Our vacation had been on the books for a year.
We would be headed back to what we call “our little island in the Gulf”…Captiva Island. Two of our kids who hadn’t vacationed there in several years, along with the grands were planning to join us. We watched from the Midwest in “wait and see” mode for how Captiva would fair after hurricane Irma had her way.
At one point, Irma was predicted as a direct hit for Captiva and neighboring Sanibel as a category 4 hurricane. That prediction, come to fruition, would most likely be catastrophic for the tiny Captiva.
Irma made a turn inland and the winds were only 60mph instead of 120mph plus, with only a relatively small storm surge, which made its way through our shed, but not high enough to affect the foundation of the cottage.
As it turned out the family before us didn’t want to follow the storm which allowed my husband and I to come a few days early before the rest of our gang to do any cleanup and repair necessary.
Irma (quickly followed by hurricane Maria) caused so much devastation, totally annihilating islands in the Caribbean. Other parts of Florida suffered destruction from high winds and flooding and even today, Florida residents are losing homes to sinkholes cause by the over- abundance of rain from Irma soaking into the sandy earth. Lest we forget, Hurricane Harvey had wreaked havoc on the state of Texas only a few weeks prior. Memories from 2004 and Hurricane Charley making landfall right on Captiva and North Captiva with winds of 150mph seemed all too fresh. So much loss and suffering is heartbreaking.
So, I sit here, writing from the island with much gratitude.
Captiva was not, however, unscathed. Its beauty has definitely been interrupted.
Trees are brown, broken and strewn about. Bushes are stripped bare. Roofs are un-shingled. The beach is battered. Walkways are destroyed. Pieces of boats lie scattered on the sand.
Power outages destroyed refrigerator contents and debris floated in pools damaging pumps once the power was reinstated. And the smell of decaying sea life permeates the air.
As I take it all in, I am reminded how storms blow into our lives on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes it seems that just as our head rises for a breath, another blast is on its way, like hurricane Maria coming on the tailwinds of Irma. We might find ourselves trying to outrun the storm or hunkering down just to make it through.
Storms of life are inevitable, right? But how we weather them is key to not only survival but shining like the sun on the other side.
Here are some lessons and discoveries the island is giving me following the blow it received:
-The scars are hidden in the backdrop of the beauty.
-Already death gives way to new life as the bushes sprout new green leaves from their browned stalks.
-A flower unfolds in all its glory from it now spindly host.
-Beautiful shells are scattered across the beach and though their decaying inhabitant offers a stench in the present moment, it will be a small treasure for the one who holds it in their hands…gifts from the sea.
-The shoreline is carved from the storm, offering its own kind of unique beauty.
-Every roll of a wave reminds us that things are fluid and ever changing and that the battering from the storm will soon be smooth and even.