What to Take!

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, I wrote about the many decisions that we face upon evacuation. I hope you find a hint of sadness, humor and optimism realizing that all of the “stuff” of life means nothing compared to being safe!

My family and I are survivors of Hurricane Matthew. I mean survivor in the truest sense of the word because we are not only safe but so is our home and all the “things” that are inside. We are thankful to God!

When I think back on those hours before we realized that the storm was going to impact us, I remember running, yes running, around the house wondering what to take!  Looking at all of our lovely things, pictures on the walls, pictures on the tables and bookcases, dishes, glassware, gifts from loved ones, books and special things that make our house a home, I froze in my steps.

Where could I possibly put all of these “things” that define who we are.  I sat down on the sofa — feeling its familiarity — and soothed my soul with a good cry!  Suddenly I realized that it was impossible to take everything — or even close to everything! I had to choose those items closest to my heart, put them in a box and get ready to close the door the next day.

So what did I choose in those emotional moments of packing? Well, I took the maple boxes containing the ashes of our old dogs,  Herschell and Henrietta, their picture, family pictures of my son and us, small gifts from Jack, an ashtray from my husband John’s family, two of our crosses and two pictures of my granddaughter. I remember these choices because they called out to me to put them in the “box.” So I did!

We left early on Wednesday morning and returned on Saturday morning. The box, our dogs, Jack and I pulled into our driveway at noon. The first thing we saw was our garage screen swinging from its hinges and many palm fronds and debris cluttering our yard. But that was all!

When we unlocked the front door and walked in everything we had left was still there almost calling out a Hello to our return. As we walked in, I ran from room to room; all the “things” we had left seemed to smile and say, “See, I told you we would be here when you came back.”  Of course, after taking in all of this, I cried. My tears were for joy, for relief and also for many of our neighbors who were returning to not such good fortune.

Now, days later, I am still tired emotionally.  I know a nap today will feel great but I cannot forget how blessed our family has been.  We thank God for protecting us and are appreciative of the sunshine we have today.  We are hopeful that the next hurricane is far from here because packing another box may be a little difficult for me right now.


About the Author

Maryann Hartzell-Curran, a retired educator and counselor, has written a personal account of her journey through the first year of grieving the loss of her husband in her book, “From We to Me,” to help support those who have suffered the loss of a loved one.
Maryann founded a successful family therapy practice and taught in the public and private sectors. She also founded and directed a church-based preschool in Lombard, Ill., and gained experience working with the elderly as director of a senior dining center. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in counseling from Illinois Benedictine University.

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