I have been squinting into the television screen for several days now. The same familiar faces of those on the street keep being played over and over again. I'm beginning to feel as though I know them. The young woman with her lethargic baby in her hands... the other woman desperately shouting "Old people are dying! Those in wheelchairs are dying!...." The man holding up his three-week-old baby shouting, "How's he gonna survive without food and water?!"
These images being played over and over again... I can barely watch anymore, yet do not want to distance myself from it either. It is devastating. It brings me to tears over and over again.
And I worry. All that standing water, the sewage, the decaying bodies, dehydration ... will there be long term kidney damage from all this? Obviously the emotional pain is just horrific.
Two nights ago, after staring at the putrid condition at the Superdome and into the hopeless faces at the Convention Center, I walked into the local Red Cross to become a volunteer. I attended a near four-hour class that would normally take a couple of weeks to complete.
I desperately wanted to help. To go out there in the midst of devastation and help in whatever capacity I could.
Last night I received a late phone call asking me to report to the Red Cross this morning at 11 to immediately receive my tetanus and diptheria vaccine and hepatitis B vaccine. I would also get my assignment of what airport I am to fly into. I could be leaving in one to four days and the minimum stay has lengthened from nine days to several weeks. We were warned we might be sleeping outside and be subjected to extremely uncomfortable situations.
While laying in bed last night I took an honest look into my own gut to find my inner strengths and limitations.
Our ability to handle life's difficulties is shaped by our very own unique life experiences. The amount of weight you bear on your shoulders is perhaps different than the weight I bare on my shoulders. Our personal triumphs and traumas we experience in our lives determine whatever that weight is we can safely bare.
Being aware of the responsibilities and commitments I've made at home and measuring how much weight I can put into my own heart and shoulders right now, I decided it would be best for me not to go on assignment. I certainly appreciate my caring friends and family who have called or written and helped me in my decison making.
I will help in other ways I can.
My heart and prayers go out to all of the people who have lost their homes, their families and their friends in this painful place of tragedy and devastation.