(Part II of a 3 part blog series about living through Sandy. The first blog post was published on Patch on Monday.)
Okay, here we are at the end of day six of a very surreal week. "Normal" seems light years behind us. Getting the kids off to school on Friday morning, Gene off to work and me off to school thinking about the lessons I would be teaching to my students that day. Colleagues mentioning in passing the idea of a big storm approaching. Everyone going about their daily business.
Fast forward a week later and we are in what looks like a war zone. People's lives turned upside down.
As I tell my students and my own kids, grown-ups never stop learning (Imagine little shocked faces in my classes when I tell them this because after all, grown ups know EVERYTHING).
What I have learned through all of this is:
That kids will be kids and need to live as close to a normal life as possible even though the grown ups around them are struggling with the magnitude of what has happened. Their innocent small world insulates them purposely from the horrors that are around them. For their innocence, I am thankful.
That it doesn't really matter that you're wearing the same clothes for the third day in a row. So is everyone else. For some, that's all they have.
That we don't need to sweat the small stuff. Kinda learned this from my sis as she struggled with ALS but have been reminded of it this week.
That spending time with my kids playing board games by candlelight beats typing lesson plans and other work on the computer. "Hey mom....you can play with us right? You don't have any work to do!" Had a lot of marathon UNO games lol.
That my house might not be a big one but its big enough to invite folks in for hot meals, a place to sleep/take showers, watch TV, etc. My washing machine and dryer are purring away as we do laundry for our friends.
That most importantly, material things don't matter in the big picture. Humanity means the world to others. I thought about taking a trip over the tracks into the Beach area but can't bring myself to do it. Not for fear of the destruction I would find. But because I have lived what they are living on a smaller scale (92 nor'easter in Manasquan. Lost my car and all of my high school and college memories).
What bothered me the most back then was, as I was sorting through my water- logged possessions, people were driving by and staring/taking pictures. So out of respect for those who are going through that now, I will stay here. I thought about this idea of not going to see what people were going through and came to the conclusion that the best thing I could do was to open my home to people.
I'm happy to say that I've been taken up on my offer and have been doing laundry for friends, cooking meals, providing a warm place to stay, TV for those who needed/wanted to see pics of what is going on around them , etc. I learned that the best way I can help people is by listening as they pour out their hearts through tears of frustration, provide a comforting shoulder to lean on, being here for people.
It has been a rough week but an educational week for me. Yes....even the grown-ups are still learning. I feel like I've done something to help others the best way I know how...opening my heart and my home.