About eight months after Hurricane Katrina, my family flew to California. We had a layover in Denver, and as I sat in the airport, I could feel something. Something different. I turned to my husband and said "It's weird here. These people. It's weird. You can tell they haven't been through a disaster."
The air was different. The lines of worry on people's faces were different. The way they walked and greeted each other and spoke on the phone. It was different.
When we actually touched down in California and visited with our friends there, it was even more obvious. To them the Hurricane was now nothing more than an occasional afterthought. Nearly everyone asked how things were going in New Orleans, of course, but no one really wanted to hear about it. They didn't want to hear about the lack of progress, the people still without homes, the stalling insurance companies, the stalling government. For us the recovery was front page news, everyday. It still is. For them, it was over, for the most part.
We found it very difficult.
Now I sit here half a world away from 2 natural disasters, disasters far greater than Katrina. Higher death tolls. Higher injuries. More people lost. One government who won't even accept foreign aid, or wants to control it.
My heart is breaking. For I know, in a small, small way, the pain, the confusion, and the long road ahead for the survivors and the relief givers. And yet I sit on my porch, with a glass of iced tea and my lap top. Stressed about the planning I have yet to do for Vacation Bible School. Preparing for an audition this weekend. Looking forward to a trip to visit friends and family this summer.
And half a world away things are very, very different. It is not an afterthought. It is not someone else's problem. It is very, very real. It is unavoidable. It is horrific. There will be moments of extreme grace and heroism. There will be corruption and people taking advantage. There will be no escaping it.
I feel broken, yet relieved. Powerless and hypocritical. Lost.