I can't remember the last time I felt scared for my family due to a hurricane. Even in preparing for Hurricane Andrew, I remember thinking it was all a big adventure. My parents did a good job of that--always making us feel safe and protected. What I can remember of Andrew was being locked up in my brother's closet for hours with no power, just a flashlight and a mattress to protect us. As a 5-year-old, I thought it was the most genius idea ever, "Great idea mom and dad! A mattress that will shield us from a tornado!" Buuuuuut, I'm thinking that may have been for show, cause I know that a mattress isn't necessarily tornado protection protocol. I remember finally walking outside and being so shocked that my pool was now a fluorescent green color. And best of all, I remember missing school for several days.But my time of not fearing was finally up. Hurricane Irma was here to scare us all.All week long, I was receiving Irma updates, getting calls about the hysteria in Miami, hearing fear in people's voices as they talked about Irma's potential of being the most costly hurricane ever, and so on and on.As Irma approached Puerto Rico, I'd check on her every few hours. How strong was she now? How fast is she moving? Where is she going? After tirelessly trying to convince my parents to drive up to Atlanta, they decided (as most Cubans do) to hunker down. So at that point, all I knew to do was to pray.To pray for all those in the path of Irma. Then Saturday night came, and it was nearing Florida. The anxiety rose.I was receiving updates from my parents Sunday morning. We spoke and they assured me that they were prepared. Then the last I heard from them was 2:30 pm, and then radio silent. I told myself they were fine, and all was going to be okay. But despite my best efforts, I kept envisioning the worst case scenario. Has that ever happened to you? Where your mind instantly wonders to the worst place? Well, it does for me, a lot. But after three minutes of worrying and replaying tragedy in my mind, the voice of Brene Brown's popped into my head. Gratitude, it whispered. Gratitude. And so I began to give thanks:
For a husband who deeply cares and loves me and my parents and family as his own
For aunts and uncles and cousins who come together in times of need and care for one another in the most beautiful and selfless way
For friends and in-laws who checked in to see how my family was doing? How I was doing?
For my parents who stuck together, not only during this literal storm but more importantly through the storms of life
For community and the good in people during times of crisis
Gratitude is what got me through the hours when I did not hear from my parents. And when tragedy hits or I get that shutter of fear again, gratitude is what I will choose to practice.And as the remnants of Irma are currently hitting us here in Atlanta, I reflect on the storms in our lives and how we can always walk through them, but only with each other...being thankful for those others.
All my prayers for the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, as well as those in the midst of life's storm.