Sunday, November 11, 2012

What I Lost in Sandy... And What I Gained

I went looking for some cream in my refrigerator the other day and then remembered: oh yeah, I threw it out. Hurricane Sandy. We threw away just about everything from our fridge and freezer after the storm when we lost power for four days.

Hurricane Sandy hit almost two weeks ago. We were lucky. Our power went off on Monday at 2:30 PM, and came back on Friday at 2:30 PM. We had some tree branches down, and a little damage to some window trim, but that was it.We did not suffer the horrific losses that many around us did.

The  devastation is everywhere. So many people are talking about and suffering through loss. It was the question to ask for days--even weeks, now--when speaking with people after the storm. "Did you lose anything because of the hurricane?" I am always very thankful to answer no, but very sad to hear of the losses so many people had to endure.

I am incredibly thankful that I have no real loss to report. Instead, I'm going to report what I gained from Hurricane Sandy:

-I gained the cleanest refrigerator that I've had since it was new, about 8 years ago. I dumped a ton of food and scrubbed the appliance from top to bottom. I had the time and a reason to clean it, and I'm glad I did.

-I gained some beautiful memories... Uno, spoons, cooking at the fireplace, and cuddling up with the kids during the chilly days without heat or media distractions. Snuggling with my husband, talking about all the 'what ifs', worrying together and leaning on each other for strength. Family bonding time was a blessing that Sandy blew our way. It was wonderful, even though it was a difficult time. (We did miss our Andy Brown but we're glad he was safe at college.)

-I gained a reverence for Mother Nature. Whether her name is Sandy, or Athena, or a simple stiff breeze, she packs a punch that can kill. I watched as trees bowed to her winds and succumbed to those rains. I felt this same awe this past summer as we watched millions of gallons of water cascade down over the Niagara Falls, but it's much more formidable when that same force is surging through your backyard. I will never, ever take a hurricane warning lightly again.

-I gained humility. I could not do enough to help other people--literally. I certainly helped. We shoveled the beach into the Pine Beach, and we helped to sort and disperse donations with the soccer club.We delivered gas to friends who needed it. I lent my shoulder to strangers who needed a place to cry, people who were still in shock from losing everything. I donated food and clothes and plastic tubs.  I made tons of phone calls at work to follow-up on families in need. But it was not enough. It was one drop in the huge bucket of need. If there were a hundred people doing what I did, it would not be enough.

-I gained immense respect for so many people around me. Thankfully, there are thousands of people doing what I did, and much, much more. Organizers are organizing. Leaders are leading. And people are coming together all around to support, to help, to bring back the Jersey Shore that Sandy washed away. JerseyShoreWill and Operation Jersey Strong are just two of the groups that have popped up in support of our fallen community. Governor Christie and President Obama came together to aid the people of this state. I am moved and impressed with the good citizenship that I've seen all around.

-I gained hope and faith. I believe in my community, in those around me, in the grace of God.  I believe that things at the shore will get better. I don't know if it will happen in time for my husband and kids to go back to work on the boardwalk next summer, but I believe that the Jersey Shore will be back again soon. People are bound and determined to make it happen. It will happen! The Jersey Shore will come back, better and stronger than ever.

-I gained mortality. Not that I was ever immortal... but Hurricane Sandy was a strong reminder of how precious life really is - every minute of every day. I was reminded that I should spend my life living, and not just waiting for some future, "better" time. There is no better time than now to live.

And with that last wake up call, I have been reminded that I have stories still cozy, curled up, and tucked inside my brain. There's no better time than now to let them out, to write them down and give them lives of their own.

God bless the victims of Hurricane Sandy--may you all find gifts that she left behind.


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