In the mist of the chaos following Hurricane Sandy, I found myself without power, without gas and without heat- waiting for the magical moment when the comforts of my modern life would be bestowed back to me. Despite the inconvenience and my huddling underneath layers of blankets to shield myself from the blistering cold, I had a warm heart. Why? Because I have seen first-hand the true nature of the people I call my neighbors, my friends, my fellow New Yorkers and those in other states and countries miles away. I have seen how communities have rallied around those in need. In the mist of tremendous loss, I have seen compassion in their eyes and the willingness to do whatever they can to help those who are facing the devastating reality of having lost everything-their home-or worse yet a loved one. They speak with action, not words. In fact, the silence speaks more than a book ever could. They collect clothes, canned foods, bottled water. They raise money and give out hot coffee to strangers waiting on gas lines that snake around for blocks. They open up their homes and share their beds and electrical outlets. They do this with an open heart. Such displays of kindness have only confirmed what I’ve known all along-that despite the tough exterior of New Yorkers, there lies a sense of compassion I’ve seen once before-during those dark days after September 11, 2001. It is this sense of community, the ‘one for all’ mentality , an indication that no matter what gets thrown our way, we will get through this together. The grief I saw then is the same I see now. It is heartbreaking. There is not a day that has gone by this week when I have not cried over stories of houses destroyed, lives uprooted, and childhood memories erased. But yet what I see all around me gives me hope. Hope that we can survive. What has happened is unbelievably sad. Our patience has been put to the test. We are tired, cold and wish life would go back to normal. For many that will take days, weeks, even months or years. But what I’ve learned is that we will overcome and we will rebuild. In my heart, I know this to be true, as I know that the sun will come up tomorrow. It is not a wish, it is a certainty. We are New Yorkers-we are made to last.
For those who have lost so much, my heart and prayers go out to you. I know I speak about New Yorkers in this blog but many from New Jersey have also lost so much and my thoughts are with them as well.
A grateful thanks to all of you who have provided assistance to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. I am humbled by so many acts of kindness from people around the country and the world.
If you wish to help, please consider making a donation to the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org/Hurricane_Aid or the Salvation Army at www.salvationarmyusa.org/.