Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bad Day

This blog was purely created out of necessity today.  I don't know how often I will use it, but today I just need to write it out.

The reason that the description of the blog states, "unspoken thoughts" is because the things that I write here are unspoken.  I've voiced many things about my experience with the storm, but most people that I talk to are people who were affected just as badly and worse than I was.  No one wants to hear the sob story any more.  For God's sake, it's been 6 1/2 years.  But still, there are things that haunt me that I just don't talk about to those I know.  I don't know if it's because it's just too hard to verbalize, or because I just don't want them to join in my pain. 

Just to give a hint of what we (my family/friends/community) endured, we lost a lot.  There was 14 feet of water in my family's neighborhood alone.  The water stood for about 2 weeks.  All that came out were a few pieces of jewelry and some glass things that were still stained by the murky, stagnant water.  We lost our community and everything that was familiar.  Everyone in the parish was spread far and wide across the country, just trying to find refugee, a safe and quiet, dry, clean place, where we could sit in awe in front of TV sets for days, watching broadcast after broadcast of the devastation that had occurred.  A place where we could huddle together and let the enormity of what had taken place seep, painfully into our minds.  A place where we could talk and cry and then gain a stiff upper lip in order to plan what we HAD to do to start picking up the pieces. 

There was no time for weakness.  Life continues after a devastating event.  Bills continue to come, new stuff had to be bought to replace the old stuff, we still had to eat, had to bathe, had to find jobs, had to make doctors appointments, had to keep our minds busy, but all was much harder than it had been, seeing that the bills had no house to go to, the doctors that we once knew were washed away with the rest of us, and we didn't have a permanent residence, so finding a job and trying to promise them a certain amount of employment time was difficult.  We didn't know where we would end up.

Things happened after the storm, that never would have happened before. Strengths were gained and found, that were out of pure necessity.  It was a time for survival and boy, did that instinct kick in. It wasn't always pretty though.  Living arrangements were tight.  My family was fortunate enough to find a house about an hour away from our devastated town.  It was just a place for us all to take refuge until we figured out what to do.  It was a two bedroom house, with one bath and there was 11 of us.  It was nice, since everyone was there, able to lean on each other's shoulders.  We were there about 2 weeks, when my dad found an apartment even closer to "home" for our part of the family.  So, we packed up what little we had and moved again. This time, there were 6 of us in a 3 bedroom apartment, Mom and Dad, my brother, my boyfriend, myself and my dad's mom, my grandmother, whom we called Nanie.... that is where today comes in.

I dreamt about Nanie last night.  She was the kindest soul that I've ever known.  Not longer after we moved into the apartment, she was diagnosed with lung cancer.  This was her second bout with cancer; the first time, it was breast cancer.  She was sick and had lost her home and her independence in the storm.  She was living with us, not able to make a move without my parents watching her closely.  God bless them, they were doing what they felt was right, keeping her within eyesight, but she told me how much she missed being able to be independent. 

My mom kept up with all of her doctor's appointments, helped her bathe and go to the bathroom and when the time came, my mom learned how to change the urine bag, when sitting on the toilet was no longer an option.  It wasn't easy and it wasn't pretty.  Nanie did not want to go through the rigorous chemotherpy and radiation treatments that she had endured 20 years earlier during her trial with breast cancer. 

In the midst of all that was happening, my own emotions in a tangled web of grief that I was pushing aside to be strong, Nanie asked me to help her place an order of flowers for my mom, to show her how much she appreciated everything that my mom did for her.  I helped her place the order, put it on my credit card and the flowers never came.  Nanie was very disappointed and I was as well.  It was a stressful situation, trying to contact the flower company and have the money reimbursed.  I know that I was short with Nanie, when normally I wouldn't have been.  It wasn't her fault. 

I woke up this morning thinking about her, because I had dreamt about looking through her things in her empty house and I began thinking about how I wish that I could have been more helpful in that situation and more understanding and not so short.

She passed away 4 months later.  I still regret it.  I'm trying to forgive myself, knowing everything that I was going through at that point, but it's not easy. 

In any case, I'm feeling down because of it today.   Writing it out has made it less of a burden though.  I think this could be a good thing to keep up, whenever the stupid storm stuff starts wearing on me.