Greg answered the pounding on our door in the middle of the night wearing only his boxers. This struck me as a little unusual, since, unlike his wife, Greg is a paragon of modesty. Greg is, after all, the man who refused to pee on his four-year-old daughter when she was stung by a jellyfish because, “Dropping my pants in front of a small child, whipping out my penis, and then urinating on her is worse than the pain of a jellyfish sting.” Me: “IF YOU LOVED HER YOU WOULD PEE ON HER, GREG.” But no; no, he didn’t love her that much, and now we know.
So you see why I was so surprised Greg leaped out of bed in only his boy panties to answer the door of our hotel room in Central Florida in the middle of Hurricane Matthew last night while we were under government curfew, told to keep doors, windows and curtains covered. I mean, if his daughter’s cries of pain weren’t enough to push this man to immodesty, I failed to see how some strange woman pounding on the door merited a special show and tell with the boxers.
It turns out the pounding wasn’t anyone at the door, though. I figured that out after I realized Greg was sound asleep next to me and I’d been asleep for a while, too. The pounding was a branch on the window or wind in the gutters, and I’d dreamed the whole thing, which of course didn’t keep me from telling Greg in the morning how sad it is that he’ll welcome strange women in his undies on a dark and stormy night but not share his urine with his suffering child. This isn’t the first time Greg has had to pay for his actions in my dreams, but that’s OK because actions matter, Greg, and it’s important to learn that.
In other news, Greg rolls his eyes a lot, and we can pray him.
We didn’t really expect to be in Florida for Hurricane Matthew, yet here we are. We’d planned this trip for months and months for our youngest two boys with their cousin who’s also nine, and when the storm warnings came before we left Oregon we assumed the storm would veer away. Statistically, we’d be correct, we reasoned. Decades of history told us that was the most likely scenario. We didn’t want to be alarmists and cancel everything. In retrospect, we might have used the “better safe than sorry” method of decision making, but, as my dad says, he raised adventurers not geniuses.
“It’s an adventure!” we told ourselves, and took off for the south.
By the time we reached Houston, projections had the storm landing in Florida a Category 4 and the news reported grocery store shelves were empty of water already. My friend Mindy hightailed it to the grocery store but was only able to grab 1 gallon of water for 8 of us, so I used our 20 minute layover to buy 18 bottles of water and shove them in my carry-on. I am the DAUGHTER OF A MARINE, and I went to Girl Scout meetings for, like, 4 months when I was 10, so I know how to be prepared. My bag was heavy, but WATER, right?
We landed safely in Orlando, and the airport closed 20 hours later.
We headed to the Magic Kingdom by day and then to our hotel for the night where we filled the bathtubs, closed our curtains, made hot food and saved the canned goods in case the electricity went out, charged our phones, and tried to sneak news reports where our 9 year olds wouldn’t see them and become alarmed. And then we went to bed, serenaded all night long with pounding, howling rain and wind and the occasional car alarm as harmony.
In the end, it was a nonevent for Orlando.
Nothing more than very blustery weather.
No power outages or broken windows or people injured reported to date.
Which is, of course, not at all how it is for other counties or other countries.
The property damage toll is already high further east on the Florida coast which makes me feel helpless and sad.
But it’s the death toll and the beginning of another major humanitarian crisis in Haiti that utterly breaks my heart. Especially since we know the U.S. news will shift its focus inward now and our Haitian neighbors will be left to largely fend for themselves without the infrastructure and emergency services we can count on here in the U.S.
News cycles drive donations, and the news cycle for Haiti is nearly over. It’s a secondary crisis that adds to the first.
It’s only been 6 years since the earthquake that devastated Haiti, and the rebuilding was far from complete. Now its people face food insecurity from ruined crops, homelessness, and are at risk of serious diseases like cholera and more. All this to face after mamas just like me tucked their babies into bed one night in the middle of a storm, but, not like me at all, had to witness their children’s fear and feel their own as their roofs blew off and rivers of muddy water ran through their streets and their homes.
Tonight, I’m sitting on the porch in my hotel, listening to gusts of wind and whipping palm fronds and bursts of rain, and I’m glad for our comfort and safety and destroyed that every mama can’t sit here with me, warm and dry and assured her children are well.
Please consider joining me in making a small donation to help our Haitian momrades. Or a large donation… I won’t stop you. My money is going to Medical Teams International. I will stake whatever reputation I have on the quality of MTI’s humanitarian response team. I’m the former executive assistant to the current CEO of MTI as well as the last two CEOs; I can tell you these people know what they’re doing and the rock the heck out of it. Love made flesh. Not only have I personally witnessed the highest level of decision making, fiscal responsibility, and deep and abiding care for those MTI is privileged to serve, MTI also carries the highest ratings available from charity watchdog organizations.
Sending love and waving in the dark to all the momrades and dad-rades and people made out of human who have triumphs and tragedies,
P.S. I generally like Disney vacations because I can eat whatever I want (read: every fried thing) and not gain weight because of all the walking. I’m not convinced, however, that I’m going to have the same results after sitting in a hotel room eating caramel corn, BBQ potato chips and Chef Boyardee raviolis for 36 hours straight. Turns out, I do not make the very best hurricane choices. :/ Live and learn.