You ask me what it’s like to live in such a strange world.
It wasn’t like this before, I say.
Before that day.
The one where the winds raged ceaselessly, roaring over and through neighborhoods, communities,
miles and miles of our home.
Taking so much, leaving so little.
It wasn’t like this before the surging waters destroyed the foundations.
The ones that supported our homes, our livelihoods, our land.
In the span of hours, the blink of an eye really, our world was transformed.
From known to strange.
From comfort to chaos.
From before to this gut wrenching,
Yes. Yes, we’re grateful we survived.
But ok? No. This isn’t normal.
And we are not ok.
This is wild and fluid.
Destruction so daunting.
This is heartbreaking; horrifying.
It’s not the home we knew.
It’ll never be that home again.
It’s a saturating kind of pain.
A pain that lingers.
And the world outside?
Outside our battered borders?
It moved on. In a day. In a week.
There was silence.
And we? We remained.
Surrounded, by this vast brokenness.
Wearing our grief.
Bearing the scars. So many scars.
Everywhere we look, reminders.
Everywhere we go, so changed and unfamiliar.
No. No, we are not ok.
You ask me what it’s like to live in such destruction.
When the world moves on, I say, it’s lonely. So very lonely.
Do you hear us? See us? Are you listening?
It’s your compassion we need.
Your honest and heartfelt awareness.
Your acknowledgment that we’re still here.
That we matter.
That we’re not alone.
We thought nothing would ever be worse, or more humbling, than surviving that day.
Than living in the aftermath.
But, that. That, we can bare.
And all that’s still to come.
What’s proven much harder.
What we can’t fathom, is the indifference.
And the message you convey so loudly with your silence.
© 2019 Jennifer N. FenwickIn the Eye of the storm: Stories of Survival and Hope from the Florida Panhandle available now on Amazon. All money from sales goes to the United Way of Northwest Florida Hurricane Michael Relief Fund to aid with LOCAL recovery efforts throughout the Florida Panhandle.