Fay’s Way

Tropical storm Fay arrived in Florida on my birthday, which created some odd juxtapositions. Out of state friends and family called with happy birthday wishes tinged with anxiety because the storm was projected to roar through Sarasota. A dear friend who had planned a birthday dinner party for the night staunchly continued to prepare for 12 guests while her husband boarded up windows. Other friends loyally got out their high-riding trucks so they could clear flooded streets if necessary. Two of the couples live in a flood zone, so they planned to come to my house the next day and ride out the storm. One of the couples has 5 cats. The other couple said it would be a good thing to have 5 cats in the house during a hurricane — that way each of us could have our own cat. As it turned out, Fay didn’t follow the predicted path up Florida’s west coast at all, but has ambled around the east coast, zigzagging off and on to hit the state three times.

I’m having a peculiar mix of emotions over the whole thing. First, a profound gratitude for having friends not only willing to celebrate my birthday but willing to do it when they thought a hurricane was on the way. Then, a general gratitude for all the friends in my life who enrich and sweeten every experience. I always feel inadequate at expressing how much I value them, and I’m feeling even more inadequate now. And, living in Florida where the threat of hurricanes is an annual given, I’m also filled with gratitude that my particular area was spared Fay’s flooding and destruction. Mixed in with all that happy gratitude is the vague feeling of guilt, the irrational sense that my area’s good luck somehow comes at the expense of those unlucky ones who are today sharing space with alligators and snakes in the floodwaters.

I suppose that’s part of being human. At any given moment, some of us are celebrating our great fortune while others of us are grieving our losses. No matter how much we may empathize with the ones whose turn it is to grieve, we shouldn’t let our empathy dampen our happiness when it’s our turn to celebrate. So in spite of my compassion for my fellow Fay-blasted Floridians today, I’m quietly relishing my own happiness.

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3 thoughts on “Fay’s Way

  1. Happy Birthday Blaize! I can’t believe it’s your birthday because my birthday is tomorrow, August 23rd!

    My husband is going to do something unique this year. Besides renovating our house for the past century (since 1/10/07), the 23 foot long library is finally complete! All the oak shelves have been sprayed with 6 coats of polyacrylic to protect the books. Kind of like wrapping the shelves in Brodarts! My book collection has been packed up for the past year, at least, and it finally will be able to breathe again.

    Bill is going to unpack all million boxes of books (see my blog for a photo at http://herronfamily.typepad.com) and put the books up on the shelves while I sit and play with the two black and white kittens due to arrive at noon. (They have another one that needs a home ….)

    I just won an ARC of your book Even Cat Sitters Get the Blues from Lesa Holstine’s blog which runs contests each week on DorothyL. How about that for a great birthday surprise!?

    Sure hope you had a fabulous day.

    Sandie Herron

  2. Blaize – I understand those mixed feelings of happiness and compassion. After living in Ft. Myers for 18 years, my husband and I packed up our four cats, and moved to Arizona just ahead of Hurricane Charlie. We were in Tallahassee heading out of state when we talked to a friend in Port Charlotte who said they were in the long-range projected path of a hurricane. We got out the week ahead of time.

    We felt terrible for all of our Florida friends – some lost major parts of their homes – but very grateful to get out without ever being hit.

  3. Oh, Charlie was bad! I was in my closet with a sofa cushion ready to put over my head when Charlie unexpectedly veered into Port Charlotte instead of coming on to Sarasota as all the experts had said it would. I felt the same way then: very grateful and lucky, and a little bit guilty to feel so happy. The last time I drove past that area, there were still houses with blue tarps on the roofs and mold inside the houses.

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