Think of all of your friends. Now, which ones do you think will be there when it really counts? Now think of your family. I believe that family will always be there for me. Through thick and thin, curdled milk, and anything in between, they’ll be there.
Every summer, we would have a ‘Geauthreaux family reunion’. All of my dad’s brothers and sisters and their kids would fly down to New Orleans, or, if they already lived there, which most of them did, just bunch up and make some space for the rest of us. Then we’d rent a few condos on the beach and stay there for about a week. Navarre Beach was our favorite. It was three hours away on the pan-handle of Florida and absolute heaven. Except for the fact that billions of jelly fish thought so too. Gosh, do I hate jellyfish. Anyways, we’d do that every summer, usually late July or early August. Tradition.
My family and I had just gotten home from the ‘reunion’ when the warnings started. It was a hurricane. It was big. It was bad. It was headed straight for New Orleans. For my family. It was called Katrina. That was all we talked about forever. Or that’s how it seemed. In my mind, it was the “Never Ending Beast (N.E.B. for short) Duh, duh, duh, duhhhhhh!”.
I remember the five-hour phone calls between my dad and his family, with his LOUD brother, his hard-hearing parents, his equally hard-hearing aunt, his three sisters, and his extremely talkative younger brother. That’s what all talk was centered on: N.E.B. All the stress, most of the phone calls, and most of the talk; all about N.E.B.
Then N.E.B hit. It literally and utterly blew apart and destroyed anything in her path, and anything she couldn’t, she flooded. Like the city of New Orleans, for example. Luckily, most of my family evacuated. My aunt’s house was two blocks from the worst levy breach. Her house was history. So were my aunt’s houses. My other aunt got off with damage. And my grandparent’s house hardly suffered at all.
My parents went down to help my aunt gut her house. The whole while the news was obsessed with N.E.B. That was the main story they ran. N.E.B lived up to her name in more than one way. We were getting pictures from family. And videos. And phone calls. And stories. All about N.E.B!
Then life went almost back to normal, although N.E.B was never far from our minds, but we had to continue on with our lives. Most of my family moved away. Some not far away, just relocated, but some as far away as Vermont.
Then it was time for our annual ‘Geauthreaux family reunion’. We went…it was horrible. We went everywhere we once knew. It was destroyed. Gone. Completely. I took picture after picture on my little disposable camera. Of my dad’s old house, my mom’s old house, my aunt’s old house, the old bridges, old stores, old restaurants, everything. Old roads, old parks…everything! Some of it wasn’t too bad and had survived. But most of it was gone. All of my childhood memory places from New Orleans. Gone. All because of N.E.B.
We slowly trundled out to my grandma and grandpa’s house. None of us were our usual cheerful selves. In my family you get a few extra senses. Our 6th since is that we can talk very loud basically 24/7 without getting a sore throat. Our 7th since is that we can find any people within a mile of ourselves. Ok flashback time…for my dad and step mommy’s wedding my cousin, my brother, my friend and I went walking up a creek for like a mile. But we still knew where everyone was. It’s like we have super sensitive selective hearing. Anyways, back to reality. So, we stayed there for a few days, and then moved on to the beach.
That’s when I got the surprise. I hadn’t expected anything to be wrong with it. I was too focused on the city to give it much thought. On the whole three hour ride up, I had only been thinking about New Orleans, family, vacations, and fun. Ok, another flashback moment. Sorry. Anyways, one year at the beach, we, meaning my cousins and brothers and I, were playing sugar packet. It’s a game we made up where you sit on this huge blowup mattress like raft and someone pulls you through huge monster waves. Then when you hit the wave, you would fly off backwards, like a sugar packet from a spoon. It was just oodles of fun! One time when about five of my cousins and my brothers were on the mattress, with me in the sugar packet spot (the pillow) we hit a HUGE MONSTER wave. I went flying over everyone’s head and landed in the water on the other side. But only after I did a front flip. I hit my head on the bottom and almost drowned. Ahhhh good times, good times. Okay I’m back. So I never expected anything to be wrong with the beach.
When I stepped out of the car, nothing appeared wrong. As usual, I ran up to the condo as fast as I could to take a look around and slip into my bathing suit so I could rush down to the beach. Then I sprinted to the balcony for my annual preview before my headlong rush to the sand. I hurried out, looked down…and gasped.
“Holy guacamole with chips on the side!”
N.E.B had left her mark. The pier was literally split in half. The beginning and end were still there, but the middle was gone. The beach was flat and strewn with sharp shells. Still. The sandbar was gone, or at least moved out farther.
I couldn’t believe it. I started snapping pictures like mad, one after another. The only thought registered in my head was WOW! That’s all. Just one simple !WOW! I mean, what else could I think?
I ran down and across the sand. It didn’t look so bad from down here. I tried to ignore it, but it was hard. The whole week my eyes were drawn to the splintered pier. Then I went home.
This is one of the many examples I’ve had that life can change in an instant. It’s not up to us. Never get too comfortable, because it can all disappear like that. This experience also helped me realize that family is always there for me. They’re family, and I believe that we’re always there for each other; to always be there for support, laughs, fun, memories, help, and crying. Don’t forget fights. But no matter what, they are there. That’s what counts.
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