Here was a sweet message my friend Krystal Westbrook Minor wrote on my Facebook wall:
I just can’t express my gratitude for these kids – so many hands working – doing such HARD things.
Thankful for the adults coming along side them teaching and encouraging them.
Thankful to being able to see the younger ones playing in the yard- knowing that little sense of normalcy is so very important for their own processing and healing.
There is still a long road ahead for so many friends I know and even more I will never even meet, but my prayer tonight is that communities everywhere will come together and be the hands and hearts capable to walk along side them through all of it.
Update Wed 10/5- 3AM
We had a good friend come to be with our kids today. Our kids had a good day! Painted nails, played games, snuggled a baby (ok a toddler)..
It really does feel like a vacation when I enter my friend’s condo. We aren’t doing vacation things, but there is a similar feeling of when you come in from a full day and you just want to take a shower and sit…
If I’m honest, I’m getting nervous, I don’t know how we all will do when we wake up and go to sleep outside of our house on a regular basis. Our time at the condo is ending. The place isn’t available for us to continue staying, we knew it.. we kinda were in denial. My little guy has told me many time how much he loves it here and tonight we sat outside for a bit staring at the moon and watching the clouds before bed. He shared some scary feelings with the hurricane too.
It’s cathartic to talk about trauma with others who get you. It can be uncomfortable to the person listening, especially if they themselves haven’t talked about their own trauma over the years. People need to tell their stories. People need others who are willing to enter into the pain and mess of life and sit with them in it.
Today as I drove down the road toward our house, I sobbed. Mostly because I had not really sobbed yet, maybe because our kids weren’t with us, or just because my body needed a release at that moment. There’s a pretty steady pace of hard uncontrollable things around me.
I was going to demo the bathroom today! I left this afternoon ready. The van we had dried out and I had just driven the night before to ballet with the kids decided it was done. It flashed every light available and then shook.
I wasn’t prepared for the vehicle mess I was faced with. I spent the afternoon with a roller coaster of emotions. The insurance company wanted to pick up both our cars and have them assessed (though they said they would be basically ”totaled”) .. no problem.. they cover a rental… except it was a problem … NO WHERE IN ALL OF FL are there rental cars. I’m so serious. Multiple places told me they have been influxed with volunteers for mostly ft Meyer and they have sent all the cars there. At first, I was really glad there were so many volunteers and then reality hit and my middle kid-ness felt the weight of it; that means those who need cars HERE can’t have one. I have never felt the weight of having the financial (aka insurance stipend) means to provide for my family and being told no you can not! I sobbed. I wasn’t ready for another reality that was just a lot to take in. It was also so uncomfortable that the guy on the phone kept telling me to let it all out.. I almost gave him a cheeky “let it all out” type response but decided to just say.. well thank you for being honest with the reality and ended the call as quickly as possible. I wish I could forget that one specific call, because it was the most awkward I’ve felt in a long time! Ha.
Then I got a new text that the RV trailer a friend was going to let us use was blocked by tree branches and they weren’t sure if they could get it to us. I sobbed again. Then jumped into organizing all the people to move the branches tomorrow morning.
I saw countless neighbors just almost pacing outside, not really making any significant “progress” on their houses. We spoke to a few and one thing that stood out to me.. in all the convos with neighbors, each person was willing to offer to help, even though they themselves were in need of help. It was crazy. I can’t judge motives nor do I want to but there’s something hard wired in us to have compassion and empathy for others and a desire to be cared for, seen, and loved in community. It’s hard to be seen and to be in the vunerable party on the receiving end of needing all the help.
I’m definitely learning a lot about asking these last few days!
I never got to take apart the bathroom today, but I did get to talk to neighbors and it was still a full day!
Tomorrow we anticipate a few friends coming to help and I’m so grateful! We need friends to be with us and to help us. The smell in the house is getting stronger and it’s feeling like we really need to get those kitchen and bathroom cabinets out asap!
We do have a bunch of needs for immediate house demo still, I’ll list here
-need a handful more plastic totes. Clear would be most helpful now since the last items are ones that we will need close by and seeing items is way easier!
– ear plugs
And here’s the immediate-ish amazon list. We know we will be in an RV trailer on our property soon. We don’t really know how long, but I know at least a couple weeks. And I can’t really live beyond that right now anyway!
I’ll update another list when I know more about what we need when we start living nearer to home. I’m looking forward to living with my neighbors again!
-for a vehicle that we can borrow since there aren’t any rentals (and/or some creative solutions to this. Insurance covers $50 a day so we could get a minivan or something large to fit our family)
-for significant progress on the bathrooms and kitchen this week and maybe even finish the gutting this weekend so we can start the 2-3 week drying out process soon!
-for us to be able to live life with a balance of connection and task.
-for awareness of what our kids need and balance.
-for good nights of sleep and better boundaries of our time around that too..
– that our flood insurance company would get their system back up and running and processing claims asap.
– That we would be able to get our van towed to Honda and that maybe it would be a quicker fix verses throwing out a vehicle into the dump.. it feels so waste full and unnecessary if it can be fixed.
Tonight, my heart is full and I feel so carried by my community of people near and far! And I’m excited to tackle tomorrow (or later today at this point! ) also YOU are still a rockstar for reading this far!
Update 1pm Tuesday :
Some really cool things and some hard things!
My one friend has come to be with my kids for a normal day in the condo while john and I assess house and pause to grieve together.
A new friend out this way offered her RV for us to use for a couple weeks (maybe more) for normalcy with our kids close to house!
Just now our van that (was submerged) we thought we aired it by ripping apart and letting it dry out and let water out.. just started shaking and flashing all the lights.. I drove it yesterday with kids because it seemed like no lights were flashing and it was doing OK.. today it crashed. I’m waiting on car insurance and while we thought we saved the car by putting on stilts it now stinks and had some water coming out of the exhaust.. I need to make a new claim there too. But for now it’s running and nothing is flashing.. so we do what we can!! Good news it’s now 70s in FL so windows can be down.
This feels like a big ask!
Does anyone have a truck we can use with a hitch and extended cab for our fam?! Our van was our tow vehicle and that’s done. The Prius I’m surprised isn’t fried but I guess I don’t regret lifting it when it started flooding! We will see what happens next because it smells and it’s been airing out!
NO RENTALS anywhere in FL right now everything was sent to FT Meyers and all the volunteers flying in to help. Thank you really but the “reg people need cars too!”
I don’t know how long insurance will take. but we will need to hitch up an RV to dump (sewage) every week as well. So a truck feels like a need. We might even be able to figure out how to pay for a hitch to be installed on a truck if that needs to be..
I’m doing Ok but treading water and realizing that surprises aren’t my fav thing right now!
Now that we know we have an RV option I feel like I can finally creat a list knowing we have a plan. .. and it’s ok to live day by day.. though I hate it SO much!
More later tonight for sure.. but if ya know of a truck.. just call or text
Update: 3AM Tuesday 10/4 .. today I swore I was going to bed at a normal hour.. I think I might just have to yell uncle!
We did some “normal” things today!
Overall up to this point has felt like a lot. My kids needed to sleep in, they needed quiet, they needed to be really seen by smaller numbers. It almost felt like the eye of the hurricane.. the calm in the middle.. it was super weird to be in my house without people everywhere!
Having a disaster includes LOTs of coordinating and paper pushing.. it can feel so transaction like and less human. I am a little bit stuck and a little bit just dragging. I feel totally affirmed in my ambivert ness! (Look it up if ya don’t know.. it’s like the middle kid of extrovert and introvert!)
I cleared/boxed my bathroom in silence and alone.. and it was totally OK! Though it was a weird feeling seeing only 2 people in my house with me, it was perhaps a needed thing too!
I took my daughter to ballet and went to Publix to get milk for our family… like a normal monday afternoon/evening.
I snuck in a phone call to a good friend and she told me she will be praying for me to look for the fun; that I would laugh more and experience glimpses of just pure joy! I write this post knowing many of my friends aren’t sure what they think about God and I totally understand that, sometimes I’m not sure either if I kick and scream, run away, or sit close.
Regardless, God delivered that!
My ballerina continued to show me all the things they did in class and how much fun it was helping in the “baby” class afterward, with the biggest smiles and the brightest face.. she was glowing! My little guy and I got alone time while she was in ballet and he ended his night in the tub with a can of sparkling water- making me the best mom ever because he could drink in the tub! AND my middle was able to have a less busy afternoon with just one friend who spent a few hours with her without siblings. She got to learn and play this new game she got yesterday… and then proceeded to teach me and kick my butt .. which ensued lots of belly laughs ! Each of the kids looked more like themselves today and less like the kids who weren’t sure what was what…
I’m hopeful and still exhausted all in one. I have a list of items to do that include what I feel like is busy work.. and I don’t really want to do.. claim stuff and lists for insurance, etc.. and today we discovered though the car that didn’t flood in the garage like the van .. it did in fact actually get water on carpets and so far it’s just an awful smell.. but one more thing..
I did start an Amazon list.. I’m kinda waiting to see if we will be able to rent/borrow a RV/trailer or if we will stay in an Airbnb etc. because some of my items include things like towels for the family. I also have been battling my need to be understood in producing a list for “needs” because I haven’t decided if i will include things like an iPad.. I hate being misunderstood and this feels like a place that this can happen very easily!!! Even in this post I want to say why (because I put it out there).. and I think it takes more courage to pause.. I personally call this moment a “courageous pause”
What’s happening? I remember the first time I read something from Henry Cloud and he said something like if you have some “big feels” (my words not his) about a situation that doesn’t typically warrant that.. then likely there’s more there to explore.. darn you cloud! Ya aren’t wrong !!
So I could just “get over myself” and add the items and be done.. or I could explore a bit more about what is this bringing up for me.. whenelse have I felt these feelings? And honestly .. if you’ve read other posts.. sometimes I just decide yup too much .. wheres that bin for this one for another day.. both are totally acceptable for me to choose.. so I’ll choose something and you’ll see a list soonish!
But really I gotta reign in the late night bedtimes!
Also FYI our needs from yesterday are still needs.
Same for prayers, but I’ll add for John and I to find time to regroup together and to choose each other .. because this disaster marathon has an end(at some point!) and we both would say we want to finish the race together and not so bloody and bruised.. or dragging the other.. great analogy right?!
Ahh and local friends – if anyone is coming tomorrow can you let me know? I can’t remember if anyone is.. I’ll be at the house but maybe not so early (unless you are..) since ya know it’s 3am now!
Thanks for reading, you are my rockstar!