A year ago when all the hubbub started about Hurricane Sandy, like so many people in the area where I lived on the water in Amity Harbor, I didn’t take it very seriously. Although, I lived on a canal, the warnings that were being issued seemed extreme. I had stayed home through Hurricane Irene the year before without the water even coming up my back steps. So, in my mind, Sandy would probably only be slightly worse.
Chauncy and I hunkered down on October 29, 2012 with every intention of waiting it out. And for most of the day, it appeared I had taken the right course. Then around 7pm, things changed radically. I waded through knee high water to move my car to higher ground. Forty minutes later when I finally left with my dog and one bag that same water was up to my thighs and had begun pouring into my home from every conceivable point of entry including the sinks and toilet.
I was oddly pretty calm for someone driving around in the midst of a hurricane. I picked up a stranded driver who was soaked to bone. He warned me not to go west on Merrick Road because that was where his truck got stranded. I deposited him at the pizza place where the emergency workers were staying. I couldn’t stay there with Chauncy. So, I had to move on. (There are very few safe public places during catastrophes on Long Island for people with dogs.)
Chauncy was freaking out as we weaved around fallen trees on Sunrise Highway. He kept trying to crawl inside me practically. So, I eventually threw an entire bag of treats on the passenger seat to distract him. First, we tried going west to my folks, and made it about 10 miles before the road was blocked off. So, I turned around drove further East than where I started and ended up at a friend’s house in Bayshore. Thankfully, her family was willing to take us both in.
The next day I went to my folks’ house and have been here since. I thought by now I would be in my new apartment with Hurricane Sandy fading into an increasingly distant memory but a short five months later, I experienced an event that made Super Storm Sandy feel like a mere inconvenience. On March 2nd, the day after I launched this blog, I fell down the stairs at the Madison Square Garden Entrance to Penn Station. I broke my upper jaw, lost a front tooth, damaged seven more top front teeth, ripped my upper lip completely through, sprained my wrist and broke my nose.
Given the opportunity to take that moment back and hold the handrail, I most certainly would take the mulligan. I won’t have anything close to my smile back before 2015 (…and we are talking closer to 2016.) However, several people have told me I would find the blessings in these events and they were right. When something like this happens, at first you just want to crawl into a hole and disappear. You wonder what you might have done to deserve such a shitty, fucking thing to happen to you … and in my case two shitty things in row. You wonder, “is this going to be what breaks me?” Then a little voice deep inside answers very confidently, “no, it’s going to make you stronger than you have ever been.” Then you pick your head up and start noticing all the things you have to be grateful for like your family, your friends, your dog, the perfect strangers (who turned out to be paramedics) who stopped to help when you fell, all the flowers, cards, prayers, well wishes and good, competent doctors to help put you back together. There is so much I have to be grateful for, I couldn’t possibly fit it all into this one blog post. That is how fortunate I am!
There is one other thing I want to share with you and then I’ll wrap it up! That is the lesson. The most profound shift I have experienced since all of this happened is what I thought mattered before… most of it… doesn’t matter at all. I used to sweat everything: my boss yelling at me, getting a ticket, a friend being distant, paying bills… any little negative thing could tip my mood. The worse thing on my mind before I fell was that my car had a leaky head gasket. It seems so silly now ruminating about how I was going to find a new apartment, furnish it and get a new car at the same time. I thought THAT was something to feel sorry for myself about. Now, I am looking at a $30K-$40K dental reconstruction. It’s okay though because getting my smile back to me is priceless!
Love and blessings to all.