The deep thinkers, poets and philosophers contend we need to find the silver lining in all of our storms, the morals in all of our stories. That can be awfully difficult when you are mired in the middle of a grim tale.
Consider this take from Japanese writer Haruki Murakami: “And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain: When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.”
Many Pettis County residents — my family included — spent the past week emerging from the aftermath of the severe thunderstorm that drenched the area the evening of July 1. The six to eight inches of rain that hit us that night caused basements to flood, leaving belongings damaged and family treasures destroyed. Nature neither knows nor cares about sentiment.
As my family worked together in our basement to salvage what we could, discard what we must and attempt to dry out what was left, there was no sadness in my heart. To be certain, we lost items that held great meaning for us, including beautiful matted-and-framed nature photographs shot by my late mother-in-law, Pat Petersen, as well as mementos from our time living in Arizona.
But my son, Chaz, worked hour after hour without hesitation or complaint and my daughter, Hannah, kept her spirits up as she sorted through water-damaged books, shoes and other items from her room. My wife, Melany, was the real rock, sharing at every opportunity items that survived unscathed to keep a positive vibe working.
While we are still dealing with significant clean-up and restoration efforts, what was lost is literally just stuff. We and our three dogs all have our health, we still have a roof over our heads and we still have the promise that every next day holds. One of those poets, Maya Angelou, summed it up well:
“There were people who went to sleep last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. And those dead folks would give anything at all for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of plowing. So you watch yourself about complaining. What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
Reinforcing my mindset was a road trip to the Chicago area this past week. Chaz was scheduled to attend a football skills camp and we had loosely planned a vacation around the camp. The storm damage altered those plans, cutting out the additional days as Melany remained home to oversee the restoration crew’s work. Chaz and I hit the road Wednesday morning for the eight-hour drive, and as I write this he is resting after a full day of work Thursday at the camp.
The drive and father-and-son time at the camp has a value that surpasses any price tag. The trip has served as a reminder that experiences are always more valuable than tangible items. That is something that easily can be lost as you bundle and toss out pieces of your past.
A month, a year, five years from now, what I will remember from the past 10 days will not be what the storm claimed, but rather what it revealed: Family moments will always be our silver linings.
Bob Satnan is the Communications Director for the Sedalia School District 200.