We get sick of hearing something repeatedly. I remember the first summer after hurricane Katrina, I took a team of 24 to New Orleans to help people try to put their storm-ravaged lives back together. It had been 10 months since the water receded and entire neighborhoods were still untouched. devastation was everywhere I looked.
The need was still huge but the initial interest was gone. The news media satellite trucks had moved on long ago and most people elsewhere thought things were back to normal. Thankfully churches and some civic organizations were still sending teams.
I took a team of 36 back the next summer and while progress was visible, people were still living in tiny FEMA trailers and most every neighborhood still had houses with blue tarps on the roofs covering holes people crawled through to escape the rising water in their homes. There were still no playgrounds, no little league baseball and nothing for the children to do except wander overgrown, abandoned house lots. The people of New Orleans were mostly forgotten by then while news media and politicians argued about removing unhealthy trailers.
The same thing happened in Haiti after the horrific earthquake. The world responded and people gave in amazing ways. We rally. We pool our resources and we do everything we can to help during crisis. But it eventually fades or is replaced by a new catastrophe and people are left to deal with the aftershocks alone.
My storm was no Katrina or Haiti, but in my life it was terrifying. I think I felt like people must feel hiding in a closet in their house when a tornado is roaring straight at them. Have you felt like that? Just sitting in a closet knowing that the roof above you could be ripped off at any moment and your life will end?
With my liver disease I knew that, short of a miracle, the tornado was going to hit my house. As my condition worsened it was like I heard the roar, felt my house straining to stand while pieces of everything went flying past already ripped apart.
Do you feel a tornado coming? Sense that a Tsunami is just off shore roaring toward you? Marriage shaking? Job unstable? Bills piling up higher than the funds you have? Creditors calling every night and day? Terminal illness? Disease? Man, there are so many storms out there …
The pressure builds and you know something has to give, something has to change for you to come through the storm. For me, the only potential path through the storm was a major and risky transplant surgery. What are your potential paths?
During my journey I’ve met so many different types of people. I’ve met warriors and quitters and I have been a warrior and a quitter on different days. I’ve met whiners and shiners and again, I’ve been both. I’ve met the positive and the pessimist and yes, I’ve been each. But, I think overall, I’ve tried to choose to be more of a positive, fighter person than negative.
Why does it matter? I’m no researcher but, from what I have experienced, it appears that the positive people, the fighters, who navigate storms more successfully. know they have a higher success rate.
We who have survived the storm, like the people of New Orleans after Katrina, now sit and look at the lasting effects. My house, in comparison to others, survived pretty well. We have numerous things that will never be the same and we’ve got damage to deal with but we are so very thankful and fortunate. It could have been so much worse.
I look around and see friends and neighbors rebuilding their homes or closely watching the skies fearing just how bad their oncoming storm might be. I see some hunkered down while ferocious waves pound at their foundations. People at the house just next door sunbathe on their lawn with no hint of a storm in sight.
I wish I could take your storm away. I wish I could give you a guarantee that nothing bad will happen. All I can give you is my love and support and point you toward my strength through my storm …