I’m writing this morning from a warm apartment 200 miles away from my home. Our house is fine. We are the lucky ones. The winds were terrifying. They took down a power line and set a tree on fire outside our front door, but the moment of terror was just that, a moment. The rain that I feared flooding our very leaky house did not come. We were largely spared.
Our only real struggle is that we’re on day five without power and The Husband’s work building is closed because of flooding and power outages, but the work has not stopped. So, we packed up the family and headed south the Maryland for electricity and warmth. We are so fortunate to have a port in the storm. My sister generously shoved us all in her tiny apartment and made my kids feel like they were on vacation. Everything here is great.
So why do I want nothing more than to go back? I walked around last night with everyone going about their regular lives here and I felt so confused as to how they could just be having dinner and meeting friends for drinks. How could it all be regular here, just a short drive away?
The devastation around our home is unimaginable. It’s far more than trees down and wires across the road. Whole towns are gone. Literally, erased from the map. You can not find power for most of the state. There is nowhere to go for heat or food and for many people, going anywhere isn’t even an option. As I told my husband, I have never known the real meaning of the word devastation until Tuesday morning.
Four years ago, when I was a stranger in a strange land, the one bit of peace I counted on was in a place called Sea Bright. I took my kids there nearly every day. I’m reminded how young they were by the fact that they have no real memories of this time, but to me Sea Bright and the few hours of calm it brought me every day are forever etched in my brain. The public beach was a safe haven, a familiar spot in my otherwise unfamiliar days. The drive to Sea Bright was the only one I made with confidence. I got lost going almost everywhere else but the nearly straight line to the ocean was always one I could manage.
Sandy tried to take away Sea Bright, and Spring Lake, and our family beach in Long Branch, and the kids’ favorite play-place, Jenkinson’s in Point Pleasant. Sandy took houses away from our neighbors and shut stores and stole power from nearly all of New Jersey and much of New York. The irony is that I wasn’t totally aware of it all until I got out. I heard stories. I got some phone calls with spotty information of floods and evacuations. I saw with my own eyes much of our north shoreline, but I had no idea the magnitude until I left.
And now I want to go back. I want to go home and help. I want to drive around Maryland today loading up on non-perishables and water. I want to go home and deliver it to my neighbors and friends along with warm meals or extra blankets. I want to do my part to help rebuild. Because while Maryland is my port in the storm, Jersey has become our home. And we’re needed at home. Because if I’ve learned nothing, it’s that our new home is full of strong people and a remarkable human spirit. I’m so blessed to be a part of this place. I’m sure it will return to its glory and I can’t wait to help the process begin.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.