In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, here on Long Island, we all recognize the heroes who came to our aid. The firemen who worked for days on end, carrying homebound people down numerous flights of stairs; the police officers who kept us safe at darkened intersections, patrolled our gas lines while people were losing their sanity and protected the worst areas from looting. There were the linemen, working night and day to get almost every single home on Long Island out of the dark. Whether we agree with LIPA's response or not, we can't ignore the countless numbers of men and women who worked, day and night, in bad weather, to get us back in power. All while many of these firemen, officers and linemen went home to their own dark and cold homes, wondering when their own power could get turned back on. But what about the everyday people?
We lost power in my home for two days. At five months pregnant, this was the end of the world for me. It was cold, I couldn't take a warm shower and what would I eat?? We filled a cooler with milk, yogurts, and enough chicken for dinner, and we figured out how to cook an entire meal on the BBQ. All in all, it wasn't so bad, actually. We played board games and lit candles (my boyfriend will never again pick on me for my scented candle addiction), and it only lasted two days. Now, I look at my coworkers, friends and the strangers on the news who are still suffering and I think -- what was I crying about??
I cannot begin to imagine losing my home or my car or having sewage in the streets, much less in my house. I look at those who are still, weeks later, pumping water out of their homes and I think, these people are heroes, too. These brave men and women, with babies and young children or elderly to care for, who are forced into overcrowded shelters, their clothing, diapers, medication all destroyed, and counting on the kindness and genourosity of others to help them get back onto their feet. How do you explain to your 7-year-old that everything they own is gone forever? And to the children who go to school every day now, knowing it's the only warm place they'll get to be all day. Of course, we are all happy to be alive, to have our loved ones to still come home to at the end of the day. But it would be nice to have that home to go to. When I look back at the events of this forceful, tragic storm and I think of bravery and fearlessness, these are the people that I think of and admire. We all have fears, it's human nature. But at the end of the day, how we respond to adversity is when we see the true measure of ourselves and our neighbors. It's when we learn just how strong and courageous we really are and how much we can make it through when the you-know-what hits the fan. Or our streets and our homes.
In one of my favorite scenes from the movie Clueless, Alicia Silverstone's character, Cher, is donating her skis to the Pismo Beach Disaster Relief Fund. When her father tells her that he doesn't think they need her skis, Cher's somewhat misguided but heartfelt response was, "Daddy, some people lost all their belongings. Don't you think that includes athletic equipment?" Let's not forget that, while the storm may be in the past, it is still very present for many and donations are still needed. Maybe not your skis, but a few bars of soap, cleaning products, winter coats, blankets, diapers, cereal, etc. It all goes a long way, and can remind us what's really important in life and the things we all tke for granted every day. After all, isn't pulling together when times are tough what fearlessness is all about?
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