This I Believe

Gerald - Bokeelia, Florida
Entered on February 17, 2007

I have always believed that every little thing is going to be all right, but it took a rose to deliver this message in a time of true desperation.

We were hunkered down in our kitchen when the hurricane hit at noon. The storm went from a Cat 2 to a Cat 3. Then it spun into a 4 and a 5. Finally, it crossed over our small island, and went on up the coast.

My wife and I came out of our house and we gazed at the smashed world that steamed and dripped, and that lay bruised and broken for as far as we could see.

We didn’t know, at first, whether to laugh or cry–the devastation was that complete. A portion of our house was gone. Another portion was under water. Telephone poles were down everywhere, snapped off like twigs, strung out in the air on wires that sparked, and the air smelled of ozone and crushed leaves.

I saw something that looked like a pirate’s galleon upended in our pond. It was a chunk of our house. And I saw a carpenter’s level driven right through a tree. I stopped looking after that. Things were out of order and out of whack.

However, I had to the outside of our home. No doubt, it would take a lot of patience and even more money than we’d ever get from insurance to repair it. Our new roof looked like the thatch on Shakespeare’s cottage, all rumply and wind-rippled. The fallen trees that had made a Garden of Eden out of our front yard were all down and bleeding sap and with them every power line leading into our house was dragged to the earth and snapped cleanly off.

Then I saw the rose. It was a neglected, withered little bush that we never tended because we believed it was dead. Maybe it was, but not now. The tiny tree was ablaze with a huge red rose.

Then–another amazing thing—our phone rang.

I ran inside, picked up the receiver. A warm voice greeted me, “Hello, Family.” It was Kelvin, one of our dearest friends. “How did you get through?” I asked. Kelvin just laughed. “Love gets through,” he replied.” I told him our phone line wasn’t connected anymore.

“Love connects,” Kelvin said, reassuringly. Then I told him about the brave rose that bloomed during the hurricane. And he made me promise to praise the rose and talk to it every day. “Good things will come of it,” he advised. Shortly after this, the phone fizzled.

So…the first time I spoke aloud to the rose, I have to admit, I felt a little self-conscious. The second time, I spoke without looking over my shoulder. Now, each day, rain or shine, I talk to the little tree that defied a Cat 5 hurricane by sending out a bright blossom of ruby red.

I have always believed that every little thing is going to be all right. But it was more believing than knowing. Now I really know, and I thank the rose, and my old friend Kelvin, for reminding me that life is where you least expect it and hope is everywhere you forgot to look.

–Gerald Hausman