Friday, September 02, 2005

Happy Birthday

Today is my 53 rd birthday and I am glad to still be around to celebrate.

I have received greetings from my online friends as wells as family.I am amazed am humbled by the kind thoughts and wishes.
Dan's Nanacast at is very touching that he would put so much thought and planning from a simple phone conversation with Keisha.

The song he chose " has anyone seen my gal" was so appropriate for my life.

I have received calls from a couple of new friends as well which was so thoughtful.

I never have made a big deal of my birthday; growing up it wasn't always a pleasant day.After I was married it was never a special day.
So this attention being called to myself is somewhat uncomfortable yet appreciated.

Bob had cards placed around the house with gifts attached that I have discovered throughout the day. He too, was so thoughtful.

The day is overshadowed however by the tragedy unfolding this week in the Gulf Coast and New Orleans in particular.
There are images that we will take to our graves as we do every disaster we witness.
I am traumatized in some ways by reliving my own experience when I flooded and lost everything.
And what I went through was nothing compared to what some of these people suffered this week.

What you don't get from TV is the smell of polluted water, the stench of rotting everything, the smell of death that you can't escape from.The feel of the slimy, oily water filled with human and animal feces rubbing against your skin, the snakes and fire ants balled up floating toward anything they can attach to and if its you -beware.The feel of the force of water straining against you as you try to wade through it when its chest deep and its crushing your lungs.
To try to hold on to a family member because if you let go they will be swept away and die and the dread and guilt that accompanies it.The psche is affected because as a parent you should have prevented your child somehow from being in this peril and you are powerless to change the moment.
You don't hear the eerie silence as death of the area is slowly enveloping the area you once called home. You can't hear the silence of no birds in the air, no dogs barking, no children laughing, no traffic moving.
The silence is deafening.

You don't see, hear, know the thoughts of someone as they are in that desperate situation.You only think you know what they might be thinking.

The TV cannot capture the range of emotions one goes through but the reporters try.
As you are first entering into that situation there is the adreneline rush just to survive it.
In my case leading my family to where I just knew help would be available to find no one was there.
What do you do? You are soaked, you are exhausted,you are shocked but yet you have to plod on.
The desperation and despair kicks in and as a parent you attempt to stay strong, to put on a front you are in control when all around you is out of control.
No, TV does not show you these images because it can't.
I thought I knew before i myself was a victim and my lesson was to learhn i didn't know anything.I could only imagine it until then.

I will never remember reentering my house after 5 days of it being under water and the destruction was unbelievable.
The first words I spoke was " we are one of them now"'.
Thats when the gravity and seriousness hit and the denial was over.We had no home to go home to at that point. We were homeless.
Life as we knew it was over.Everything was gone.
All we were left with was memories.

How blessed was I that I could rebuild and had resources available to me that in a relatively short time I was able to rebuild our lives.Not the one we had but a different one.

There were complications and we ended up in a class action law suit.Out of 10 families we went through the experience together only one couple is still together today and they separated for a year.

But I didn't end up clawing my way out of the attic and waiting on a rooftop for 5 days waiting to be rescued.
I had water to drink and food to eat by the end of the day.
I had the ability to obtain dry clothes.
I did not have family members missing and no way to know if they survived.I was able to use a telephone.
I was white and I lived in suburban America.

If anyone wants to believe there isn't a connection to the poorest of the poor and racism and a political lethargy involved in what happened to those left behind in New Orleans they are badly mistaken.

Was it intentional?/ I don't think so.I think it was white America not being in tune with the horrendous ramifications of the presence and futility of what the majority of impoverished, black America deals with daily.
We turn our heads when something is unpleasant.It takes time for us to warm up to the idea that there is ugliness around us.

History will show that the ones who escaped early had means to do so.Those that were left behind were expendable.
They most likely weren't registered voters; They took from society instead of contiributed and did it for generations.
They may have been socially irresponsible. They may have been fiscally irresponsible.
They were human beings though and that fact wasn't important enough to those who made decisions along the way.

For years New Orleans was known to be in danger of this catastrophe.Less and less money was given for the projects needed to avoid this tragedy.
How many bombs did it take dropped on Iraq that could have paid for a better levee system?

How much more do the troops from that region have to suffer? They are defending their homeland as they wonder about their homes back home and their families.

Had they been on friendly soil doing their everyday jobs they would have been available to call up on short notice to keep order and perform search and rescue.

The human toll is priceless; the dollar toll will be astronomical.

If you think this will go away easily I am here 11 years later reliving my persoanl experience.What about the children from this disaster? What toll is on them that won't surface for years?

I hope everyone contributes in every way possible to the relief effort and beyond.
If there was a cake available for me to blow out candles today my wish would be we learn all the lessons this disaster gives the opportunity to teach.

But for the grace of God there goes I.
My mother used to teach that and I think its very appropriate that I honor her today with the words that were ingrained into me at an early age.
But for the grace of God, there goes I.

No comments: