Monday, August 27, 2007

My Lessons in Gratitude

I want to say thanks.

It’ll never be enough, but I need to say it anyway.

Thank you to every single person in my life who reached out in the hours and days and months (and now years) since Katrina. Thank you,too, to all those folks who’s names I don’t, and will never, know.

Thank you to the lovely Red Cross mental health professional (with the Dickensian name of Mary Cope) who made a point to come and speak discreetly to our small band of evacuees - to ensure that we had access to specific services for our needs and to let us know that we were among family (wink).

Thank you to Jessica, the ever-vigilant front desk manager at the Residence Inn in Nashville - our home away from home for nearly 4 months. After the first week, Jessica would call up to our room to let us know when the important pieces of mail had arrived - and became our den mother, making sure we were eating enough and sleeping through the night. I still think she knew we often lied on both accounts. (To make her Sunday morning shifts a little more bearable, we’d slip down to the office with a homemade Irish Coffee for her...)

To Bobbi, my dear friend of 20 years now, I can never express my thanks and appreciation for taking over as my press agent in the days immediately following the storm. Until we reached Nashville, we had limited communication with the outside world - landlines (including pay phones!) in the French Quarter are insulated underground and continued to work, even after the levees gave way. I would call Mom and Bobbi, and between the two, they’d piece together what they perceived was the real story. Bobbi then took the initiative to email to all my friends and family what she thought was appropriate to share. (I’d sent a mass email the eve of the storm to nearly all my address book...I got so many comments later that it was Bobbi’s emails that helped them get through those first 10 days.) Thank you.

Allison. I know she’ll probably say this is not deserving of thanks, but she’s wrong and too modest. Very early on, it was my conversations with her that actually helped me begin the grieving process sooner and faster than I otherwise might have. She asked me the tough questions that only a close friend has right to...and allowed me think about them and answer in my own time. With her help, I began to face the reality of my immediate future and make plans for life if, in fact, I could not return to New Orleans. And. Oh, this is a big And. Allison kept after me in her not-entirely-subtle way to rejoin the blogdom...challenging me to tell the untold stories, in a from-the-trenches point of view. How do I ever begin to thank you? I love you.

Mom. Without ever meeting Mark or John, Mom offered to fly us all out to Washington (state), to give us a safe place and a quiet space in which to pull it all back together. Even though we didn’t/couldn’t take her up on the offer, it was beautiful in its timing and simplicity. Thank you. (Mom never asked the hard questions, but confessed to Bobbi that she was worried that I’d seen things that had changed me for good. I hadand they did...but I love that she could express that care and concern.)

I am so grateful for the amazing friend I made during my exile to Nashville - Shellie. Through a series of unlikely (but incredibly fortuitous) events, I landed a sweet job working for Shellie at the Nashville Zoo - doing almost exactly the same kind of job I'd had in New Orleans. Not only do Shellie and I share very similar work ethics and notions of what quality education is - but we got each other. I had not made a new great friend like that in some time - and as a boss, she let me use my time there to grow and recharge and use all my gifts - and in turn, I helped the Zoo sparkle. Thank you, my new friend!


Mark. I don’t write much about Mark here, but I must thank him. The phrase he uttered to me, the words he knew would help me through time and time again...from the moment we realized the city was filling with water, to the now-or-never trip over the Mississippi River out of the city with John and me riding in the bed of Mark's truck to guard our worldly possessions (yes, that's me wielding the Henkels), to our long cold nights in Nashville, so very far from home. We'll get through this together. We did and we have. And now this life is in a new chapter. We didn't get through the way we thought we would, but we got through anyhow. So, thank you...

I was about to write that I could go on thanking people forever - the choir director at the small Methodist Church who let me sit in on rehearsals for a month or so despite not having the time to actually sing with them on Sundays...Andrew & Elwyn, my boys in Britain, who kept my spirits up and offered me refuge on their distant shore...Tamara, my first fiancee (we were Ambrose and Ermengard in Hello, Dolly! oh, so many moons ago) who shared my gut-wrenching emails with friends and coworker who in turn reached out to a stranger...Amy, who did her damnedest to keep all of us now-former Audubon staff in touch...Dean in Houston who listened, really listened, and helped me fathom it all...

But no. I cannot write it all down yet. Someday.

For now, I can only hope that these wonderful people know how much it all means to me - that I do thank them - and that not a day goes by that I don't try to repay all that kindness in the way I live my life.

There's really nothing left to say.

Except.

Thank you.

8 comment(s):

soccer mom in denial

You stinker. I'm weaping at my desk.

Sniff. I love you so much.

Jenn in Holland

Ah, me.
What a beautiful thank you.

Flower Child

SMID is very good with grieving. FYI to anyone else - she's one to have by your side.

Jodi

No words, just hugs.

Jami

More hugs - lotsa hugs!

painted maypole

thanks for dropping by my post (how did you find it?) I'm glad to find you. A NOLA resident, a theatre fan, a Christian and a zoo lover? We have lots in common already. I'll be back.

aimee / greeblemonkey

Amazing.

Jen

Thank you for this amazing post. And your openness about your experiences.

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