A Little Girl’s Memories

Recently I attended the memorial service for a friend. My husband and I had actually helped with the couple’s wedding some eight years ago and had wonderful memories of their special day. You could tell how much they loved each other, and how excited they were to begin their new life together. All of their pictures featured big smiles and joyous laughter in anticipation of their new beginning together.

And they were very happy. They had two beautiful children, a daughter and then a son. Dad would tell everyone how lucky he was and how long he’d waited for this family of his; how proud he was of his wife and kids. He’d talk about all the things he did with them; and all the things he was looking forward to doing with his children as they got older. Taking his son fishing for the first time, and taking his little girl to her first daddy-daughter dance.

Now that’s all changed. Future plans will never happen. Because Daddy unexpectedly passed away just a few weeks after his little girl started first grade.

We all felt so bad for his widow, who’d lost the love of her life. We felt even sadder for his children who’d never have the opportunity to really know what a loving father they’d been blessed with.

As I sat at this man’s memorial service I couldn’t take my eyes off his children, sitting in the front row between their mom and their aunt, wearing their best clothes and looking, shall I say, a bit lost. And I wondered what they were thinking. Particularly his daughter.

You see, I knew quite a bit about what she was feeling. Because almost sixty years ago I was that little girl. And I have to say, even after all those years, the memories came flooding back.

It’s just not something you forget. Even as a child, such memories don’t totally fade with time. Even when your child’s mind doesn’t totally process it at the time, those memories are always there.

Sadly, our friend’s three year old son will most likely only remember his daddy because of photos and stories told by his mom and other family members. He’s just too young to really remember.

But his six year old daughter will be a different story.

She’s old enough to know that her dad is gone; that he’s not coming back home anymore. She knows he’s in heaven with the Lord, because she’s been told that many times; and she’s been taught that in Sunday School.

But she doesn’t understand it. Not really. She has a lot of questions that she doesn’t even know how to ask.

Well-meaning people have probably told her that her daddy is with the angels. Some may even have told her that her daddy is an angel now; that God needed another one so he took her dad because he was so special. Sometimes she worries that God might need another angel and take her to heaven as well, and she doesn’t think she’s ready for that. They often tell her how Daddy is watching over her and her little brother from up in heaven, hoping to make her feel better.

And this little girl nods her head as if she understands. But she doesn’t; not really. Her child’s mind just can’t totally comprehend all of it.

Even those of us who are mature in our faith sometimes have trouble understanding when it’s our loved one who’s passed away.

But there are things his daughter will remember when she’s older. It’s amazing, really, the things that stay with you. Things that may seem insignificant at the time will forever linger in your memory, and come out at the most unexpected times.

She’ll remember a few scattered times of fun, just between the two of them. Walking in the woods and talking about nothing important, except to them. Helping him put up the Christmas tree while mommy made dinner. The times he’d tuck her into bed at night and tell her how much he loved her as he kissed good night.

She’ll remember the last time she saw her dad, lying in a hospital bed with machines attached to him; she’ll remember that it just didn’t seem like the man she knew as “daddy”, and eventually she’ll wonder if it was really him.

She’ll also remember the exact words her mother said to her when she told her that her beloved daddy was gone. In fact, that’s one sentence she’ll remember for the rest of her life, and she’ll hear it in her mind over and over, as clearly and distinctly as if it were being spoken all over again.

That’s one sentence a child can’t forget. I haven’t. Because whether that child totally understands or not, she knows in her heart that things have suddenly and irreversibly changed.

Sadly, like me, his daughter won’t have years and years of memories to make with her dad. Many of the few memories she had will fade, and try as she might, they’ll never come back the way she’d like them to.

But she’ll always remember that day on the front row in that church, and remember how people were talking about her daddy, and how her mother kept trying not to cry, and so did she, because she wanted to be brave like her mommy.

I sadly have no remembrances of my dad’s service, because when he died I was quite sick and unable to attend. And children didn’t always go to funerals back then, even for their parents. But I remember the days immediately following his death and all the people who came to the house, talking to my mom and me, telling us how sorry they were. I, too, tried not to cry and be strong for my mother.

Because I just didn’t understand at the time what it all meant, and how it would affect my life. But there were a lot of nights afterwards that I lay in bed, curled in my mother’s arms as we comforted each other, and cried. And his daughter will, too.

She’ll feel terribly sad at Father’s Day and look at all the cards she’ll never be able to give to him, because he’s gone. And she’ll wish the day would hurry and get here so it could go away.

There will most likely be times she’ll imagine that her daddy didn’t really die; that he got sick and people took him somewhere else to live because he wasn’t going to get better, and he didn’t want his family to see him so sick. She’ll probably daydream about finding him one day, and how happy they’ll both be to find each other again.

Yes, I did that, too. And I imagine many other children do as well.

There will be lots of times she’ll be envious of her friends who still have their fathers, who go places with them. She’ll feel uncomfortable when an uncle takes her to the daddy-daughter dance at school instead of her father; or she won’t go at all because she’ll be secretly jealous of the other girls whose fathers were there with them.

There will also be the day when she’s ready to walk down the aisle on her wedding day. She’ll be so excited, but she’ll still feel a sense of loss that can’t be described, except by other daughters who’ve been there as well. And she’ll shed an extra tear because her daddy can’t walk her down the aisle. Her brother will stand in for him, but it won’t be the same.

Yes, all of these thoughts went through my mind that day, and I so wanted to take that little girl in my arms and hug her, hold her, and tell her she’ll be all right. That even in the lonesome times, the sad times when memories rush at you so quickly you’re not prepared for the impact; the times you see someone who reminds you of him, or see another daughter with her father and you want to be her…just for a second or two; to tell her in those tough times you’ll be ok. It won’t be easy, but you’ll be ok.

The death of a parent or a spouse…or even worse, a child…is an unimaginable pain. But when you’re just a little child, and you lose a parent, it’s a grief like no other. And sometimes it takes years before you can fully and totally grieve for them. For me it took almost 50 years, when while cleaning out my mother’s house I found the sympathy cards and funeral book she’d kept from that time so long ago. I read each card, and surprisingly remembered who some of some of the senders were, and read the names of the attendees. And I cried.

And cried some more. And finally, I truly grieved for my daddy.

I pray this little girl will have a much easier time as she goes through the next weeks and months. My heart goes out to her and her little brother as well. Yes, and to their mom. But those children…and that little girl…

Because I know what’s ahead for her.

And Suddenly…There Was Nothing

Like many of you we have been closely following the effects of the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean, Florida, and Texas. Yes, it’s awful.

Devastating.

Catastrophic.

We’re almost glued to our tv’s watching the scenes of hopeless devastation. Destroyed buildings and houses. Cars smashed and overturned. Uprooted trees everywhere. Water streaming down streets and into the bartered remnants of homes. A few people walking amidst the rubble, looking for remnants of anything to salvage, a look of helpless bewilderment on their faces.

The entire island of Puerto Rico has no power. None. We’re told it will likely be up to six months before it’s completely restored. Not days. Not weeks. Months. That would be sometime in March of 2018.

There is no fresh water for drinking, let alone bathing. Water is now a precious commodity that is likely to be hoarded by those lucky enough to have any. We’re told it will be some three weeks before the water supply can be restored.

Communication towers are down. There’s currently almost no way to reach loved ones there to see if they’re ok. A friend of our daughter has most of her family there; she’s seen pictures of the area where they lived and it’s destroyed. She finally heard from them in a two minute call from a military phone two days later, and is so relieved to know they’re ok!

My husband talked to a man the other day whose wife and their 6 children are there, as well as his in-laws. He hasn’t been able to reach them, and is praying they’re all right as well.

How would you feel if it were your family? I’m sure many of you reading this have family and friends there. And you know exactly how they feel.

The airports are closed. They’re trying to get them restored enough so food and other supplies and emergency crews can be brought in, and people can be evacuated. But with only generators for power, many parts of the airports flooded out, and runways littered with debris, this certainly will be difficult, to say the least. Not to mention the lack of fuel or insufficient ways to communicate safely with the pilots from the tower.

It’s a horrific situation to watch…and most likely we haven’t begun to see and hear about all of the devastation, because we’re not there, and there are really no good ways to fully communicate what is actually going on to the outside world.

And over these next few days, sadly, tragically, many may die from lack of medicine, water, food, and exposure. They may die from injuries sustained from the storm, or from trying to help others. These are real people, who had normal lives just a week or so ago.

Now it’s all gone.

We just can’t watch any more.

So we turn off our tv, and go upstairs to get ready for bed, the pictures of this latest disaster still in our minds.

Think about that for a moment.

We have a tv that works because we have electricity. Those hit by the storm don’t. Their tv’s are most likely gone, as well as the local tv stations. And broadcast towers and transmitters.

We go into our bathrooms and brush our teeth and wash our faces. We change into our pajamas. The storm

Victims now have no running water. No way to brush their teeth or wash their faces or flush a toilet. Most likely their only clothes left are the ones they’re wearing.

We get into our comfortable beds between crisp sheets and blankets. The storm survivors are most likely sleeping either on floors, of if they’re lucky, on cots in a makeshift shelter, and certainly without sheets or blankets.

We wake up the next morning safe and secure in our homes, and begin grumbling about the chores ahead of us that day, like grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning the house…. While the storm victims have no homes left. No grocery stores to go to. No laundry to do because everything is gone. Everything. Their homes and all of their possessions. They have to totally start their lives over with only the clothes on their back.

Shall I continue?

Have we become that complacent and forgetful?

The answer is yes, and I’m just as guilty. Because it’s unfortunately human nature for most of us. We take for granted what we have, even after viewing such mass destruction. We’re thankful it’s not us. We donate money for relief efforts, but we really can’t understand what the storm victims are going through. Even imagining in our minds, it’s just not possible.

What would you do if that happened to you? Personally I cannot answer that question, because my mind just cannot comprehend it.

But it does make me stop and think about how very, very fortunate I am. How fortunate my family and friends are.

It also makes me realize that in a split second, or a few hours, it could all change due to circumstances we cannot even begin to control.

Don’t be complacent about your life; your family and friends; your possessions. We are not promised tomorrow, and during such times as we are seeing in the aftermath of these storms, we can clearly begin to see what’s important and what’s not. Petty arguments, perceived offenses over names and statues, not getting a promotion at work, people’s lifestyles you don’t agree with, not having the latest model car or the biggest home on your block…such things in the scheme of life suddenly don’t matter any more. Survival does.

If suddenly almost all you had was taken from you, if you were left with only the clothes on your back, with no food, no place to live, no money and no job to go back to, what would you do?

Think about it, and appreciate what you still have. Because if could still happen to us as well.

If you wish to help with hurricane relief efforts, there are a number of websites that are taking donations. Be sure the one you select is legitimate, as there are unfortunately some out there trying to take advantage of these disasters for their own self interests. Brave members of disaster teams are already there or on their way to help, and we thank each and every one of them, because what they are doing is not easy.

Thank you all for any help you can offer in this relief effort.

Counting Your Blessings

“I have nothing to wear!” said the young woman pulling through her closet, discarding outfit after outfit because she didn’t like them any more. “I’m going to have to go shopping right away!”

“We have almost nothing to wear,” said the mother of three young children who fled the recent hurricane in Florida, with only a hastily packed bag of clothes and medications, baby formula and a few toys. Her home was almost destroyed and their belongings that were left behind are scattered to who knows where? “We have almost no money to get anything right now. I hope the Red Cross can help us.”

“Chicken again? We had that two nights ago! I don’t want the same thing again. What else do we have? I don’t want pork chops, and I don’t want spaghetti. There’s just nothing in this refrigerator good to eat. Let’s go out somewhere. Maybe to that new steakhouse, where we can order whatever we want.” Obviously her refrigerator- and stove – are working fine. She just doesn’t want the food she has in her kitchen, and probably doesn’t care if it goes to waste.

Compare that to this: a family in one of the hurricane refugee centers waiting for their evening meal of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and lukewarm water because that’s all there is until more supplies arrive the next day. They’d love to have a nice chicken or spaghetti dinner. But right now they’re just happy to have food until they can go back to their home. And hopefully they’ll still have a kitchen they can use and food to prepare in it.

“I’m really tired of this car! I don’t like the color, and I don’t like the model any more. It’s too small and, well, it just doesn’t fit my lifestyle any more. I mean, I need something more sporty. Something that shouts ‘look at me!’ I know it’s only a few years old, and almost paid for, but I just have to have something better! You know how that is!” Sure do; but aren’t your wants and needs a bit misplaced? Consider this…

“The storm ruined both of our vehicles,” the man said sadly. “Totally ruined. The wind blew a tree down on my wife’s car, and the water came up and flooded out my truck. Both were paid off, and both of us need vehicles. Insurance will give us money for both cars, but it’s not going to be enough to replace both of them, not without monthly payments. We just can’t afford that right now. And with all the ruined cars here right now, it’s going to take weeks or even months to find something we can afford. I really don’t know what we’re going to do.”

“I really don’t like this job. I’m not appreciated. It’s not fun, and I don’t like the people I work with. The pay is ok, but I really deserve more. It’s just not what I want to do. I should just quit and look for something else.”

Well, it could be worse. You could be in this person’s situation. “I had a good job. It wasn’t the greatest job in the world but it paid the bills and even gave me a little extra to put away for emergencies. Well now that emergency is here. The business is closed because of the hurricane, and I have no idea if they’ll be able to reopen anytime soon, or even at all. I have no idea what we’re going to do… We have to have an income to survive”

“This house is just not what we want any more. The neighborhood isn’t fun like it used to be. The carpet’s old and needs cleaning. And the house needs painting, too, and that’s a hassle. We need something with more prestige, in a nicer part of town. I wonder if we could get a new mortgage?! And sell this old place? I’m really tired of it.” Really? At least you have a home that’s intact. Paint and carpet are no big deals, you know. That’s easy.

Put yourself in these families’ place. Their homes are heavily damaged, some to the point of being condemned. One mobile home park was totally destroyed. Many families will be returning from evacuation to find nothing left; nothing salvageable. Yes, they have insurance, but think of what they’ve lost and what it will take to rebuild. The months of living in shelters or with others until they can either rebuild or hopefully find something else to buy or rent. No furnishings, not even beds and sheets and towels. No dishes or cookware. Starting totally over with only the few clothes they have left.

How would you or I handle it?

Like millions of other people, we watched the storms as they lashed out in Texas and Florida, pummeling everything in their paths. We prayed and hoped for the best; we worried about friends and relatives in the storms’ path. We were amazed at the strength and severity Mother Nature was unleashing. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing.

And we were thankful it wasn’t us. Am I right?

As I’m writing this there are some 8.2 MILLION homes without electricity. It will be days, perhaps weeks, even months in some cases, before power is restored. No refrigeration, no heat or air conditioning. No way to hear news broadcasts except with battery powered radios and televisions, if they have them. No way to charge cell phones or laptop computers. No internet.

No way to get gas from pumps that are powered by electricity, that is, if your can is still drivable. No way to purchase anything if there are even stores open unless you have cash because debit and credit cards won’t work without electricity.

No way to make ice, or keep food cold.

No fresh water. No way to bathe or flush toilets.

Need I go on?

We complain daily about our lives, just like the examples above. Sometimes we have fairly good reasons, but most of the times our complaints are minuscule in comparison to what I’ve described. I still remember the three days we spent without power or running water after Isabel hit us over ten years ago. And that was mild. But we complained. A lot.

Thinking back, we had no reason to complain compared to this.

If you weren’t affected by these storms you have so very much to be thankful for. Unfortunately we usually fail to fully appreciate what we have until we lose it; we take our blessings for granted. We don’t know the value of what we have until we don’t have it any more.

Count your blessings today. And be thankful.

 

Please note: If you wish to help out with hurricane relief there are a number of agencies and websites where you can donate. Check on your favorite search engine to find the one that’s right for you.

Do You Remember?

Like you, I remember it well. Being at work for just a half hour or so when one of my co-workers said, “Did you hear what just happened?!!” Going into the kitchen area for my morning coffee I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A plane flying into a building in New York City? How in the world….

Then the announcer talked about it possibly being deliberate. How?

Then another co-worker came in, and in quiet disgust said the words I still remember….”Bin-Laden.” Little did we know how right he was at the time.

Our daughter was in school; we didn’t know what was going to happen next, and if we needed to go get her, or what. After all, living in a military area such as Hampton Roads with the world’s largest naval base, if it were an attack, would we be next?

I called a friend whose daughter was in the same class as ours. She was still active duty Navy but had that day off for some reason. She didn’t know what had happened until I called her, and told her to turn on her television.

That’s how I heard about the second plane, as she watched in horror as it happened. “I have to call the base!” she said. “I’ll have to go in. The kids? What about our kids?” Because they attended a private school at the time which had many military families enrolled, that school, like most of the others in our area, was most likely being dismissed early as a precaution.

She agreed to pick up our children and take them to our house, with overnight bags just in case. Since the girls were old enough to be by themselves as well as take care of our daughter’s friend’s younger brother, I didn’t have to rush home, as much as I wanted to.

By that time rumors and stories were flying around the office. Some true, some not. But at the time we had no idea. A plane hitting buildings in Washington. One crashing in Pennsylvania. Planes being shot down? Los Angeles under siege? Trains being derailed?

Fortunately most of those stories were just that…stories and rumors. Because the truth was bad enough.

Not much work was done that morning, and most of us had left the office by noon. Like many others, I spent the afternoon numbly watching the horrific events in New York, as people tried to find friends and loved ones. I watched people running up and down streets in fear, and watched over and over as the brave first responders tried desperately to save lives, and in many circumstances losing their own in the attempt.

I still remember sitting there with our 12 year old daughter, her best friend and her younger brother, trying to explain that we’d be ok; no one was coming here to attack us (or so I hoped), and trying to reassure my friend’s children that their parents, both who were active duty military at the time, wouldn’t be in danger.

None of us knew that day what the future held. We were stunned, shocked, scared, and angry. We held our loved ones a little closer that night, especially as we listened to the stories of those who’d lost their friends and loved ones so tragically, recount their last conversations with them, last emails, last cell phone messages….so many who knew they weren’t going to make it, and had to to say goodbye…

It was a horrific, awful, and totally unexpected day. We were all in shock and disbelief. Our country had been brutally attacked. For no reason except that others hated what we stood for. They hated our freedom, our lifestyle.

I cannot imagine hating someone or some group of people so very much that someone else would be willing to kill themselves so they could kill the others they hated. The entire idea is incomprehensible to me.

The images that we saw that day will forever be etched into our minds. We just cannot forget them. Nor should we.

One thing did come out of all of the misery and heartache. We were, at least for awhile, a nation united. United in our grief and our disbelief. United in our desire to help those who were suffering so badly. United in our desire to see those responsible brought to justice.

Today, on this 16th anniversary of the day that changed our nation, we remember those whose lives were lost, simply because they were in buildings or on airplanes that were targeted for destruction by people who hated us. They had no idea who any of these people were, men, women, and children, and most likely they did not care that they, too, had families and friends who loved them; that they had no say in the decisions that were made by others to end all of their lives, just to prove their point.

We remember the first responders who risked their own lives to save others, many of whom died in the process.

We remember the survivors of the buildings that were hit, and wonder to this day how they feel on each anniversary of this tragedy.

We remember the spouses, friends, and children of those who were lost. Especially the children who were deprived of the opportunity to grow up with both parents in their lives. Many of whom are most likely married by now with children of their own, children who were deprived of grandparents who never had an opportunity to know them.

Today let us remember not only what happened, how it made us feel, and what it put our nation through, but remember the people who were personally affected by this tragedy. The people who lost those dear to them, in a senseless act of terror. Whose lives can never be replaced. They sacrificed all, most without volunteering to put their lives at risk for their country. They were people just like you and me, who left home for a normal day at work, with plans for that night, the weekend. They had birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate. Weddings and graduations to attend.

None of that was to happen. Their plans were changed by others.

Today, let’s remember everyone affected by this tragedy. Let’s not let these lost lives be lost in vain.

May God bless their memories, their families, and may God bless our United States of America.

Try to Imagine…

For just a few seconds. Try to put yourself in their places.

Try to imagine what they’re feeling.

Put yourself in their shoes.

In half an hour you’re going to be on the road. You’re going to be driving north. To where, you really don’t know. You don’t know where you’ll find a place to stay. Or when. Or how long. If you’ll be able to find gas for your car when you run out. Where you’ll find food. Or when your cash supply will run out.

You have no idea what your future holds. Whether you’ll have a job to return to. Whether your children will have a school to go back to. Or worse, if you’ll have anything left of your home to go back to.

You walk through each room, taking pictures, and wanting to take certain precious souvenirs and mementos with you, but there’s not enough room. All you can take is a few clothes, your medications, supplies for your kids and your pets, your Bible, and if you’re lucky, your laptop computer with hopefully all of your important information stored on it.

You pick up framed photos of long deceased family members and feel like you’re leaving them behind to fend for themselves. You pick up other photos and remember other happy times, weddings, birthday parties, and Christmas mornings lived and enjoyed in that house.

Will there ever be those opportunities again?

Will your neighbors and friends be back? Will you? Will there be anything to return to? So many unknowns. And it doesn’t make it easier knowing you’re not the only one in this predicament.

Your future is totally uncertain. But your main focus right now is protecting your life and the lives of your family.

So you go, locking the doors behind you, saying goodbye to the home which has been your shelter and your safe haven for so long. The tears well up and overflow as all of you drive away to what you hope will be safety.

But there are so many others out there in the path of this storm that are in more desperate circumstances than you are, some with no real choices, and some who decided to stay out of a sense of obligation to others.

The elderly couple whose family begged them to leave but they had nowhere and no way to go. He’s wheelchair bound and on oxygen, and both are insulin dependent. They’re praying the shelter they found will be safe and that they’ll have enough medication to last thru the storm, as well as refrigeration to keep it usable. And there are many, many more elderly families in this situation.

The hundreds or perhaps thousands of dialysis patients whose very lives depend on this life saving procedure several times a week. They cannot safely evacuate either, unless there is a dialysis center nearby with generators to run the equipment; and transportation to get there and back. And what if the dialysis center near them loses power or is destroyed?

The hundreds of pregnant moms-to-be who are ready to give birth at any time who have no idea what they’ll do or where they’ll go. Where will they be when labor starts? And who will help them? Some are bedridden from complications and/or who will require a C-section for a safe delivery. They’re terrified, and wonder if they and their new baby will make it through the storm.

The special needs parents whose children require feeding tubes, breathing equipment and/or other life sustaining equipment. Where can they go? And would they have the emergency equipment that’s needed?

There are the young military families stationed in various bases throughout the state. Many cannot leave because their country needs them there to help the storm victims. Some of the families were sent out, but many remain behind, scared of what is going to happen next.

There are the first responders who, out of a sense of duty to their jobs and the ones they’ve sworn to protect, chose to stay while sending their loved ones away. They wonder if they’ll make it through, and if they’ll be able to keep up with enormous workload they know will be ahead of them.

There are the medical personnel who volunteered to stay when their hospitals and clinic and treatment centers decided to remain open to help the desperately ill and injured. A wrong decision, you say? Would you think that if you were still there and needed such medical attention?

There are so many more examples, stories, scenarios. I cannot begin to imagine. We have friends and acquaintances there as well, in many different areas of the state. Some have evacuated, some were not able to for various reasons. And yes, we worry about all of them.

I’ve heard some people saying how this is like such and such disaster movie they saw, and how miraculously everything was ok at the end. They somehow think this is the same thing. Really?

This isn’t a movie. This is real life. There are no retakes, no scripts to follow. No hero coming in at the last minute and miraculously sending the storm away. These are people like you and me, not actors getting paid to look scared or injured. Not studio sets and computer graphics to mimic a catastrophic storm. Real lives will be lost, and real families torn apart. Real homes and businesses will be destroyed.

Yes, you can say, “I’d do this” or “I’d do that” or “I’m not scared of the storm” or even, “I’m going to just have a hurricane party and watch it from my balcony!” Right.

Try actually being there. In the midst of it all. Your ideas may change. Suddenly the statues you’re so offended by have very little significance to you any more. Names of buildings and schools aren’t really that important any more. The people whose lifestyles you condemn and want nothing to do with may be the people who help save your life.

Try to imagine, just for a few minutes today, as you go about your normal day, how these people are feeling. Over 19 million people are under hurricane warnings as I write this. Hundreds of thousands have and still are evacuating with similar thoughts such as I wrote in the beginning of this piece.

If you are one of them, my heart and prayers go out to you because I cannot do anything else. Like many others who are watching this unfold, there’s a heart wrenching feeling of helplessness that is indescribable. Yes, we are relieved it’s not us.

But what if it were? That possibility is always there. And it frightens me.

Please, to all of you affected. Be safe. You hopefully have your loved ones with you, and together you can survive this. Yes, it will most likely be a devastating return, but at least you will be alive to try and rebuild.

May God bless and protect all of you over these next few days and weeks, and yes, months.