One of the most emotional images I have seen recently on the news coverage of the hurricane came from a father who had lost his home. The reporter was interviewing him about the loss when the father said that his daughter kept saying to him over and over, “Daddy, I want to go home. I just want to go home.” His eyes filled with tears as he told the reporter that his daughter was only six and had no way of understanding what had happened.
I thought about my granddaughters. One had just turned seven and the other one is three. Wednesday they were out trick-or-treating in California and life was normal for them. But suppose, I thought, they had lost everything in an earthquake or other natural disaster. How can small children handle such catastrophes? As adults, we don’t have good answers for them.
Last night as I snuggled under the covers watching the latest hurricane news coverage, I felt guilty. Of course, we have had to endure power outages before, sometimes more than a week. Once after an ice storm we left home with our pets and stayed in a motel for several days. Still I have never gone without food or water. I have sat in the dark and the cold, but I had my house and my possessions. I have never had to go through a dumpster to find food. I feel totally helpless, especially when I think about the children.
Giving money doesn’t seem to be enough. I want to drive down to the Jersey shore where my oldest daughter is and help. She lives just outside of Atlantic City and while her condo was not flooded or damaged and her power has been restored, she is surrounded by loss everywhere. I want to be with her. I want to bring toys to the children, water and food to the adults, as I am sure we all do.
Many events in my life recently have caused a major writer’s block for me. Not even a block really, just a tiredness, a deep depression, a disinterest in struggling to find words to express my emotions. The images of the hurricane won’t bring to me a poem. Words that often come to me in the middle of the night or in the early hours of morning fail me now as I am mesmerized by the television coverage of the tragic circumstances of so many Americans. The ordinary events of my life seem wrong. The warmth of my home and the food and water available to me seem wrong. I long to hug my grandchildren as I pray they will never have to face such hardships as that little six-year-old child who just wants to go home.