I don't write about myself much...

And this post isn't all that different.  Because what I went through,  many others suffered through as well.  Many other have fought disaster before me, and many more will do so after.

This August 24th is the 25th Anniversary of Hurricane Andrew.  A quarter of a century, ancient history to many.  But for those like myself, who had front row seats in South Florida, the days between then and now sometimes feel very few.  

My husband and I had just bought our new home a few months before, as first-time homebuyers.  We had barely made a handful of mortgage payments and were still getting accustomed to the idea of being a homeowner when suddenly, there wasn't much of a home left anymore!  You see, our home was mere blocks from the point where the storm came ashore.  

In our post traumatic state, our community was vocal, scared, and taking up the news hours.  Around the country people watched our plight as we picked through the refuse left of our lives.  We eclipsed the survivors of Hurricane Irene and all those before us, just as the survivors of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Charlie eclipsed us later.

One thing every survivor can attest to is, that when the roof is (finally!) fixed, life doesn't return to normal.

This post isn't just about natural disasters, it's about disaster in general.  

It's about the fact that no one is immune from the occasional Tsunami LIfe Wave that comes along and rips you off your comfortable shore when you least suspect it.   It's about the churning events that grasps you, rolls you down under the dark over and over again, before finally tossing you out.  

And there, on a slightly unfamiliar shore, you find yourself gasping for breath and wondering 'What in the H#LL just happened to my life!'

After every crisis comes a point where the sirens quiet.  Where the actions of people in uniforms stop.   As the excitement wears off, the spectators begin to wander away, things are returning to normal for them.  They get to go about their life, thankful they aren't you. 

And you slowly begin to realize that it will be a long time before there is any normal again for you.  You have no idea when or even if there will ever be a day when you can say you have 'recovered'.  And that is the moment when you realize, you are a Survivor.  Or a victim.   The choice is yours. 

You do have a choice.  And it's important to remember that there is a choice.  Sometimes the choices are not necessarily ones you would have chosen.  Not ones you wanted, but unlike a victim, when you choose to be a survivor, you have a choice.  Surviving doesn't mean undamaged.  Surviving doesn't look perfect, in fact it's messy most of the time.   But there is also beauty.    For us, the greatest beauty was the stars every night.  It's hard to come the sort of darkness we had night after night before the electric crews worked their magic.  The night sky and the zillion stars we will never again see with our naked eye were there for us then, reminding us...

Even the Smallest flame shines light onto the inky darkness.  

So here's the thought I would share, as one survivor to another, even if you feel small, you can still be a flame of HOPE in the dark for others and for yourself.   

And if you need help, I can help you fan that flame.