It has been a few days that have, while others worked their hearts out, caused me to think.
I wrote a post about Norwood, my hometown, which had suffered tremendously, from a flash flood on Sunday evening.
It was a post that simply erupted. It wasn’t planned or thought out … the words flooded my mind and ended up on a computer screen.
I have thought a lot about Norwood since then. Actually, I think about Norwood frequently, since I made my peace with it.
Although, many, many miles away, I hopped on the emotional roller coaster. I read the FB page … the stories of heroism, selflessness, a can-do attitude. One of the things that struck me, was when, on several posts, I saw a person saying they needed help, and told their circumstances, and immediately, a response would appear that said, “I am on my way.”
There was no hesitation, no hemming and hawing, just the reaction of, “Put me where I am needed.”
My throat gulped several times.
Yesterday, I wrote a piece that mentioned 9-11 and how, though not an act of war, this flood brought out emotions that disasters bring. Loss, fear, despair, why and the feeling that nothing will ever be the same.
I, from a distance, unscathed, unbuttered from the reality of the disaster, said words. The post was about how the people in Norwood, at this raw, open-emotional time, could turn this disaster into an opportunity to up the ante on their city. The goodness of people has shone and unlike after 9-11, where we were told to go shopping or else the terrorists would win, the people of Norwood could, after the immediate needs are taken care of, use this time as a period of reflection and begin to dream and work toward building an even better future.
Good grapes, it is easy to sit 500 miles away and write something like that when people are still digging out and probably wondering where and how they will live.
And I felt awful, and took the post down.
I felt, in a way, like a fraud. Who am I to be telling people in Norwood anything? I haven’t lived there since I was 18, and then a year-and-a-stint more.
For the most part, other than a financial contribution, all I have to offer are my words and support. If pride and support can transcend the miles, maybe what I do is worth it.
But maybe not.
I felt a bit like when someone tells me they have cancer or some other awful life-altering illness. There is the shock and the urge to try to think of anything I can do to help … and then not make things worse by saying something stupid.
I’ve done it before. I know I have. It was unwittingly, but still.
Words and actions try to help, but so many of life’s paths, we walk alone. People help and lift loads and try to carry our burdens, but the heart and back feel, what the heart and back feel. Unless you have walked in someone’s shoes, you don’t know where they are going to give you blisters.
I remember when my husband, Nick, told people where he worked that he had cancer. Most said, “I am sorry to hear that,” except one young kid who said, “Man, it sucks to be you.”
Nick and I have laughed at that ever since, which has been 11 or so years.
What the young man said was true. At that moment, facing surgery, chemo and radiation and a questionable prognosis, it sucked to be Nick.
There was good that came out of Nick’s going through cancer. We both saw life differently. We learned that life brings death … it is not an option. Only the timing is.
And we learned to live with it and accept that fact.
That this flood took a toll on so many at one time, takes it to a whole new level, one of which I cannot understand, no matter how much I Norwood means to me.
Instead of writing grandiose words of change and revitalization of spirit and surrounds, I should have just observed good people doing good things. The words that matter are the ones on the FB page that have been written by people in need and people who have responded with time, talent, and heart.
To you, I raise my cup of Earl Grey, and commend you, cheer for you and say I am very proud of you.