A Healing Writing
It has been eight years since Hurricane Andrew swept across South Florida, shredding homes, businesses, lives.Looking now, it takes a practiced eye to recognize the wreckage from a hurricane. So much of what has not been rebuilt looks like the scars that any city wears. After all, every city has empty buildings in disrepair. Every city has businesses that fall. (OK, maybe not quite so literally).
It has been three years since Hannah came into our lives, then abruptly out again.I can't say that the destruction to my soul was any less than a thirty mile wide hurricane. But there is something I have learned.
One of the most shocking things to me after Hurricane Andrew was the defoliation. Every tree that was left standing was stripped bare of leaves. Most trees were tipped right out of their roots onto the ground. They looked like birthday candles, plucked from their places, then dropped back onto the cake.We knew it would take days to clear the roads. We knew it would take weeks to clean up the mess and assess the damage. We knew that it would take months to rebuild houses, businesses, schools. But the trees....they would take years.
It wasn't just the trees, either. The ground had been saturated with salt water, then baked under an unforgiving sun. Grass, bushes, carefully cultivated plants all shriveled and curled inward. Our tropical paradise turned brown and gray. I expected the trees that were left standing would soon die from the damage they had suffered. It seemed we would never be the same again.
A funny thing happened as the weeks went by. New green leaves pushed themselves out from the skeletal trees. Having lost so many branches, they found new places to form new shoots. So many of the trees looked like fuzzy green caterpillars, as they found new ways to grow. A way to heal. Then something really strange happened. With the loss of green canopy, the sun found its way into places it had not touched for many years. It found seeds that had lain dormant for years. It woke them up. Wildflowers covered the ground. Vibrant colors spread themselves around caterpillar trees, pushed themselves up through rubble and debris. No, it wasn't the same.These were not the highly cultivated plants we were used to. No pampered orchids, these.But there was beauty there that we hadn't seen before. And it brought with it a new kind of hope.
When Hannah died, I felt stripped of life. I moved numbly through my days and tossed restlessly through my nights. I felt like one of those trees after the storm, stripped bare, left broken, baking under a relentless sun. There was no relief, no hope. I could not understand how a broken heart could keep beating, tho I willed it a thousand times to stop. The emptiness was relentless. My arms literally ached with the absence of my baby. I knew I would never be the same again. The carefully cultivated plans were scattered to the winds. The hopes and dreams we had nourished and tended were shattered and shredded.
But then, I found the wildflowers. New leaves of hope, tender shoots of understanding and compassion that had been buried under years of shadow, started to find their way to the surface. A softly spoken word, an understanding shoulder, awakened seeds in me that had been dormant far too long. Out of these broken dreams sprung new shoots of hope, appreciation, tenderness. And a realization that this tiny life had left a deep impression on my soul. That I had been touched in a deep and personal way that would never change, would never blow away. I found that some of my friends were nothing more than demanding orchids, needing constant maintenance and attention to draw a bloom, while others bloom the brightest when the clouds roll in. I've learned that some of the greatest blossoms in my life have come from unexpected places, unexpected people. I've learned to pull on resources deep within myself to find new ways to branch out, new places to grow. And I've learned that some of the greatest blessings are the ones we don't plan for.
I would never wish for anyone to have to face a hurricane. But it can be survived. In fact, if you look, you may find it leaves behind some surprising gifts.As the years have gone by, the trees have come back. New trees have been planted, and the canopy has returned. There are still scars. There will always be scars. But there will also be wildflowers.