricane Harvey. One thing I have learned at my age is that life continually changes all the time and sometimes there is just no going back to something familiar that we always thought would be there. For those of us who are sentimental there is continual grieving over everything that changes and disappears. It never really stops. We just learn to live with it. It may sound like a cliché, but the best way I have found to cope is to keep moving forward to new things with a positive outlook, while simultaneously remembering and being grateful for what I had. But even so……

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