I recently connected with a friend of mine. June and I had not spoken in months. We were just
discussing the unusual good luck we’ve had with the weather. It was almost Christmas and we only had had one major winter storm. June started to tell me about the unfortunate luck her family suffered this summer. It was a warm summer evening, a typical July night; it was the calm before the storm, although they did not know it yet. She had just finished clearing off the dinner table with her husband. The kids, Emma who’s five and Jacob who’s seven, were getting along (June said maybe that should have been a sign something strange was about to happen) and watching television. A storm alert popped up, flashing red on the TV screen, a common occurrence in a New York summer.
They were not concerned until they lost power. The house was eerily silent until the crescendo of the whipping wind and booming thunder rattled the windows. The four of them made way to the basement. About ten minutes later she heard the most horrible sound she had ever heard in the comfort of her own home. She heard glass smashing, wood cracking, and a massive crash, all simultaneously.
About an hour later, silence filled their home again. They emerged from the basement to find the source of the massive crash. A large branch from the large oak tree in their front yard was struck by lightning and broke off, landing on the roof.
June immediately thought back to the conversation she and her husband had just a few weeks prior. They were trying to determine if the tree was dying and needed to be removed. She wished they had called a professional tree service when they had their initial concerns to look at the tree and determine whether or not it should go. They could have avoided the entire mess.
June’s immediate reaction was to blame herself since a simple consultation and tree or branch removal service could have prevented the disaster. However, she said they also met with an incredible amount of warmth and generosity from their neighborhood, and that she will never forget. June’s said she learned that even when times are difficult and she is feeling a lot of guilt, she always has a support system. June said she and her family are never alone.
Their homeowner’s insurance covered most of the monetary cost of damages, which was a weight off of their shoulders. Yet, there were things damaged and ruined that they will never get back. Most of the children’s clothes were destroyed beyond being salvageable. They lost photo albums, trophies from their kids’ soccer games, art work, books, and toys.
Their insurance put them up in a hotel while the house was being repaired. They do not have a kitchen (beyond a mini fridge and a microwave) to make daily meals. Eating out with two young children every day was not only a hassle but also a luxury they could not afford. Luckily, they did have to go through this struggle alone. The neighborhood hosted a clothing drive for June’s family, providing them with more than what they needed. The neighbors also organized a rotational meal schedule. We were provided with two meals daily, completely worry (and cost) free.
These gestures did much more than provide June’s family with necessities. June was truly touched and reminded not to blame herself for a tragedy she could not have predicted. The closeness of community got June’s family through this incredibly difficult time and provided June with an opportunity to grow. Through kindness, June allowed herself to let go of guilt and focus on what needed to be done to help her family and move forward.
This is a lesson that we can all learn from. Be there for those less fortunate, and never be afraid to accept a helping hand.