Storm Facers

To all those waiting for Irma: those in the path of her wrath and those feeling helpless as you watch from a distance, I want to remind you: You have already done things you thought you could not do. I have seen you.

I have seen you go for chemo treatments, lose your hair, endure hours of gasping for breath while your body tried to rid itself of the poison. And when you finally could rest, and we asked you if you wanted to stop the treatments, you replied, “Hell, no. I’m not giving in and I’m not giving up.”

I have seen you care for children who could not walk, lifting them in and out of their chairs, on and off of toilets, helping them push and pull and practice using their bodies as fully as they could, even when they raged against you.

I have seen you get up while it was still dark, day after day, to drive two hours one way, to get to work on time, only to drive two hours back home, arriving after dark, in time to read your child a bedtime story before you sat down for your only meal of the day.

I have seen you calm an anxious class of too many children who were running low on sleep and even lower on fuel, and redirect their attention to learning because you had already earned their trust and they could not mistake your demands for anything other than love.

I have seen you give money and time and energy that you did not have to those in need because your heart would not let you do any less.

I have seen you sob with a fist in your mouth in a cramped bathroom just long enough to make room in your body to regroup. I have seen you dry your eyes, straighten your back, and return to the hostile, unjust work environment, to carry on with dignity and grace because that was the standard to which you held yourself.

I have seen you board up the windows of your neighbors and your school and your church before beginning to board up your own. I have seen you fill bag after bag of sand, load them into a van, unload them at a house, and return to get more. I have seen you check your phone, watch the path of the oncoming storm, walk the floor, and wash every single piece of clothing in the house, and still take time to text with a friend and call a neighbor and tell a 3-year-old how lovely she looks in her green and pink pajamas.

I have seen you broke and broken, heard your pleas barely spoken in the sanctuary when you thought you were alone. I have watched you light a candle, pray in silence, and make the sign of the cross, as you wrestle with the God who will not let you go.

I have seen you lose children and siblings, parents and friends, walking into hospitals and funeral homes on legs you did not think could carry you. I have seen you enfold the grieving in your arms, and allow yourself to be enfolded.

I have seen you live when you thought you would die. I have seen you rise after every fall. I have seen you build, and rebuild, and rebuild life once again.

I have seen you do what you thought you could not do. And you will do whatever you need to do once again in the hours before and during and after this storm, because this is who you are.

And so just in case you forget, I want to remind you: God is with you. The love and prayers of an entire country are with you. And you can do this, too.