Racing through the daily grind of work and life, I forgot to stop to smell the roses, or cat litter as you’ll soon understand what I mean. Then came Superstorm Sandy, and like so many thousands of families, we lost our home and are now faced with months of rebuilding.
Family took us in during the storm, but a few weeks after the disaster we needed to move back - closer to our house, school and work. My husband had been staying with neighbors while he gutted the home and they generously offered to take in our two cats, two dogs, four-year-old and a work-at-home mom (that would be me). That same day our family moved in.
Although losing their own first floor heating, car, fencing, shed and a garage full of tools, our neighbors opened their dry doors to us. We moved in with some clothes, a few toys and my traveling home office. We immediately returned to our hectic life, diving into a busy schedule of meetings, bedtime stories and walks with the dogs. Life, in many ways, was back to normal.
Then one evening when scooping cat litter, the floodgates opened. I cried for what seemed like hours while my cats stared at me. The very room where my kitties found refuge and warmth was once the bedroom of the family’s son Jesse.
This sweet boy boasted the largest smile and biggest spirit; he brought unimaginable joy to their lives. I looked around the room. It had barely been touched since he passed away three years ago - same bed, same toys, same shoes. The room was a shrine to this beautiful boy with cerebral palsy.
It was then that I realized I was so wrapped up in Sandy and returning to “normal” to notice that the house we were living in was still grieving. If our neighbors were able to find the strength to open their hearts and home, share their dinners, make steaks for our dogs, and bring laughter to our son’s face, I would put down the litter scooper and be grateful for what life has given us - the highs and the lows.
Sandy has taught my displaced family much about life. After all, we have each other, our dreams, our health, and thanks to our neighbors, we now have the strength to rebuild.
Be vulnerable to your moments and emotions. Sandy may just open up your floodgates and your family may find hope in tragedy. Today, when someone asks me the inevitable question, “When do you think you’ll be moving back into your home?” I answer, “Not sure, but we’re moving along nicely with a little help from friends.”