I cannot even wrap my head around the number of families who have lost everything to Harvey’s onslaught. I am surrounded by devastation as I sit in my minimally-affected apartment. To all of you, I want to say…
* I have been you.
* It will get better.
* Good can come out of the sorrow.
I clearly remember the day we moved into our new apartment with almost no belongings and exactly one piece of furniture. We’d lost pretty much everything and spent our first night lying on a blanket on the floor of an apartment with no electricity.
But we were both alive. We were together. We were going to make it.
I won’t lie to you. Every time I turned around in those early months I thought of yet another thing I would never see again and I’d hurt. I’d spend precious money on something I ought not have to be buying, and I’d get resentful. Christmas came around and I only got a tree and decorations because my boss pushed me to; I was glad I did.
But it did get better. As time went on, I discovered that my attitude was changing. I shifted from sternly telling myself, “Tammy, they’re only things!” to saying in wonder, “They really are only things!”
I’m not sure how to explain it, but at some point, maybe the next year, a day came when I realized I’d begun to feel positively liberated. As strange as it sounds, I’d been bound by stuff and had no idea. True, many of the things we lost represented memories, but a representative is not the memory itself-and the memories are still there.
Yes, I actually reached a place, after that forced downsizing, where I could feel grateful even for the loss. I… I can only explain it by saying I felt like I could breathe again-though I’d not known I was being suffocated at all.
When something similar happened a few years later, I walked down the same path again – hurt, anger, acceptance, forgiveness… This process has taught me that, as sure as we’ll one day cast aside our mortal bodies and not look back, we can have everything taken away from us here and come out better. I have – twice.
Well, I should qualify. With God, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, I have come out better. Without them, I don’t know what would have happened, but with them all things are truly possible.