Sometimes things happen faster than I can even take the time to stop and really think about what is happening. And for now that's probably a good thing. When I pulled out of my driveway for the last time as the resident of my house in Mississippi, I felt just a flutter of emotional reflux. It caused a burning lump in my throat that threatened to rise up and turn into a wail and a flood of tears. Fortunately for my eyes and the ears of my neighbors (former neighbors), I was able to put a clamp on that in a quick hurry.
As we drove away from our neighborhood, I thought about the young newlywed I was when I moved to Mississippi for the third time almost four years ago. I was filled with dreams and fantasies of the life that lay ahead. Anything was possible. We would buy a fixer-upper cottage and I would walk from the beach to rinse the salt off of my skin in our outdoor shower.
And then my Grandfather got a sore throat, and we all prayed it was only a cold, but it was cancer, and it was aggressive. In July my Grandmother decided to take her life into her own hands and with those hands she put a month's worth of medication into her body. A body that was in constant pain for so many years.
And then August came and with it came the hurricane that would serve as the final blow in the complete destruction of the girl who came to Mississippi. In the losing of everything I owned and of so many people I loved, I found myself. With each heartbreak, each set back, I grew stronger and more sure of who I was and who I wanted to become.
As we filled our moving truck to overflowing and wondered where we would fit what remained of our possessions, I remembered moving into the house in Diamondhead with nothing more than a pair of camping chairs and an air mattress and a grin from ear to ear, because this was our house, our own small piece of Earth. That was almost three years ago. We had lost everything, but we had each other. And not long after that we also had a baby. In that time we lost Jeremy's Grandfather, and only a few months after that his brother was killed in a car wreck.
Each time you think nothing could ever hurt so much again, and each time your soul gets a fresh scar. The scars can only fade with time, but they will never stop hurting. Sometimes we run our mind over them and remember with sweet fondness the beauty and the pain of each moment we had with those whom we loved and will never again see on this Earth. And we remember the life we had begun to build that was so abruptly taken from us by the sea and lay in ruin beneath a 60 foot pile of rubble that contained the broken fragments of the lives of so many others.
It is a pain that was only made bearable by the people that became my dear friends and taught me what it is to survive. But not only to survive; to survive with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. Just like the flowers that grow in the red dirt of the south, these women are tough and beautiful, and I love them.
When I drove into Mississippi some years ago I was a girl; fickle and fragile, and with more shoes than were good for me. As I left it yesterday; I left a woman, and a mother, with a reserve of strength that can withstand whatever comes my way and a smile still on my lips.