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10 Weeks . . . What Once Was

We have two ponds that greet us when we enter and leave our neighborhood.

The one at the entrance used to look like this . . .

It was lush with greenery and trees . . .

On Saturday, as the Mr. and I left to run errands, I was struck by the barrenness that has replaced what existed ten weeks ago, before Hurricane Michael hit.

I snapped a couple of pictures when we returned home a few hours later.

The difference is sobering.

I try my hardest to be positive no matter what’s going on around me, but can I be honest with you?  This is the week that the permanence of my new reality has hit me the hardest.

I think that I was in denial at first.  It’s possible that I thought that new trees would magically sprout from the piles of debris that lined the roads.

When you’re recovering from a Cat 5 storm, you find yourself dreaming impossible things.

The heaviness of this realization seems to be at its height on the weekends when the Mr. and I are out and about.  It’s at those times, when I’m riding in the passenger seat of the car, that I’m free to look around at the landscape rather than at the traffic around me.

This is when the difference between what was and what is brings tears to my eyes.

Every time.

When we were at the mall paying for a purchase, the salesclerk asked if we were local.  We told him that we were, and that we lived in Lynn Haven.  He sadly shook his head and said that things would never be the same – at least not in our lifetime.

I trailed behind the Mr. as we walked away and had to wipe my eyes at the truth of his statement.

Despite the Christmas music playing overhead, I was sad.

When most people think of Panama City, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the beach.

For us town folk, we think of trees.

Lots of them.

Rather, we used to.

Now, everywhere we look, we see either an absence of trees or trees that are broken in half – lots and lots and lots of trees that have yet to be cleared.

Every day, when I pass these trees, I wonder, “How long am I going to see this?  Will anyone come along and take these trees down, or will they be allowed to disintegrate and slowly fade into the scenery?”

You’d think that I’d be accustomed to the sights by now.  Ten weeks might seem like a lifetime to some.  I mean, it’s almost three months.  Ahem.

I’m not used to it though.  When you’ve called a place home for as long as I have (many locals have been here their entire lives), you see ghosts of what once was.

I haven’t been on a long walk since a few days before the storm came through.  My route used to take me to the other side of my neighborhood.  I need to, but I’m dreading it.

I know I’m going to cry when I see some of my favorite selfie spots – the ones closest to the main road a neighbor watched a tornado rip through.

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It helps knowing that there are people who understand.  Just this week, our school received dozens upon dozens of Christmas cards written by students from Clear Springs High School in Texas. These kids survived Hurricane Harvey, which devastated their area last year.

I was moved to tears when I read their kind words yesterday morning.

They know what it’s like to lose what you’re most familiar with.

They’re still dealing with the what was, but they’re closer to the other end.

We’re just at the beginning of our journey.

In the midst of my wistfulness, God has reminded me that He’s still here.

I have said this a number of times, and I suspect that I’ll continue to repeat myself, but the sunrises we have had since the hurricane have been nothing short of spectacular.

This morning, as I drove into work, I did so with my jaw on the floorboard.

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I’m not sure that I would notice the sunrises as much – especially at that early hour – if it wasn’t for the absence of the trees, which blocked my view before October 10th.  I guess I don’t have that problem any more.

The colors are always so vibrant (even behind the sign at the gas station) . . .

They bespeak of renewal, much like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

Please continue to pray for us.  We still have hard moments, but God is speaking life into us one sunrise at a time.

One Response

  1. Those cards. I love the promises of people that have been through something that say, “it will get better” “You will make it through” “You will survive” – how encouraging is that.
    I am someone who cries when trees are lost too – all the years they have seen… so sad. But Ricky reminds me that sometimes these storms come through to take out the weak ones & leave the strong standing & now, stronger trees can get planted in. Deep thought really.

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