On the cusp of Hurricane-turned-tropical-storm Isaac’s arrival, another storm quietly brewed and my faith and resolve was once again, tested. Arriving home with my five children from a long and exhausting trip to the dentist, I skipped out of the office feeling victorious for having kept the littlest ones from decimating the place. No dirty looks this time from fellow patients. No outsiders scolding. We’re making progress, I congratulated myself on a job well-done.
It was just after 4pm and we were all hungry and cranky; the kids hadn’t been home since leaving for school at 7am that morning. Upon entering the house, our new house, the one I proudly reveled in each and every lazy summer day and starlit night with my five non-camp-going kids, I turned off the alarm and detected a strong scent of “something-isn’t-right.”
Gasoline? Diesel? Did I leave something on? What’s burning? My mind raced. Instantly, my eyes scanned the house and through the living room window, I caught a glimpse of my bedroom sliding glass door. It had been smashed to bits. Tiny shards of glass were scattered everywhere.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Someone had burglarized my new home, the one we’ve lived in for only ten short, glorious weeks, the one in which we felt so safe and protected.
Suffice it to say my heart tanked and with my children gathered close, we peered inside the ransacked bedroom. I took note that every valuable---sentimental, costly and much of it irreplaceable---was no longer part of my existence, of our family history, of our little world. In a flash, we’d been violated; our intimacy invaded, we’d been stripped of a decade of blood, sweat, and tears---of hard freaking work.
And as we sat huddled together on the front lawn of our now-imperfect-new-home and waited for the police to arrive, it dawned on me, once again, that nothing in life lasts forever. Time moves so damn quickly, moving us in and out of scenarios, of happy moments that in an instant, can collapse into our worst nightmares. I’m not being fatalistic; that’s just reality, folks. Because our wanting to hold onto things, or cling to moments, may indeed provide a temporary blanket of security, but it’s all an illusion. At any moment, it can disappear or be taken away.
Nonetheless, a week has passed since “the break-in incident,” and despite our upgraded home security system, my sadness has subsided into a combination of anger and resignation. I want to find the SOB. I want the person panicked, unable to sleep, knowing that we are hot on his trail. Not to retrieve anything; I’ve already detached, but in the name of JUSTICE. To put some closure to this ordeal.
And after a flood of tears and grieving for all we so suddenly lost, I hold tightly onto my kids and hug my husband with all my might, because dammit, this will not break me. I am naked. Exposed. Un-jeweled. There is nothing more left to me but a somewhat-weathered-still-hard-body that has birthed five children, an asymmetrical face that’s been battered by ten hours of brain surgery and three back-to-back jaw surgeries. And a larger-than-life spirit that screams out into the darkness of the night: “YOU CANNOT BREAK ME. I WILL NOT LET ANY OF THIS EXTERNAL PRESSURE SEIZE MY HAPPINESS!”
Home, as they say, is where the heart is. Well, my heart has no physical residence; it floats freely, tethered to nothing more than my precious little nucleus.
Several Palm Trees stand proudly outside my window; they’re the same ones I witnessed hunched over last weekend during ruthless gusts of wind and ungodly amounts of rain. They’ve since recovered and once again, stand up straight.
I know this storm will too pass and I too will stand tall again.