After The Storm
And after the storm,
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up,
On my knees and out of luck,
I look up.
Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won't rot, I won't rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won't rot.
And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall,
And remembered our own land,
What we lived for.
But there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
What day is this?
Last Friday, Hurricane Harvey made landfall leaving behind massive destruction. An unfeeling storm propelled by unfeeling elements as homes and businesses were blown away upon impact, as waters rose and rose and rose, as lives were lost. Millions of lives forever changed.
I remember looking out the passenger side window during our drive back through Houston after Ike. Our stunned silence, heavy and loud. We'd boarded and sandbagged and evacuated. As transplants, we'd never been through a hurricane. Many folks left. Some folks stayed. Debris was everywhere. An ambiguous word seeming to describe some little pile of dirt on the floor, easy to sweep under some rug. The debris was enough to fill 7.5 football stadiums - that is 25 million yards of debris - some little pile. The wind was brutal in its ravage of this city we'd barely gotten to know. Rooftops mangled. Trees uprooted. Windows busted. Power out for thousands, for weeks. As we passed Minute Maid Park, Joe signaled to no-one as we switched lanes towards I-45 South. A radio voice spoke of a little beacon of light shining from this one street in Clear Lake - the power somehow still on.
Hey, that was us! Our street. Our Bibby Lane on the Bayou.
I remember the light from those same street lamps, beside our house, their midnight reflection blurring in the water pooled at our front door. That day in May, the rain just wouldn't stop. The urge to puke flushes through your entire body before the adrenaline kicks in. All you can say to yourself is, "This is happening." Then you become a flurry of action. We piled stuff on top of toppling-over piles of stuff trying to spare what we could from the gasoline-mixed, muddy water a half-foot up our walls.
Eight days ago, the water was once again up to our doorstep. My husband came into our bedroom to whisper in my ear, "Heather, it's time." I had been sitting on the side of the bed, both my children beside each other under the covers. My daughter wouldn't let me let go of her hand. We'd hunkered down in the hallway a few times already, tornado warnings. One sighted in Galveston. One sighted in Webster. As my son protectively spoke to his little sister for distraction, I went to our front door and looked out. "Joe," my pitch in calm resign of familiar dread, "this is happening."
Those next days - after Ike, after our first flood - because next days do come - what I remember the most is the people. I can see them still. After Ike, in the parking lot, the VP of the company I worked for, along with several employees, loading generators into cars and trucks of folks lined up for help. Neighbors sawing, raking, stacking, tying debris in neighbor's yards before returning to their own to repeat the exhaustive process. Then years later, the morning after our May flood, co-workers and friends who showed up on our doorstep at break of day, not having been asked. Dropping off food. Dropping off contacts for clean-up and rebuild. Thoughts our minds couldn't yet compute. "What can we do? Tell me where to go." The minutes mattered despite the madness and the many hands made haste. The generous uninvited sticking around to pack up our entire home in only one day to move us out.
So what day is this - this second of September 2017?
Today is a day of love in motion. People poetry. A monumental community response because "this is still happening." The need so tremendous, so utterly overwhelming. Tomorrow the bitter taste of adrenaline will still drive thousands, millions to bless each other. It is said, "only in the dark can you see the stars." What magnificent Twinkles.
Nature, weather, come what may, we can't control that. But the people, my God, the people running towards "What can I do, how can I help?" Rampant structural, physical, emotional, spiritual damage and wounds. The people of this city, our city we now know well and call home; these people are strong. They are warriors fighting for each other. They are survivors fighting for themselves. They are mighty of heart and steadfast in soul.
They are what is most beautiful about humanity.
There are countless known stories of help; strangers now neighbors, folks from all over the world. We are seeing and hearing and reading about them every hour. And what of the countless unknown stories of help; thousands of stories we'll never see or hear or read about. They are out there. Still happening.
The sun came out on Wednesday.
Not a mocking sun but one of tender Hope.
In honesty, the sun was already out. The power of the people are its beams. Their shine and warmth, compassion and willingness will always be felt as the beacon of light on these streets and throughout this City on the Bayou.