The author on her back porch

Love and A Hurricane

There’s an example of all that is good buzzing at the end of our block. It’s a home being re-built. My friend Judith lost half her house from the wind. It was the only victim of Hurricane Irma in our neighborhood. Her oak tree, with hundreds of rings, gave in to one of the last gusts of the storm. It was a stately oak that had a health checkup every year.

I visited Judith two days after the storm. We perched in her living room among boxes and a dozen pieces of ceramics excavated from her yard. They sat like lost children on dusty tables throughout the room. Reflecting on the damage, we agreed that the assault was like a death in the family. Her home of 50 years was missing half its body. On the second floor, exposed for all to see, was a dresser set against the single remaining wall.

I wondered what it all meant. What was the theme of the wreckage? Then I realized was love expressed in the way people came together to help them.

The day after the storm neighbors and friends flocked to her house with food and muscle. When I visited Judith we stood at her front door, surveying the debris and the action outside. The felled trunk of the oak lay across the entire yard. Men were sawing and hauling and piling the tree. Out of the blue Judith said, “I’ve fallen in love with Billy.”  We all know Billy since he’s lived in our neighborhood most of his life, but this was a golden moment where she saw him in a new light. She shared deep gratitude and affection straight from her heart. Judith’s words were a grace note I’ll never forget.

There is always grace among us. It’s just very hard to see amidst the frenzy of modern life. Sometimes it takes a natural disaster to stop us in our tracks so we can see that love is all around us.