I’ve heard that saying since my kids were babies. It’s meant to help young frazzled parents when they’re tired. It’s sort of a “you’re gonna miss this” phrase with a chin up, slow punch to the shoulder for the sake of camaraderie just letting you know that everything’s gonna be swell. I’m living in what looks like a war zone landscaped with post-Covid crosses in everyone’s front yard with the saying, “All Is Well” painted across them, and I ain’t feeling s’well.

It’s hard to complain around here because we’re all going through something similar and the aftershock from Hurricanes Laura and Delta are pervasive. It’s hard to go about our “normal” lives like they were a couple of months ago, if you can even say that in a post Covid-19 world. We’ve just added to our corona gear, and I’m wearing a fanny pack to hold it all in for convenience sake. So is the story of my life now.

Every morning I get up. My feet meet the pavement of my bedroom floor and head to the restroom. There’s now a doggie door there covered by a trash bag where the walls were cut out after the first storm when water seeped into them. Letting the dogs out is no longer a quick throw open the door because my fence is gone so we leash up. I’m past the point of caring whether or not the neighbors see me in my nightgown. We’re like family now anyway wading through the muck together and steering clear of the fence line where I’ve heard one neighbor found some rattlers so my nerves are rattled now, too. I’ve gotten efficient so rather than head straight into the house, we stop at the garage to pick up the breakfast and eye drops for the dog who’s allergies got stirred up in the storm. The temporary fridge is in the garage now because the nice fridge and first major appliance that I ever bought myself is still sitting at the street with its third layer of duct tape just waiting to be picked up after 7+weeks. I prayed and wished for Hurricane Delta to TAKE THAT FRIDGE in her rising waters downstream but she didn’t. I waited on word from neighbors who stayed for the second storm because they were too tired and weary to head out again. Someone else across town posted their fun video of one rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river and through the neighborhood while this town took a beating.

Our big wheels keep on turnin, proud Marys keep on burnin so we leave early every morning for two reasons. It takes time now to wipe off the windows enough to see since we can no longer park in the garage, and you just never know what section of the grid will be out so that you have to sit and wait in long lines without traffic lights at intersections. Only the fortunate ones are heading to school and work again 7 months from the first closures back in March. My teenager has started football, it’s the Deep South after all, and I’m rebuilding a couple of businesses simultaneously with my house and life with little or no staff. There’s still no school, and I don’t have coworkers.

It’s like that movie Friday, and I ain’t got two things that match. There’s peanut butter but no jelly, ham no burger, and computer with no internet. Dayyyum! There’s no trying to find a matching pair at lunch either because the city is SWOLLEN. Roofers, linemen, and workers of all kinds are here setting up shop and doing what they do. If you thought chicken lines were long when the restaurants closed, then you haven’t seen anything. We block traffic for pizza. The businesses able to work outside the box will be the ones to survive. I’m still trying to sell lipstick to people wearing masks and covered in dirt so I’ll support a business taking orders for food at the road or writing orders onto bags and filling them like Chick Fil a did after Laura. You got two choices there: chicken sandwich with pickles or chicken sandwich without pickles. That crew kept the line wrapped around the building and when you got your order in the hot hot sun, you were just so grateful that you thanked them profusely and drove off. I still carry a pang of guilt because I drove off too quickly and didn’t realize that I’d accidentally been blessed with eleven chicken sandwiches without pickles. They were sent by God so who am I to complain or even drive them back in an effort to return them in this post Covid world.

I pondered the other evening live on Facebook about how in the world I was supposed to live and work and rebuild all at the same time and do it by myself because I left work at 5:00 only to pull into a beehive of a grocery store as they were shooing everyone out. We’re still not at full capacity so while the needs are great, the resources are limited. You take what you get and you don’t pitch a fit. Except I pitched a fit and finally pulled into the gas station lured by a poster board that said HOT FOOD and did the grocery shopping for me & the teen while he stared with empty saucer-like eyes. I gave up! The battle wasn’t in me to fight traffic again so we ate salads from a gas station, and I reminded him of how much worse others had it. It’ll be my version of walking to school ten miles in the snow.

He’s just starting high school and I choke up sometimes now talking about him. When I said the days are long but the years are short, I hit that lesson hard by having moved my oldest 10 hours away while evacuated for the first storm. The past four years with her blew by and spun me around like only cat 4 (maybe a 5) could do, because when I landed she was gone. I’ll remember the lesson with the tedious tasks now like just getting through the day. There’s no escaping the piles and piles and piles of debris on every corner. Every day I head into work to a job that morphs farther and farther away from the initial job description. We pick up and we clean and we pick up and we clean and we pick ourselves up along the way. No one here is immune and some have lost so much more than others though everyone has lost something. We’re all in different stages of grief and my heart goes out to so many friends whose losses make mine seem trivial. I try to remember something my daughter said long before the lessons of the storms; your broken arm can still hurt even if someone else is in a body cast.