This is the second time I have been out of the country when tragedy struck my beautiful city. I was away on 9/11, and again now during Superstorm Sandy. Some may consider being out of New York during those events a blessing, but it is my home and the only place I want to be when my family, friends, neighbors and loved ones need me.
It breaks my heart to be away from home, powerless and unable to get back (whether it be due to weather or lack of available flights) to the people and the city that I love so much. Watching these horrific tragedies on television from across an ocean is almost unbearable. I have been fortunate enough to have gotten through, at long last, to family and friends; but it is not the same as seeing them with your own eyes and knowing firsthand that the people you hold dear are safe and sound.
One of the things I love most about New York is the way we all pull together in hard times. We are known for it! New Yorkers are tough! We have to be... But the great part about that is that we are tough when we need to be as well. And, right now, we need to be!
The amazing thing that I have noticed about these two horrific events is the way they seem to have brought so many people together. The one -- and, perhaps, only -- advantage to being so far away in a crisis is that you get to see the beauty in others, too. Everyone here knows I am from New York, and they stop me constantly to check on me and ask how I am, how my family is, and the state of things at home. These are total strangers in a foreign country that do not know me at all but, as soon as they realize I am American, they offer words of support and encouragement. The same was true when I was away after 9/11 and unable to return home for several days. There was such an outpouring of kindness and emotion from strangers that it almost made me feel like I was home. Don't get me wrong, I still wanted to click the heels of my ruby slippers three times because there really is no place like home, but for now, I will have to rely on the kindness of strangers.
It is an incredible thing to feel that unconditional love and support from people all around the world. It reminds us of our common bond -- our basic humanity. Despite whatever chaos exists in the world, when you get right down to it, we are all human and we all understand what it is to suffer and how important it is to support one another in times of need.
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