I’ve been wading through old feelings of shock and despair this week, watching the Texas Coast in their efforts to recover from Harvey… And then Irma. Irma tore through one of my favorite places on earth like a mythic monster, leaving so much catastrophic destruction in her wake. The extent of which is still unknown, as communications are severely limited from the islands. The images that are appearing are worse than anything I’ve seen or experienced before… And she’s not done.
I grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, so I’m no stranger to hurricane season. I have vivid memories of Hurricane Elena in 1985. My sister was not quite two, and our parents took us to ride out the storm with our grandparents in Gulfport. I think I slept through the worst of the stormy parts (still not sure if Mom gave me benadryl…), but I do clearly remember walking outside with my PawPaw as the eye of the storm passed over. Sunshine, calm, and peace for just a few precious minutes before the winds and rain picked back up. As scary as that day was, that memory is one of my favorites. I remember my grandfather’s strength, and his smile as he marveled at the incredible display of nature we were experiencing.
There were several more storms to come during my time on the coast, but Katrina was the most, ah, memorable? She was the worst experience of my life to date. The uncertainty, the destruction and loss… I left my hometown because of her. All of my friends, my career, my cute little house, my life.
But, you know what? Even though it took a literal Act of God to make me do it, moving to Texas was the best thing for me. After working through the trauma, the grieving process, and survivor guilt, I realized I needed to re-create myself. I needed to let go of some things that I hadn’t realized were holding me back. I dug out the Me that had been buried under old dreams and dusted that ol’ girl off. I bought her some dancing boots and bought her a pony. Tried out a new career and made new friends. And guess what?
I found ME. This life, right now, is a direct result of painting tired walls and drenching myself in hope. My life here in Dallas, my husband, my dogs, my friends, and the woman I’ve become are thanks to all of the struggles, trials, victories, and experiences I’ve been through over the last decade or so.
In light of the horrific devastation that Irma is leaving in her wake, and to those who’ve survived her wrath, all I can say is this: I know you’re not ready to hear this right now, but it will come. The incredible things, the indescribable joy, the re-creation of self; those things are on your horizon. Don’t lose faith. Hold onto hope. And by all means, don’t piss Journey off. Don’t stop believing.
To the British Virgin Islands and her people: I’ve only had the privilege of visiting your shores twice, but you have a piece of my soul. My prayers are with you, and I’m supporting you in any way that I can. We will meet again.
To support the BVI, click here. Virgin Unite’s overheads are covered by Richard Branson and the Virgin Group, meaning that 100% of all donations received will go directly to helping support local BVI communities.
You can also click here to donate through Kenny Chesney’s Love for Love City Foundation and efforts benefitting Hurricane Irma disaster relief via PayPal.