My wife’s sister’s name is Sandra … or Sandy. She lives in Baton Rouge and suffered some damage from Hurricane Katrina a few years back. The night before Sandy hit, my wife called her sister and jokingly asked her to spare us. “I’ll do my best,” Sandy responded with a smile in her voice. Boy did she come through as we were lucky. Ridiculously lucky. Despite living in Douglaston, Queens at the actual cross street of the end of the possible evacuation area, we never lost power. Never lost TV. Never lost Internet. My wife, Elaine, and I watched the destruction on the news as our near 8-month-old Sienna went about her day completely oblivious.
On the Wednesday night after the storm, our friends Rachel and Eric called from Jersey City and asked if they could crash with us over the weekend since they had lost power. Jersey City had severe flooding, and the temperature was supposed to dip into the 30s that weekend. We told them they were nuts .. .to get their butts into a car and get here NOW and although it took them hours to do so, they did just that, arriving close to midnight. We fashioned Sienna’s bedroom with an air mattress for our friends, and our daughter, Sienna slept in a co-sleeper with us in our bedroom. Our apartment was becoming a haven for people and we were so happy that it was. It was our way to give back as a thank you for us being so lucky.
During the week that our displaced Jersey City-ites stayed with us, I discovered that the reason we didn’t lose TV/Internet was because I’d switched from Time-Warner to Fios just a few weeks prior; everyone in the building who had Time-Warner lost all of their services. Lucky again! Not only were Rachel and Eric able to work from home in our place, we had the luxury of doing whatever we wanted. I’d been trying to get my friends into “Breaking Bad” for the longest time and so we watched it in between the hurricane news. They’re now addicts – pun most definitely intended.
But most important, Storm Sandy made us feel like a real extended family. Sienna was in no way needing attention as my parents and friends showered her with it. And my wife was in heaven because she got so much extra time with her daughter. Me? I was just happy to give back in any way I could because I knew just how fortunate we were. Helping out my parents and our friends made me feel terrific and reminded me about how special it is to have such special people in my life. And our daughter Sienna? Year’s from now we’ll be able to tell her how during a time of darkness and devastation, her Aunt Sandy promised to spare us and not only did, but allowed us to use that good fortune to pay it forward to our family and friends.