I always said that I never got upset over two things: Things I could control; and Things I could not control. Obviously things I could control were things I could do something about, and with things I could not control, that meant of course I would not get upset about the things I could not control, because that was pointless, since I could not control it.
However those who know me know that I end up spending a lot of time trying to get things I can not control and change them into things I can control. This means that the serenity prayer is wasted on me.
Then Sandy came. I watched on TV as the storm raged, and spoke to my mom as she and my stepfather fled to the second floor of the house to escape the water.
I grew up in Oceanside, and that area seemed to be rather hard hit.
I saw the footage of destroyed homes and people sobbing amongst the ruins of what was once their lives. I tried to explain to the kids what was happening. And most of all, I wanted to DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING. I donated money to the Red Cross and LI Cares, but I desperately wanted to fill the minivan with supplies and drive up.
However, the threat of being grounded, (and the gas shortage) stopped me, and instead I bagged up items around the house, including my prodigious collection of sample sized toiletries and sent them to a local bar that was taking donations. But still I feel helpless and impotent, as I am sure many of my friends who grew up in Oceanside and moved away did.
The news media does not seem to be covering the aftermath of the storm as much now that Presidential Elections and Petraeus’ extracurricular use of his penis seems to dominate the news. But thanks to Facebook, I can see that my hometown still has large portions of its residents without heat and power.
The storm is bringing out the best in people. I see the Facebook Pages devoted to donating, and stories of electric workers from across the country and average citizens digging deep and coming in with supplies and money. I see Long Island, now Strong Island gathering together to rebuild.
Then I see the worst. I see people criticizing celebrities who gave for not giving enough. I hear stories of mismanagement at LIPA that curl your toes. And even though Chris Christie is not my favorite person, I hate seeing him ridiculed and thrown under the bus for putting the people of the state that he was elected to govern above party politics. When part of your state has been destroyed, some things no longer matter.
I also hear about scams happening with people offering to help people make claims or arrange for repair work, but just take what is left of the money these people have and run.
I also still try to control things. I keep on reminding my family that they are welcome to come here at any time, as if they would forget. I keep on asking them if they need anything. Heck, I still try to plan Thanksgiving, December Birthdays and Christmas, because Thanksgiving is next week and I tend to go on autopilot this year.
Yet even though I start working on my Christmas list, Sandy is not far from my mind. I think about the children of the hard hit areas and wonder what their Christmas will be like, and wonder what can be done.
I then also think of the other disasters. Past hurricanes, the Tornado in Joplin, and think that I simply donated some money to the Red Cross and went about my day, never giving those people a second thought.
But now, its on my mind. And even when I don’t want to have the hurricane on my mind, its still there, brought to the forefront by my inquisitive daughter. Her questions, “Why did the hurricane happen? What happened to peoples pets? How did the water get in the house? Could it happen to our house? Could it happen again? Did Grandma Fran lose all her shoes?” brings it back. However, I am eternally grateful that I get the easy questions that can be answered in generalities and do not have to answer the tougher questions that my NY & NJ peers have to answer.
So the best I can do, the best any of us can do is to donate what we can, and help out where we can.
The bigger questions of preventing more damage caused by extreme weather looms, but it’s not my question to answer, because I cannot wrap my head around the enormity of this storm and its causes.
So my Long Island friends, stay strong, and know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.