So tomorrow marks the 4 year anniverary of Hurricane Katrina.
Or "Big K" as I like to refer to her.
It seems my life is marked by "BK" or "AK" (Before Katrina or After Katrina).
I think a lot of people in LA and the Gulf Coast probably have that same timeline.
So, 4 years ago - Matt and I were restlessly trying to sleep in Alexandria, LA -- having left before the storm at the last possible second. Listening to the news --- hearing Anderson Cooper and other squak boxes in the background counting down the hours and minutes until the storm touched land.
And then it hit. With a massive roar.
And we knew it was bad.
So after evaluating options, we decided the best thing was to drive to Dallas -- after seeing the hurricane track, we were pretty confident we wouldn't have to be back at work for a couple of days. We made our way to Dallas - pretty much with the smallest suitcase I had ever packed, plus our newly adopted dog Max and all of his paraphenelia. (We had him less than 6 days at this point)
And that's what we thought -- it was a break from work. Wind damage likely. Roads would be blocked. And yay :) The bank would be closed for at least a couple of days.
Never did we imagine the devestation. And we never thought flood waters would take over our little place like they did.
(Insert pics here --- if it wasn't so late, I would upload a few pics - but it is late and I am lazy at the moment - so this is my reminder!)
So, some have heard our story - others haven't. But I'll keep it brief.
We lost our home.
I say that and people automatically assume we came back to a foundation and nothing else.
Let me clarify --- we came back to a mud-filled, nasty molded-out mess where 4-5 feet of flood water once resided. A home that was shuttered and no light or air was let in for 10 days.
That ruins a home by the way.
We were able to salvage some stuff. Most being in the attic. The rest (clothes, all furniture, pictures, appliances) - g.o.n.e.
It is with only a 4 year perspective and a recent trip back to Slidell that I can finally say -- what a blessing.
Now I know that seems twisted - and I do realize that others (probably many others) do not feel like their lives are better off since Katrina. We are among the lucky few.
B.K. - Matt and I were just living lives as happy newlyweds - just bought our first place on our own, our jobs were good.. but looking back, it was just kind of empty. We had just a couple of good friends (that we still keep in touch with today) but besides that - not much else. We worked, we went out to eat, we worked out, we had fun --- but that was it.
A.K. - We had a to do a sudden about-face on the lives we were living. They weren't bad, they just weren't full. We lost a lot... A LOT... in that storm. And to this day, I still mourn this wonderful pair of grey sweatpants from GAP of all places that flared just right, curved the butt just right - man, I miss those...
But we learned that possessions are just that.
We like to have them - hell, we even love to have them. Sometimes we worship them.
And that's where we were. We had all this STUFF. And it was OURS. And no.one should be able to take that away from us.
But here's where we aren't in control.
When God says enough. is enough.
And for us that was the case.
It was humbling the core.
Crushing on many levels.
The scars still remain.
Proof point: anytime a storm even breaks off of the African coastline I start to panic. I didn't stay for Katrina, but I did for Ike (in Houston) - and that being a Hurricane 1 or 2 just scared the bejeesus out of me.
But the point is: and I can honestly say this without resentment or bitterness --- we are better off having gone through that. We learned so much about each other. We saw the good in each other -- we saw A LOT of the bad :) But we somehow made this thing work.
And now with our life in Houston - I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. We are content. We are peaceful. We love our home but are not attached to it. We like our "stuff" but if it was gone tomorrow it wouldn't be the national tragedy that it would have been previously.
Don't get me wrong - I am still human - if my closet were to get wiped out (again) tomorrow..I would not be a happy camper. I am not a saint! But I also have a teeny tiny perspective that there is more to life than that.
Namely, my relationship with my husband...irreplaceable.
My friends. Those who have stuck with them through the last 4 toughest years of my life. They know who they are. I love them each so much for their support & love.
My family - my brother specifically --- who made the first foray down to our house in Slidell with Matt to evaluate the damage. It's a good thing he doesn't read this blog, b/c if he did, he would vehemently deny it, but the boy cried when he saw our neighborhood and the state of our house. And bawled when the Red Cross Truck came by to give them rations while they were cleaning up.
My Dad, who wanted so desperately to help Matt make the inaugural trip back but couldn't -- so instead loaded him up with a shot gun and various types of shells for the "just in case". And stayed glue to the television for days and days to give up updates.
My mom, who was our support system at home. Who was still not only worried for Matt & I's home but obviously and rightfully so, way more concerned about the health of her brother (who chose to stay behind in Covington, LA at the family house) --- I can't remember now how many days it was until we heard he was okay... but it was days. He literally had to chop tree after tree after tree by hand to make it to the main road to let his family know he was ok.
That's real life.
The rest, is just really secondary. And really really really secondary.
Matt and I were driving to dinner tonight and talking the usual "can you believe it's been 4 years?" talk.. It's usually talk like "wow, can you believe it's been 7 1/2 years since we met?" or 1 1/2 year since you quit the bank?" or "wow, it's been 6 days since we've..."
well... you get the picture :)
But tonight was poignant. Not sad. But poignant.
I pray so much for those other families who are still recovering and haven't found the peace in their situation. I ask that God continues to give them grace, strength and fortitude to make it through the darkness.
I could write a book on how blessed we were that the chips fell where they did. We weren't like everyone. But in many ways, we were just like everyone.
We just came away differently. Life is so unfair in many ways.
But for us... unfair worked out just right :) We are right where we need to be. I can finally say that with full thankfulness, passion and without regret or longing.
So, I won't wish everyone a Happy Katrina Anniversary, cause that's kind of tacky - but more of a blessing for you all still struggling - may today be a day where you can celebrate the successes, even the smallest of ones, laugh at the messes, cheers to survival, and prayers for a better year to come. And I also pray, that one year, hopefully in the near future, I won't glance at the calendar and see the date of Aug. 29th and obviously shudder. May we all respect the date, but here's to hoping that one day the reaction will not be so visceral but one of an "awww" moment. That's going to take time. and probably even more time after that.
But on that note, I have to go pull out my bread to "stale" overnight - in honor of the anniversary, I am going to attempt my first bread pudding - a classic New Orleans dish. Wish me luck!
Hugs & laissez les bons temps roulez,