Sunday, September 04, 2005

New Orleans

Like countless others, I've had New Orleans on my mind quite a bit over the past week. Having spent a week there last summer, and remembering so well the vibrancy of the city, it's nearly impossible to imagine that she's an underwater ghost town now.

Before the evacuations started, I was thinking about how terrible it would be to be stuck in that Convention Center with Layth and Maya and unable to feed them or care for them properly. When I read that babies had indeed died, not because of injuries sustained by the hurricane, but because of the heat and the inability to feed them, I was heartsick. What a terrible set of circumstances to find yourself in, and to helplessly watch your baby die?

I was more frustrated than sympathetic with the victims in the beginning because of the ample warning to evacuate and their stubbornness in remaining behind. I'm still frustrated that so many more people could have gotten to safety than did, but I understand now that there were many people who had nowhere and no way to go.

I've read what these people have gone through, but I can only just begin to imagine what it must have been like. The physical discomfort, the anxiety about their homes and their belongings, precious photographs and family heirlooms lost forever, the stench of death, the heat and the press of the crowds, the fear for their personal safety as anarchy rose around them, the inability to communicate with loved ones ... and I can't dwell on it for more than a few moments without despairing for them, so I turn my mind from it and find other things to do, like count my blessings.

One thing that it has surprised me to learn after losing my daughters, is that as indescribably painful as that has been and still is, there are always people who have suffered as much or worse. I feel so deeply for them, and am reminded how lucky and blessed I still am.


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