Archive for Thursday, September 8, 2011

Storm miles away strengthens bonds between family, friends

September 8, 2011

Many of us have had friends or family in harm’s way recently. Even those of us who were not television watchers were glued to CNN or other news channels, charting the wind, rain and eye of Hurricane Irene as it coursed its way up the Eastern Seaboard.

For me, a niece and her family were vacationing in North Carolina. We touch base often, and a few days before the storm were catching up on family news — one of those breezy, light days of our lives kind of conversations; news of kids, grandkids, walks along the beach, that sort of thing.

Within hours now it seems, our text messages and cell phones were in hot pursuit of the hurricane quickly developing along the southern edge of the coastline. Are you OK?

We are fine. And then: We are leaving, mandatory evacuation.

And the mind kicks into high gear; tracing the roadways and path of the storm. Try to find a decent map. Everyone either uses GPS, Internet or cell phone. I just wanted an old, reliable, readable map I could hold in my hands. If I couldn’t hold them, then I wanted to hold a map and trace their journey.

And then there was Mary Alice, a high school classmate. She grew up here in Bonner; her folks owned the original Dari Dine and an appliance store on Second Street. Her mother gave me one of my first jobs. Mary Alice is a designer and artist. She lives in New York, survived 9/11 and 12 days ago was in the path of the hurricane.

It is in one of those moments, when people you love are in harm’s way and you are entirely helpless to do anything, that you are smacked straight in the face with the fragility of life and your powerlessness to get between impending danger and the ones you love.

You realize also our dependence upon the electronic devices that keep us connected. Deep within your soul, you sense the connectedness that has held you together over time and space, and you fear someplace deep within you that the connectedness could be broken by forces beyond your control.

Early Sunday morning, Aug. 28, the emails came, describing the wind, rain-drenching, pounding rain, electrical outages, and wind, everywhere wind. You go off to church with a knot in your stomach. You pray hard for the safety of those you love, and those you may never meet, that all will be safe and make it through.

Just as suddenly as the wind and rain ravaged the coastline, you get an email that all is well. All is well. Those of us who had loved ones in the path of the storm send emails and text messages furiously back and forth; they are filled with relief and gratitude.

And once again, we are reminded how very brief the course of life can be, how fragile it can seem, but how strong and unbreakable are the bonds that hold us together.


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