Writing on the Wall

Guess who's coming to shower?

Houseguests in a time of need


I came home from work one day last week, weary and a bit overwhelmed from trying to tell the hundreds of local stories that came out of Hurricane Sandy, but happy that I was lucky enough to have my electricity back after six days of darkness and quick, cold showers. I was greeted in my home by a strange young man, wrapped in a familiar towel, just getting out of a steamy shower — my shower!
“Uh, hi.” I said.
“Thanks for the shower!” he replied.

I soon found out that he was my 18-year-old son’s friend from Long Beach who couldn’t get back to his home — if he even had a home left at all — and that my last-born had offered him the use of our facilities. I had told my kids that since we now had heat and hot water, they could offer showers and some food to others who were not so lucky — but they had to know the person. In this case, a kindergarten friend qualified, even though I hadn’t seen this young man since he was playing tag with my son in the backyard 13 years ago. Still, I was happy to be able to help.

My best friend from Oceanside is sleeping on my couch indefinitely, and I’m thrilled to have her, even if it’s under such difficult circumstances. It’s kind of like one long girls’ sleepover, only now we talk about moisturizers and the best way to exfoliate our feet. My husband loves it, I’m sure. My friend can’t go back to her apartment complex until they evaluate and repair the damage that was done there by the storm. Until then, she makes us behave ourselves and keeps tabs on who goes in and out when I’m not there — a small blessing for us.

Many people were displaced or even left homeless by Hurricane Sandy, and many people rallied to help them. I had so many people offer me showers when my electricity was out that I really started to think they were trying to tell me that I smelled funny!

But now is the time to pay it forward, in any way you can. For many, the storm and its aftermath are not over. Their lives — our lives — have changed. Can you bake cookies? Bring them to someone you know who could use a little sweetness in their lives. Offer to walk a dog, do an errand, even sit and listen. Help them make phone calls, organize their bills, make lists. Light a candle, say a prayer — whatever you think may help, will help. Now, more than ever, we need one another. It’s in all of us to rise to the occasion.

Writing on the Wall won 1st place for "Best Column Writing" with Suburban Newspapers of America in 2010.


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