Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mud = Hope = Change

My small little town was hit last week with a devastating flood. This is why I haven't posted anything in a while, sorry about that. Tree lined streets, everything in walking distance, a small little library, homes built over 100 years ago. This town is the place where I made over a decade of memories with all of my best friends who lived within blocks of my home. This is the place where I learned to ride a bike, swam daily at the public pool, drew my name in cement in front of the church, [which lead to my falling and spraining my ankle], walked the streets on Halloween and visited all of my neighbors and friends, played spin the bottle on half days, had my first kiss and listened to my friends talk about their first kisses, made a million teenage memories [some of those teenage memories I can't talk about because I would risk allowing my teenage son to know that I was from an angle]. This is the same town where my children and I live, where I have taken my son's trick or treating, taught both of them how to ride a bike and where I hope they enjoy making the same memories I have made in this small town.

Unfortunately the last week's flooding has left my small town looking more like a war zone. [I have walked around this neighborhood more than I have in the past 10 years] Trash, mud, sewage, houses in ruin. Anyone who lives in this valley and has seen the news has seen the pictures and interviews and it is not the pretty small town I am use to living in.

Through the toxic mud and garbage I also saw some amazing things. On my walks I have past the same homes with most of the same people still living in them and often heard " Hi Cathy, is everything ok?" and  "How are you and do you need anything?" and " Hey did you hear etc..." and lot's of positive thoughts and well wishes. I also heard and saw some amazing volunteer's whose efforts to help everyone is and was just amazing. I saw many of the children I use to see riding their bikes in town or walking home from school, now grown, helping their elderly parents dig out of the mud. What I felt was familiarity and comfort. The town may not look the same but it is still familiar and comforting. How could that be in this mess? This is what I came up with. Most things in life change. Change is actually the only thing in life that is a definite. Things have to change. So when you come across some things that haven't changed, it's familiar and to me familiarity brings comfort.

Change will occur around here, it is inevitable with the devastation that this town has faced. Homes and buildings are being deemed a total loss and not liveable, and so they will be destroyed. But will the people change, will they move [here comes the uncertainty]. Uncertainty breeds stress, worry etc... It can also bring excitement, optimism, and unity.

It's sad that it took this disaster for me to become more familiar with neighbors I did not know, or to stop and see how the "old timers" are doing, or to take those walks around town with my kids. Or to realize that age does not matter when it comes to finding comfort in your mom [thank God for my mom once again. My family including our dog was able to stay with her during the time we were evacuated] Or that holding on to my kids and being thankful for what I have means more than anything. While my home only had about 4 feet in my basement and the things we lost could easily be replaced, we are very LUCKY! [well lucky enough to need a new furnace and hot water heater But we did not have any first floor damage unlike many of my neighbors]

It is also a time for hope. Hope that the areas most affected will recover, hope that the historic landmarks in this town can be salvaged, and hope that once the mud is gone and the traffic slows and the utility trucks leave and the National Guard moves on to another area in need of assistance, I will find time to take walks with my son's, and I will remember to ask my neighbors how they are doing, and I will offer assistance when I see it is needed. Hope that my children have learned to do the same. Hope that my neighbors will do the same. Change may make us nervous and anxious. But it can also bring anticipation and hope. Out of the mud and out of the devastation in this small town, hope and anticipation for positive change may be just the motivation to keep everyone looking towards the future.  

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