Friday, June 02, 2006

I'm reading a book about the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. Isaac's Storm. About 2/3 of the way through right now and it's interesting. It brings to mind Isabel. Hurricane Isabel, which made the news out here about the same way as the Cedar Fires made the news back East. At least, in the affected areas.

Isabel. I'm always going to remember that one. It was the scariest hurricane I ever saw. We weren't even in the worst path of it. But we were hit by the side, and that was plenty for me. A coworker of mine didn't have part of his house when it was over. When the rain and wind stopped there were trees down everywhere. We had no power for close to two days. The fortunate thing at our apartment complex was that the trees that came down came down parallel to the buildings and lots. They fell across the yards, and the stairs. Not the cars, not the walls. When the sun came out again we heard chainsaws, and knew that it was over. Except for the cleanup.

The day Isabel came to town we had just been reunited. The Boy flew back from basic training the night before. We were going to get married. Got the license first thing in the morning. The courthouse was closing and sending everyone home at that point. The rain was beginning as we pulled back into the parking lot at home.

Next week, when the waters had mostly abated from most of the state, we were married under clear blue skies. Nothing but blue skies. All I could see, washed clean for us. That's pretty sappy... but that's what hurricanes have come to mean to me. That when it was over we called our parents to tell them that we were still alive. That we had power again. That the car was okay, and that we didn't have flooding where we were, and that it was alright.

Isaac's Storm was ten times worse, at the very least. They didn't have doppler radar or satellites. They didn't even have knowledge that it was coming before it was there. These sort of tragedies didn't only happen in the past, and they're not new things even though the media seems to think that every tsunami and typhoon and earthquake is the worst. That's one of the reasons that I'm so fascinated with the pandemic of 1918. Can we learn anything at all from the past disasters? I'm inclined to think so. I don't mean by way of planning ahead or anything like that, although we did learn an awful lot about construction techniques, and fire safety codes, and that sort of thing. I'm talking about the human spirit and how we survive these events. How do we pick up the pieces of our lives and go on? How do we rebuild?

My Boy could be killed at any time. He is in a government-declared combat zone. The odds are that given his occupation and vicinity, that he'll come home safely to me. He could also be blown to kingdom come without much warning and the first I'll know of it will be a knock on the door. He could also be hit by a bus crossing the street. I wouldn't stop existing. I would want to stop existing, but I wouldn't. I have a child to care for, I have a life to continue. These are the lessons that I'm taking from history. This is how I go on. Just like every sailor's wife that ever lived. Wartime or peacetime, there are a thousand things that can go wrong out there. Instead of walking the shore looking out to sea I pace along our windows and look up to the stars. I check my email a dozen times a day. I'm online from the minute I wake up to the last second before I go to sleep at night. And I go on.

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