The sound was deafening. We wore earplugs at night to keep the speeding freight train from our worst nightmares. Forty-eight hours and then silence. Then darkness. The world we knew was limited to only what we could see from our eagles nest on the New Jersey Shore. We were cut off from the world. No internet. No cell. No electricity. No heat. For eight days we lived in darkness, lived in ignorance, not knowing how the rest of the world was fairing from Sandy’s wrath. So close, yet so far.
I awoke on Tuesday after Sandy, lying there in bed, thankful the roof was still on, windows intact, we were still alive and I was longing for a hot cup of coffee, musing at how bizarre my thought process is and just how addicted I had become throughout the years to that first jolt of caffeine, even in a crisis.
Sofi and I (still in my fuzzy slippers and bathrobe) cautiously stepped out the door so she could do her business, contemplating if I should travel further to see if my car was still there, but the heavens opened up before me. My next door neighbor was coming up the path with a thermos of hot coffee in his hand. If God himself had been there I couldn’t have been happier. He had a generator,heat and best of all HOT coffee.
It took me a full day to get the courage to walk further down the path to the car port. It was gone. My car was okay. Some of the house roof overhang was stripped of its top layer and a few roof shingles lay scattered about. A big old tree was down on my slope. Luckily it fell away from the house. A branch went through the cottage roof, making a repairable hole, but that was all. In the forty hears of hurricanes I have had worse. Andrew tore away my roof, in another my dining room collapsed, so I was grateful for the miracle of surviving Sandy’s 90 mile an hour plus winds.
In spite of everything have learned a lot from Sandy. How to make coffee and heat things in a coffee cup on top of a round dish of tea candles, held above the flames by a french fry cutter. (Don’t ask). All of this MacGyver stuff until we could get wood into the house for the fireplace and built-in stove.
The best is that I have rediscovered the joy of both conversation and silence. Withdrawing from the internet, texting and cell phone. Experiencing real time with my grandson and neighbors. Remembering the importance of human connection and the basics of giving and sharing. Forgetting the stress of the election, world chaos and all the negativity it had been evoking on my psyche.
This Sunday morning at 2:30 a.m., eight days into darkness, the furnace started running. I took off my cozy red hat and big sleep mask that were keeping my head and face warm in the cold and gave my hot water bottle, Sofi, a big hug. Life is good. The trees around me almost bent to the ground, but they are still here. So am I.
I now know the entire East Coast has been hit hard by Sandy, especially New Jersey, and many have lost their homes and lives. I pray for them all. The boardwalks and houses in the low shore lands are gone. But we New Jersey folks are used to surviving nature’s wrath. We will rebuild. We will survive.
The sound of helicopters is constant as they survey and photograph our misery, but there is always a silver lining in the midst of darkness. We just have to keep remembering that again it will be It will be.