It was covered in sewage, raw, strong, dank. The armchairs in different rooms, the refrigerator blocking the kitchen door, so that I climbed over it, like a child scaling his pillow-built mountain. No lights, no air, bugs trudging on every surface. Bloated fish bodies scattered about. My little yellow house, drowned in the waters of Hurricane Katrina. The Mississippi Gulf Coast devastated, hours/days before the levee gave way in New Orleans bringing the tragedy to national attention. In Mississippi, we still thank Robin Roberts for always mentioning on-air that Katrina hit Mississippi, that we needed rescue efforts too. I take the first piece out to the road. My friend Tammy comes to help me, brings Lee Anne, who I have only met one time. Hours we spend pulling debris from the muck only to pile it by the roadside. My baby girl's elmo couch, her toy bins all gone. There are closets so swollen that they will not open.
In the end, about 8 hours later, I can't do any more, one room is completely untouched, and it will be razed with the house. A SUV pulls up, and a lady stops to ask what she and her family could do. "We're done, but thanks." They are from some other state, came to help, offering water and food. I take it, too tired to even explain that I'm OK, I have plenty at the nursing home where I work. I just take it. She notices the child's stuff and asks how old my baby is. "Two and a half." She gives me a bear to give her. It is start her collection over, she tells me. I thank her. They drive away. Tammy and Lee Anne find something else to do while I sit in the road and cry.
I am lucky. My baby girl is safe and clean and hours away with my parents, who after nearly 40 years, lost all their stuff, every picture, every tangible memory they had, thirty miles West in another Mississippi Coast town. I have no idea how to start a life over at 29; how can they even begin at 58?
I lost all my stuff and none of my people. I am lucky.
Does God really want me to look at how I view my possessions this week? Didn't I learn this lesson, up close and personal already? I'm afraid the answers are no and yes, but not in that order.
Summer of 7 continues.