Monday, May 10, 2010
If you had one hour to grab all that's important...
This has been the thought going through my mind as I've helped strangers and friends clean out their flooded homes. After all I've seen, I keep thinking about Mary. Mary has lived in the same home in Madison for 50 years. Mary's house wasn't just a place she lived, it was her home. A home full of memories; memories drowned within the flooded walls, in photo albums, in her Lane cedar chest, and in long forgotten jewelry boxes. Memories she carries in her mind and in her heart, memories soaked in the stench of the overflowing waters of the Cumberland. For Mary, the flood reminded her of all these long forgotten memories. She watched with courage and optimism as we helped clean out her home. Just like memories, her belongings were strewn about her home, only these memories were haphazardly tossed about by 3-4 feet of flood water. Mary courageously stood by as we were about to carry out her "hope chest". Mary said to Teresa and I, "Please be careful with this top drawer. It didn't get wet and this is the cake topper from my wedding." I choked back tears as I carried photo albums to her front porch to dry out as they all but disintegrated in my gloved hands. Mary and her family thanked us each time we lifted a piece of furniture. They thanked us every time we walked back into Mary's home and each time we walked out with another memory. When we were finished cleaning out what we could of her soaked memories, she simply said, "God bless you. How can I ever repay you?" It took all the strength I had to just give her a positive smile, pat her small shoulder and accept her thanks and blessings.
This week I have been hesitant to say much about my feelings regarding the flooding that has devastated Nashville. Mostly for fear of really dealing with what I have witnessed in my adoptive hometown. But now, I've had some time to let it sink in, and I have come to terms with my feelings about it all. I have not, however, come to terms with what has happened. The most profound emotion I have had since last weekend is gratitude. Gratitude for the people I have met along my path here in Nashville. Gratitude for strangers I have met who made a choice to reach out and help those in need. Gratitude for people like Mary, who reminded me, it's not just about the material possessions, but about memories and community and the most profound spirit and the will to survive and move forward.
We will move forward, we will rebuild. And on the other side of all this devastation, we will come out stronger and with a renewed spirit and sense of community. A community of all walks of life, religious backgrounds, age groups, financial and political beliefs. We will know we can depend on each other.
And for this, I am filled with gratitude, with awe, with spirit, and with love.
I am so very proud to call Nashville my home.
We ARE Nashville.