Survivor's Remorse with Hurricane Harvey
We returned home after 4 days of mandatory evacuation. Our house didn't flood, but over 100,000 homes in our area were affected. I felt guilty that I got to sleep in my own bed that night. But no one really wants to hear about my survivor's remorse.
I know I need to stop the guilt stuff, but I got in the habit a year ago with my cancer. I felt guilty accepting help when others needed it more. I felt guilty last spring when I gathered at a celebration for Cancer Survivors Day. I dealt with such a minor battle compared to many.
I didn't really earn a cancer or hurricane survivor badge. But the initial fear that came with both announcements, was similar. Maybe I earned a badge for that. Mostly, I'm grateful that my cancer was treatable and thankful that water didn't reach the house.
Feeling guilty is a waste of time. So on Saturday, I headed to Sugar Land's baseball stadium to donate blood. I heard the hospitals were running low.
I was turned away because I wasn't 3 years cancer free. I no longer felt guilty. I felt mad. Mad to be in that stupid cancer club with rules that make me feel like my blood is flawed. Mad that I couldn't join the club of Givers that was lined up.
Relaxing When Others Aren't
I started feeling guilty before we even knew our house was going to be safe. We were invited to evacuate to a safe home just miles from ours.
The sun came out by the second day and I was able to run... which helped with stress. The dry paths were lovely in the morning, but I could hardly enjoy, when I felt I should be helping others. Everything looked oddly normal, until I approached the closed grocery stores and restaurants. The sounds of rescue helicopters reminded me that all was not well.
How to Help?
The day we got home, I began fretting over how to help. I saw images on TV of boat rescues and flooded homes with neighbors pitching in. I wanted to jump in and be a part of the help. But how? I'm the person who doesn't do groups. This is when it pays to be a part of an organization that pulls together and helps others. So much for my independence.
I wasted lots of time on the internet and phone, trying to find areas of need that were reachable. Don learned that a friend in the flooded and neglected town of Wharton, was preparing a BBQ for over 400. We drove out and delivered some goods, but there was little else for us to do. The small group seemed to have everything under control. I was in awe, watching how smoothly they prepared for the crowds, around pots of beans and rice and the giant grill. This was a hardworking group, used to pulling together and helping one another. Cooking a pot of beans to feed 300 was no big deal. I took it in and vowed I would learn from what I saw.
Shelters and Centers
I felt disappointed the next day, that they didn't need my help when I showed up at an evacuation shelter in Richmond. I drove to a church shelter, but it had already closed. I don't know why it took me so long to realize I just needed to get back to being with the people in the centers, where I already volunteer. I had gone in circles for days, before returning to my senior groups and the kids at the Women's shelter. Everyone had been affected by the hurricane whether they had dealt with floods or not.
Helping Each Other
It was a joy to hug some of my sweet seniors and hear their stories. We had all been worried about each other when the center was closed for 10 days. We shared and then we forgot about Harvey and distracted ourselves with fun. I left realizing they had helped me as much as I'd helped them.
Kids and More Seniors
My Alzheimer's group delighted me with their ability to live in the moment. No one was talking about hurricanes! Then I moved on, to the Women's Shelter where the moms were the happiest to see me. After almost 2 weeks of school closings, there was a fair amount of tension in the air. After games and songs, puppets and outside play I left the kids worn out... but not as worn out as me.
So, in the future I'll try to remind myself to keep this guilt thing from getting in the way. Sometimes my urge to race out there and do something "big" distracts me from caring about the people who are right near me.
Cancer to Covid
I started this complaining list/blog, in May 2016. I posted 200 gripes about my breast cancer and then I was done.
On March 17, 2020, I started venting all over again, when another disease (starting with a C) interfered with my life. Only this time, it was affecting more than me.
Coronavirus and Cancer! Both are evil, but neither can totally get me down... if I vent! I hope with Covid, I run out of complaints before 200!