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Week 9: On the Edge of Something Beautiful

October 15, 2018



      This week was crazy to say the least.  Late Monday afternoon, we received word we would be out of school Tuesday and Wednesday due to Hurricane Michael approaching. 


          The eye of the storm was headed straight for Pensacola and picking up speed along the way.  The prediction of the track was that the storm would make a sharp turn towards Panama City as it began to make landfall.  If so, this would put us on the west side (the best side) of the storm.


 I am writing this blog (post-storm), which means the hurricane trackers were correct.  If they had been a few miles off in their calculations, I would most likely not be typing this.  I would not have internet, electricity, or a classroom full of students to read my blog. I might not even have a roof over my head.  The comfort of the air conditioned house that I am sitting in to type this blog, the festive fall centerpiece that rests five inches from my laptop, and the security of normalcy are all luxuries I did not see as luxuries....until this week. The other day a friend and I were discussing how we have a survivor's guilt of sorts for the people whose homes and way of life were upended when this Category 5 storm obliterated the coast in a matter of hours.


          I suspect the fear of a hurricane is incomprehensible to people who do not live on, or near, the coast the way we do.   The beauty of our beaches can turn on us in a moment's notice.  Mother nature is cruel in this way.  It is hard to believe the warm waters we were splashing in beneath a painted, summer sunset a mere three months ago are the same waters that have come to destroy us with a blind rage in October. Some might even question why we continue live on the coast, the edge.  It's crazy when you think about it.  One fourth of the year we live under a tip-toe threat of being wiped off the map.  


       Not to be overly metaphorical here, but I don't think you have to be from the Panhandle to know what it is like to have a beautiful, picturesque life, and then in one swoop have your life turned upside down, your normalcy and way of life completely leveled.  Maybe it is the loss of a loved one, a horrific breakup, a family illness, a job loss, or a host of other unfortunate circumstances.  Being assaulted by the unexpected in such a traumatic way is damaging to say the least, but it is also a reminder that you were hurt so much because you chose to live close to the most beautiful place on earth, the edge.   


             The storm comes to each of us in different ways, and then it eventually subsides.   In its departure, there is a pervading question that lingers for each of us.  Will we rebuild or stay in the wreckage? It may not be like it was before. It may not look the same or feel the same.  We may even long for it to be the way it once was.  I don't think there's any shame or guilt in that, but if we are wise, keep our heads about us, and open our eyes, we might just see the new has come to make us stronger and better.  It has served to remind of us of the good in humanity, and the comfort that comes from being rescued.   


              Special thanks to my brother-in-law, Andrew Norton, a lineman for Gulf Power, who has worked tirelessly on the edge for ten days now helping people rebuild. 


          You may have missed your son's first home run, but please never forget that you have been a game changer for thousands of people. I am so proud of the ways you sacrifice for others.   


Living on the Edge,


Mrs. Bell




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