Recovering from the Storm

Ingrid - ypsilanti, Michigan
Entered on March 18, 2009

I believe storms are remarkable, and without them, perseverance would have a new definition.

Surrounding all of us are storms brewing in the distance, waiting to perform their dances. Bolts of lightening dive from the sky giving us a light show better than fireworks while thunder roars with all of its might sending intense vibrations along our chests. Then, the silent destructor emerges. Rain pours down and floods parts of earth like an empty swimming pool waiting to be filled.

I have experienced many thunderstorms in my lifetime. Some were mild. Most were moderate to severe. But, there were several instances in my life that led to the formation of hurricanes, tornadoes and, in rare cases, blizzards.

When I was 18 years old, I was forced to deal with my first tragedy. My brother had finally lost his battle with diabetes and hepatitis while I was away on a tour of duty with the Navy. The moment the news reached me I felt as if I had been hit with a violent snow storm. Like a walking through a blizzard, my visibility was low, my breathing became unbalanced and my body felt like a heavy icicle preparing to fall from the gutter and shatter on the ground. After that storm, my life and aspirations became the grass beneath the blanket of stark white snow. The winter was long.

Over time, I learned the importance of perseverance. The education came at an early age; nonetheless, I was thankful for the strength. I finished my tour of duty with the Navy and became optimistic about the future.

Later, I held a dream job as a flight attendant, began to plan a wedding and share a home with my fiancé, netted a six-figure combined income, and had my own apartment on the side. Our “toys” came with motors and gears and Lake Michigan was our playground. Casinos were my drug of choice and Las Vegas was my pipe. I was finally happy. The snow began to melt and blades of grass peaked through the icy blanket. Then, without a forecast, the hurricane hit. It was a category five storm.

In one week, I lost my job, my apartment, my lifestyle, my optimism, and my fiancé called the wedding off. Eventually, he called the relationship off too. The gusts of wind from this storm slammed me into walls, picked me up and dropped me from the sky. I tried to hurry to shelter, but I could not pry the doors open before the tornadoes landed. The tornadoes swept through my life destroying everything I had worked for. They demolished all of my dreams and transformed my happy home into simple debris. And, when the storm was over, I was left with absolutely nothing.

I am still recovering from that storm, but I am no longer bitter. I understand that, in our lives, storms are necessary for growth. When a violent storm flattens a community, those affected begin to rebuild with stronger structures. They begin to value life with more conviction. Plants and other signs of life begin to sprout from the ruins as if to tell us: “life goes on.”

I believe that storms are phenomenal because if you choose to weather it, you become phenomenal too.