Today is my mom’s birthday.
We definitely are celebrating her birthday today, but we didn’t celebrate it 17 years ago. At that time, we were glued to the television set wondering how in the world we were going to get through the next week.
Today, 17 years ago, I was sitting in my parents’ house, trying to figure out how I was going to get married on Saturday and where my new husband and I were going to live – and if we would have jobs after we said “I do.”
My supervisor at the coffee shop was in a full-blown panic. He, way more than me, recognized the severity of the hurricane crashing down on New Orleans. When I told him I wasn’t sure if I was coming back to New Orleans this whole week, he very exasperatedly told me, “I don’t know if any of us are.”
Kyle and I watched throughout the week as more and more bad news seemed to flood out of the New Orleans area. We searched the news for any sight of our apartment, our friends’ apartments, our places of work. We saw our nearby mall underwater – we had purchased a necklace from a store in that mall and left it there to be resized for our wedding day.
Thankfully, we weren’t planning to get married in New Orleans. My dress, my shoes, our location – all in north Louisiana.
By Wednesday, by the grace of God, we had secured jobs in Ruston. Remember that job that Kyle told Malcolm he couldn’t take because he had just signed an apartment lease? Turns out that job was still available – and, as you can see, changed the whole course of our life.
With jobs secure, we still had no place to live, but we figured that was a small matter in comparison to having jobs to pay rent. With an immediate future that was quite different from the one we had planned just six months previously, we exchanged vows that weekend in front of friends and family – many of whom were also hurricane evacuees.
It wasn’t a smooth day – I don’t think wedding days ever are. In fact, we forgot to purchase a cake cutter, so my dad and I rushed up to town just hours before the wedding to find one. My father, who eloped with my mother and offered me cash instead of a wedding, saw how stressed I was and said, ever so eloquently, “You know, you could be on a beach in Hawaii, and I could be mowing the yard, and we both would be happy.”
Thanks, Dad, for that pep talk.
In the end, Kyle and I ended up married. We said our vows, we exchanged rings, and we were married. Despite a hurricane, despite loss of jobs, gain of jobs, moving and not having all of our belongings, we were married. And that’s all that really mattered.
But the cleanup with Katrina – including, for us personally, retrieving our belongings – had just begun.
Part Three coming next Monday.