November 2, 2012
With Hurricane Sandy blowing through the Northeast, I couldn’t help remembering another hurricane that touched the U.S. four years ago. And on Tuesday morning when I called my mother, the designated point person to relay news about my sister (who lives in that part of the country,) my mom reminded me of that fall of 2008.
“Who knew that you’d get another hurricane with Ike?” she asked with a chuckle.
“I know,” I said with a laugh of my own.
She’s referring to Four. About two months after Four came along, my family packed up everything we could and evacuated our home in anticipation of Hurricane Ike creating the same conditions in the Houston area that Sandy has in New York City.
In the summer of 2008 we experienced several major life changes: a new job, a cross-country move, and a new baby.
Most people prefer to go through life changes one at a time. We like to live dangerously.
My husband found himself dealing with a new training program and a working culture drastically different from the one he’d just left for his residency. Six (who was only two at the time) became a big sister. And I tried to navigate a new city and claw my way out of the post-partum blues that bordered on depression.
I’d just gotten my head on straight after having the baby when we got news of Hurricane Ike heading our way. Ike hit early on a Saturday morning. Oddly enough, despite my experience growing up in a coastal town, until Wednesday of that week I really didn’t take Ike seriously. But that morning as I watched the news, I suddenly realized that maybe we should take the storm seriously.
My husband and father-in-law had never gone through a hurricane before, and they decided we wouldn’t take any chances. We took all of our brand new furniture that we’d bought just three months earlier and carried it to the second floor of the house we’d just had built two months earlier. We packed up our valuables, took a long look around, and drove in the early morning darkness of Friday to a friends’ home located further inland.
We found some solace in going to stay with our friends. Safety in numbers and all that jazz. Us women spent all of Friday cooking foods that we knew would stand up without a fridge, and the guys visited the closest drug store and bought four huge tubs. They filled all four of them with water and also filled both bathtubs in the apartment with water, just to be on the safe side. Our friends, newlyweds, were gracious in opening their home to us. Not everyone wants to share space with three additional adults, a toddler, and a newborn.
The seven of us spent the day trying to distract ourselves from the storm headed our way. We watched movies and chatted nonstop throughout the afternoon. In the evening, in an attempt to sway our attention away from the endless news and weather reports that become an addiction during these events, my husband and I showed the newlyweds our own wedding albums. We’d packed those in addition to everything else we brought with us.
That night I lay on the floor on a mattress with a baby Four, who slept through the wind that sounded like an intense high-speed train would rip right through the walls at any time. As rain lashed the windows and reminded us that only a foolish man would forget how powerful nature can become, I prayed fervently. I had slept through hurricanes before, but I’d never found myself on the parent side of things. Imagining what might happen to my children in the absolute worst scenarios scared me more than I’d ever felt before.
We eventually left Houston for a couple of weeks and went to stay with my parents while the initial cleanup began on the Gulf Coast. It gave me time to reassure myself that I wouldn’t, in fact, have to go through the hurricane alone. Because even though family and friends surrounded me when the storm assaulted the gulf, the post-pregnancy hormonal changes assaulting my body convinced me I was all alone.
Like I said, we like to live dangerously.
Today as we watch the news of Hurricane Sandy, our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to those who have to endure these days of hardship. I know how you feel. I’ve lived in your blackout homes with the loudness of the hurricane followed by the eerie quiet that settles on a city after the storm has passed and unleashed its wrath on man-made structures and accomplishments. I’ve felt your fear and cried your tears. And I hope you come through this stronger and better because of it.
And maybe, nine months from now, we’ll see the births of many more “hurricanes.”