The Surreal Life – Moving Forward After the Storm


Nothing feels the same here.  Chinooks fly over our houses.  SWAT vehicles roll down the streets.  Military trucks and personnel are common sights.  I greatly appreciate their presence, but it’s not something that we ever saw before.  Each time I hear or see them, I remember once more that everything is different.

Given the inaccessibility of the roads, the potential unavailability of the staff, and, in some cases, the flooding of the campuses themselves, school has yet to get started.  Consequently I have enrolled the kids in impromptu day camps that sprung up to avert further local disasters (the kinds that spontaneously occur when your kids have been home too long and repetitively utter that most dangerous of phrases…  “I’m bored.”).

image000000_48 - Copy - CopyWe have been in a collective daze struggling just to remember what day it is, but time has most certainly taken on a new distinction.  There is time before the storm came through, and then there is every moment after that.  Even our weather reports have changed.  We watch river, reservoir and bayou cresting reports.  We know our specific location elevations and where our properties fall with regard to those crests.  We pray for Hurricane Irma to miraculously disappear into nothingness as we can’t even contemplate the concept of going through this again.  It’s terrifying.  Merely typing the thought of it makes my pulse quicken, and I feel myself growing anxious.

I’m angry because I can’t sleep, and although I want to see the news discussing storm predictions, the Weather Channel is showing a fluffy program that sensationalizes storm chasing instead.  I don’t want to search the internet because it will lead me to further sad stories about people returning to their destroyed homes all around the Houston area.  I just want the basics on the current storm predictions.  The other major channels are consumed with gazillionaires yapping away about nothing while laughing at their own hollow tales.

Where is the latest hurricane going to go?  Why don’t they recognize what this will mean?  Don’t they understand what could happen to their family and friends?  Don’t they know that the stats become irrelevant the moment you find yourself living in the impossible?

No.  They don’t.  We didn’t either.  But once you live it, you can’t forget it.  No matter how much you want to, you can’t shake the reality that although it may be unlikely, it could happen again.

IMG_4704I’m waiting for the waters to recede all over town as I struggle to return to regular life via some kind of predictable schedule.  I went to the grocery store yesterday evening for the first time since the storm.  I found myself feeling irrationally angry at the other shoppers casually milling around the isles.  They were loading up their carts like nothing had changed.  I just couldn’t wrap my thoughts and emotions around that most innocuous of moments.  Why were we restocking our refrigerators while our neighbors were busy pulling out sopping carpets and destroyed sheetrock?  Had everyone already forgotten the loss all around us?  Was I the only one who felt that thick ache in my chest?  I plastered on a smile to veil the heaviness in my heart and guard me from the threat of tears.   Maybe they did, too.

Today I began to tackle the work that stacked up in my absence over the past week and a half.  My head felt cloudy, and I struggled throughout the entire day to remain focused.  All I could think about was the relief work around me.  I want to be actively helping families rebuild their lives, but there is a part of me that recognizes that I must also address my own.  I don’t desire to further elevate the trauma of it all.  I just don’t know how to release it.

I’ve never been a big fan of normal, but I now feel like I’m floating through surreality.   I want to clear the haze and move past the confusion.  I want to rise above the heaviness of this moment and fix the pain.  Mine.  Theirs.  All who are hurting.

It comes in waves.  I see tremendous beauty in the strength and unity of my town, state, and fellow man.  But I can’t talk about it.  Not yet.  I can’t get into the emotion of it all – good or otherwise.  I keep the conversation on the surface and seek humor where I can.

I hope that peace will find its way into in my heart and into the hearts of all affected by the storm.  I pray deeply for the safety of those in the path of this and all other destructive hurricanes to come.  They change you.  They change everything.

Joshua 1:9 – “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Much love to you.  Joanna


43 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. wakinguponthewrongsideof50
    Sep 06, 2017 @ 05:40:45

    Beautiful and thoughtful post Jo. It sucks.


  2. James J. Cudney IV
    Sep 06, 2017 @ 07:09:10

    Sending you lots of peace… and for everyone around you, too.


  3. overthehillontheyellowbrickroad
    Sep 06, 2017 @ 08:46:44

    Beautifully shared perspective.


  4. Merbear74
    Sep 06, 2017 @ 09:01:56

    Maybe finding an alone spot if you can and then screaming obscenities for a few minutes would help that ache you have.
    Seriously, if there is anything that I can do, email me


    • MoJo
      Sep 06, 2017 @ 16:00:08

      Ahhhh – I see now what I have been doing wrong. I have been screaming obscenities but only when others have been with me. Silly silly Jo. 😉 I appreciate you sweet friend. It’s just one of those mega bleh kind of things, and (quite ironically) I feel worse because I don’t think that I have any right to feel anything other than grateful. I still have a home. My family is safe. I’m just sad overall. Lucky for me the whipsaw of an emotional roller coaster should snap me back to the adrenaline kick any moment now and the snark train will exit the station once more.

      Shall I delete your comment to wipe the email off the comments list? Let me know and I’ll sent it to the circular file asap. And thanks honey. Really. Jo


  5. roseelaineblog
    Sep 06, 2017 @ 10:29:00

    Sending love to everyone 🌹


  6. whippetwisdom
    Sep 06, 2017 @ 11:29:51

    Sending you peace and praying everyone will stay safe from Irma too xxx


  7. sustainabilitea
    Sep 06, 2017 @ 11:31:26

    Excellent choice of Bible verse, Jo. I’ve never been through this experience (and hopefully never will be), but I know how quickly things fade from people’s lives and “normal” begins to assert itself. That can be good and bad. I have friends in the area who have been working tirelessly to help those in need of food, meals, etc. and so many are still doing so much. It behooves all of us to remember, however, that once the pressing, critical needs have been met, there is yet so much more to be done and not to forget at that time.



  8. Tracy
    Sep 06, 2017 @ 11:51:59

    Stay strong lovely X


  9. Trackback: WPC: Waiting | Lillie-Put
  10. mainepaperpusher
    Sep 06, 2017 @ 14:33:08

    I can’t even imagine what you’ve gone through; what you continue to go through. Know that there are a lot of people sending you positive energy and prayers. It must be hard for you to write about your experiences, but it’s necessary, too. It’s good that you are getting some of it out and on the screen. It’s also good for the rest of us to better understand. Be well, my friend. I know you have a long road ahead, but I can’t think of a stronger person to walk it. xoxoxo ❤️


    • MoJo
      Sep 06, 2017 @ 15:45:45

      I was just telling a friend that I have serious guilt about feeling any emotion other than gratitude. We are safe, our families are safe, and our home did not get flooded. I think it’s just the unwinding of all the emotions that stem from days of non-stop fear and extreme worry. Everyone I know has been involved with relief efforts all around us. I think we all just want it back to normal. We want to help everyone who still struggles. It’s been pretty awesome to see, and I think that this is how we will get better bit by bit. Thank you for your kindness love. 🙂


  11. Trackback: Author Interview – Al Burke – “The King is Dead” (Epic Fantasy) | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)
  12. I tripped over a stone.
    Sep 06, 2017 @ 23:38:41

    Oh Jo, my heart just aches for you. The after storm lull, the grief and anxiety you can finally feel now that ‘crisis mode’ has escaped you. Be kind and patient with yourself. You will grieve becasue you feel lucky… you don’t need to feel bad for not being as devasted as others. Emotionally you ahve been right there with them. As your heart heals, you’ll keep having momments but you are OK, and you just need time. Take all the time you need dearest Jo.~Kim


    • MoJo
      Sep 07, 2017 @ 07:04:45

      Thank you so very much Kim. I’m better today. I needed a meltdown day or two there. It’s exactly like you said – coming out of the crisis mode. You can feel the adrenaline bleeding out of your system as you hit the wall. Living in incessant fear for your family and town for days is not my favorite. I will also be quite pleased once hurricane season is over. I’ve lived with that for 29 years (maybe even a few more…), and it’s never been something I’ve ever given too much thought to beyond not booking trips in hotspots. But now, it’s going to be flagged on my calendar!

      You are such a dear, and you have an incredible way of saying the exact right thing. You are the cat’s pajamas sweet friend! 🙂


  13. Trackback: Waiting: seals | What's (in) the picture?
  14. larva225
    Sep 07, 2017 @ 13:58:16

    I am so very sad for you and your community. I work for our Dept of Environmental Quality and we were tasked with monitoring the landfills taking in all the debris from the horrible flooding last year. I went home the first day and just cried. This “debris” was people’s lives – chairs, bedding, teddy bears. I’ll never forget that. I’ll also never forget how drab everything is after a hurricane. The vegetation is largely dead or defoliated. The only color is that damn blue from the tarps on rooftops. Y’all will get through this.


  15. elbycloud
    Sep 07, 2017 @ 19:05:29

    Well, at least you have spam in your comments. I hear it’s very tasty when fried. 😡
    Hang in there. Survivor’s guilt is useless. Go buy yourself a nice lipstick and dress up those curse words, in public, like a proper American.


    • MoJo
      Sep 08, 2017 @ 06:38:44

      My sister and I were just having the spam in the cooking conversation. If I recall, I believe that I was giving her crap about it. ;). And I will ALWAYS keep my curse words sitty pretty and ready to don’t their thang. Lol!


  16. misifusa
    Sep 08, 2017 @ 08:14:12

    Sending love, protection and strength to you xoxo


  17. inspirationpie
    Sep 08, 2017 @ 09:02:53

    I hope normalness returns soon, Jo. Take care.



  18. Playamart - Zeebra Designs
    Sep 08, 2017 @ 11:04:34

    Very eloquent, and I’m sure you’re putting your most-positive foot forward – at all times!

    Yes, it’s hard to find good information online or on television.. the latter was an option this past week while visiting friends in Panama, but the things the networks showcased made me all but ill… I hope that the next six or so weeks are calm there in your world. Logging off and heading home …. Lisa


  19. elbycloud
    Sep 08, 2017 @ 11:52:18

    One more comment for you – is a good site for hurricane info. They have a podcast too, and rss feeds, if you are into that stuff. Go to the page (ANALYSES & FORECASTS / Tropical Cyclone Products), pick your hurricane and go to Warnings/Cone Interactive Map.


    • MoJo
      Sep 08, 2017 @ 12:04:40

      I’m so glad that you reminded me about that. It sounds silly but I actually did forget. I had the NOAA app on my phone but I deleted it mid-storm because I got so tired of the ERRRRR crazy loud noise going off all night (several nights in a row). It wasn’t that we didn’t still need to warnings. I just needed the sleep and couldn’t take it anymore. Probably a good idea to put that back now! Thank you lovebug. 🙂


  20. lynnefisher
    Sep 10, 2017 @ 08:59:23

    Beautifully expressed, Jo. Here’s hoping for some improvement. No, we don’t know what this is like unless we live through it, but devastating just doesn’t cover it.


    • MoJo
      Sep 10, 2017 @ 09:25:03

      You’re so kind Lynne. It’s starting to feel more normal around here, but I worry that the small towns still need a tremendous amount of help. I really appreciate your comments honey. 🙂


  21. lifelessons
    Sep 10, 2017 @ 23:47:51

    When I lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a huge tornado ripped a path all the way across town, lifted over my house, then set down across the street. My best friend’s house was destroyed and for months afterward, we were all in fear of another tornado coming. It changed all of us and yet a mere year later, it was as though it had never happened. My friend lived in a smaller house, but actually closer to me. For a month or two, they lived with me and I got closer to her boys than even before. The town was brought closer together by neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping new friends. Unfortunately, the way of the world. I, too, cannot comprehend that the powers that be seem to be unwilling to see the place that global warming has in these huge disasters. Don’t know what it will take. Perhaps something that affects them personally.


    • MoJo
      Sep 11, 2017 @ 05:27:53

      I was thinking the same thing yesterday. It’s always like that. You sympathize from afar, but you don’t truly emotionally empathize until you’ve lived the fear and sadness. And keep in mind, we were a-okay. I can’t imagine how all the people who lost their homes and irreplaceables must truly feel.


      • lifelessons
        Sep 11, 2017 @ 10:56:27

        Let me tell you that they are numb, overwhelmed, of course, by both the loss and the incredible support of others (hopefully) but in the main, just so grateful that it was things and not lives that were lost.

  22. manyofus1980
    Sep 15, 2017 @ 19:02:35

    sending you some hugs and lots of love xxxxx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: