Loss. It’s so hard. We’ve lost everything we’ve owned before. It’s shocking. Numbing. A devastation that makes you feel like that dream of walking naked into school as a kid is your new reality. The vulnerability that comes with needing so much help, so much care, so much attention.
I remember sitting in the wrecked remnants of our house in Sulphur, LA surrounded by black leaf bags full of our wet, mildewed, debris covered lives. The comforter in our master bedroom was satin with spots of embroidery every here and there. I loved that thing. I had just hung photos on our walls only to remove them days later when we learned we had a hurricane heading our way. We packed up our photos, important papers, and kid’s beloved luvies, and left our home.
We never returned to live in it again. The boys haven’t been in it since the evacuation more than a decade ago now.
I can still smell the pungent odor of our decaying lives. I can feel the slime, the coating of outside that came to dwell on the parts of the house that remained standing, beneath my fingers.
I vividly remember sitting in our living room, looking at the sky through what used to be the ceiling and roof, holding Micah’s blue bunny (whom he called “Hop hop”), and I could hear his little voice and see his bright red hair flipping up and down as he toddler-skipped down the hall holding his bunny by his ears. I put it in the black bag nearest me as the tears spilled over.
It was days of cleaning out. Hours of trying to decide what was salvageable and what was not. Weeks of the reality of the loss setting in more and more deeply. We lived in my parents house for 3 months. We had a mattress-less crib and toddler bed, the photos and papers we removed before we left, the clothes we packed into suitcases, and our wedding china, though it was badly cracked from the force of the tree landing on our house. Nearly everything else was ruined. We cleaned what we could, which wasn’t much.
I returned to the house a few days later and rummaged through bags pungent from sitting sealed in wet and heat to pull a dilapidated blue “Hop hop” out of the trash. I soaked him in multiple concoctions before he was finally free of the reeking smell of hurricane Rita.
Funny what you cling to when everything is in ruins.
I made meticulous lists of each item destroyed and carefully tallied up the monetary value of our lives. The sum was meager.
We had next to nothing when we moved from Louisiana to Texas. Some hand me down furniture and things we were given by people. We slept on the floor in our rental home for a few days while we searched for a mattress we could afford. Our kitchen was avocado green. A bar covered in straw was attached to the dining room. Metallic wall paper covered the walls of the entryway.
It’s so foreign and so fresh all at once to me.
I’m a Louisiana girl. I’ve lived in Texas a decade now, and I still haven’t adjusted. I don’t know that I ever will. Louisiana is a unique sort of place with a life pace I dearly miss. The widespread devastation that my beloved state is experiencing and the kind of big love and compassion everyone there is expressing to each other is what I was raised in, and I will always be grateful. Right now, I’m sitting in the comfort of a friend’s home in Texas, rain falling all around me. I’m content and not afraid of what the rain will bring. I’m not stuck in a church gym or old theater or empty store. I’m not sleeping on a cot, unshowered for days. I’m not without comfort, without a home, without insurance to cover repairs, without a vehicle, phone, clothing…just without.
The people who have lost every single thing they’ve ever earned woke up this morning, once again, to a new and frightening reality of without. They’ll do the same tomorrow. Many of them don’t know how long they will exist in this state of being. They have a lot of waiting and working to do before they have things we all consider needs for ourselves. We live in a privileged society, and it’s so easy to blind ourselves to the suffering around us. This one is so, so obvious, though. And so near to many of us. Today is a really good day to dust the entitlement off of our shoulders, wipe the film of greed off of our glasses, and look around at the people living without what we consider to be our “right” as humans to have…food, clothing, and shelter. If you’re human, then you have a role to play in this. Pray. Contact. Ask. Give. Give money. Give time. Give what you can to who you know to help the thousands of people you don’t know. Some day, maybe years from now, you will be without something or someone. You will be in pain and need to know that someone out there sees you and cares. Be the person to someone else today that you will want someone to be to you in your moment of brokenness. And don’t wait. For heaven’s sakes. Don’t put off helping feed and clothe the souls around you. You aren’t in your human shell to do nothing. Don’t do nothing.
“And the crowds asked him, ‘What then shall we do?’ And he answered them, ‘Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.'” Luke 3:10-11
If you want to help and aren’t sure where to start, click on these links. There are several places listed where you can get involved in whatever way you can and helpful tips on what things are and are not needed:
This is a personal friend. I can assure you that whatever you give him will be put to good use. He’s just recently made it out of the shelter he was calling home and into the home of a friend, and is (as he has been already) actively helping those around him. He’s just that kind of human: