When waters rise and spirits fall, you’ll listen anxiously to weather reports from your neighborhood.
You’ll watch angry waves swirling on the sacred ground of familiar streets.
You’ll feel a sickening, sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.
You’ll try to grasp fleeting thoughts of hope that maybe, just maybe, they’re all wrong. Surely it won’t be as bad, as devastating as they say.
You’ll try to overpower Mother Nature by sheer force of will.
But she is a determined and destructive houseguest.
You’ll understand futility.
You’ll go through motions, completing necessary tasks in response to catastrophe.
You’ll cry, feeling powerless to stop the bad.
You’ll cling to suitcases and bins full of hurriedly packed memories and moments.
You’ll struggle to explain what’s happening to your children, to explain it to yourself.
You’ll understand heartbreak; our treasures may be in Heaven, but the ones you’ve built on Earth are precious too.
You’ll walk through rooms that suddenly feel more like tombs than bedrooms.
You’ll close your eyes, hoping when you open them, it will have all been a mistake, just a bad dream.
You’ll understand despair; control is an illusion we depend on for survival, but it’s not ours to claim.
You’ll wonder how to put one foot in front of the other.
You’ll close the door on the before you took for granted and take your first steps in the after.
You’ll stay with family, maybe friends, maybe strangers—and wait.
You’ll watch the news with equal parts revulsion and fascination. You’ll feel a strange disconnect, knowing the reality on TV is your life, but not.
You’ll eat meals prepared by the Salvation Army, drink water supplied by the American Red Cross. You’ll realize, maybe for the first time in your life, how vital and life-giving their services and smiles are to weary, hurting souls.
You’ll understand a new kind of grief, allowing it appropriate space to breathe but not breed will become an important part of the after.
But, when the storm passes and water recedes and hope bubbles up—
You’ll see the task of recovery before you.
You’ll choose to rise to the challenge.
You’ll get to know the folks at FEMA, maybe the SBA.
You’ll draw strength from the shared experience of neighbors, friends, family, strangers.
You’ll pull on boots and rubber gloves and fortitude you didn’t know you possessed.
You’ll understand hard work. Recovery takes time and tests the patience and perseverance of even the strongest of souls.
You’ll fight with your spouse because you’ve never experienced this kind of stress.
You’ll hate yourself some days for the despair you let creep in.
You’ll wonder if you’ve lost your joy.
You’ll question how you’ll manage financially.
You’ll doubt your ability and desire to overcome.
You’ll understand hope; there’s laughter mixed with tears, and kindness—so much kindness—that flows from the hearts of others and from your own.
You’ll watch as months and years go by.
You’ll realize the sharp edges of sorrow dull with time.
You’ll never forget the before, but you’ll embrace the after.
You’ll live with newfound compassion.
You’ll suffer with those who suffer, rejoice with those who rejoice.
You’ll understand the human experience; every heart is fractured in some way, but still beating with purpose.