Gone but Not Forgotten—by Jamie Levine
While the news coverage has dwindled, and normalcy has returned to many peoples’ lives, the effects of Hurricane Sandy will linger for a long time—especially for those whose houses were destroyed by the devastating storm. In my home, we only suffered from bouts of frustration and a bit of physical discomfort when we were deprived of light, heat, and hot water for over a week; however, even though our power has been restored, some of the difficulties we experienced have not been forgotten by my daughter.
Before the hurricane, my daughter never gave a second thought to the convenience of hopping into our car and driving wherever we needed to go. But now, every time Jayda buckles herself into her booster seat, she asks me with a bit of concern in her voice, “Mommy, do we have enough gas?” When I assure her that we do, she reminds me that it’s an odd day (athough she’s not always correct) and that “maybe we should go get some gas since it’s our turn.” She knows how important it is to follow the even-odd gas rule, and it’s become the “new normal” for her. Similarly, whenever we drive past a long line of cars (even if the cars are simply waiting for a red light to turn green), Jayda asks unhappily, “Is that a gas line?” She’s always relieved when I answer, “no.” Fortunately, my child was shielded from most of the hardships others experienced as a result of the storm: I made sure Jayda was always kept warm, clean, and well-fed, and even made an effort to keep her constantly entertained. However, as hard as I tried to keep my kid unaffected, she did notice a lot—and some of the difficulties people endured will stay on her mind for awhile.
A positive result of Jayda’s awareness is that she proudly donated some of her old clothes to our synagogue, and even offered to share some of her toys with children who don’t have any. She asks me daily if “there’s anyone we know who still doesn’t have power,” (we do) and reminds me that we should “try to help someone if they need a place to stay.” I don’t think my daughter “gets” the severity of some people’s problems from the storm—but that’s ok. She’s only 5-1/2 and I’d rather not scare her with the realities. But she does know that some of our friends “lost everything in their homes—even all the toys” and reacted very empathetically when I told her that news. My kid, who normally begs to go to her friends’ houses for play dates has started inviting friends to our home, when she hears that they are in the midst of repairing their bedrooms and playrooms. It’s a small gesture, but a big step for Jayda.
My heart goes out to everyone who is still suffering—and I’m so grateful that I didn’t lose anything in the storm. But I’m also thankful for the lessons my daughter is learning—and I hope she continues to remain humble and mindful of others’ hardships, while appreciating her good fortune. The other day, I insisted my daughter take her coat with her when we left the house to go to a party and she pouted and exclaimed, “But I’m never cold!” Then, she added, “except during the hurricane. But you made sure I got warm, Mommy,” and she dutifully picked up her coat and brought it along. As Jayda’s mother, it’s my job to keep her warm and safe; I’m just happy she appreciates it—and all of our blessings.