Marie-Louise, Asheville, NC “Previous Life in the Rearview Mirror”

I lived in New Orleans in August 2005, when the United States and people allover the world witnessed one of the most devastating and costly hurricanes in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina. It brought New Orleans residents worst fears to life flooding a majority of the city. I lived in Lakeview, where the first levee broke and about 14 feet of water flooded everything. I left the city at 7 AM in the morning of the storm to escape the possible devastation. It took 2 months before it was safe to return to the area that once was beautiful and lush. Most houses were damaged from the flood or simply swept away.

The master bedroom. All that is left is the Japanese doll in the case

The hope of finding anything in the house,that was emotionally important, vanished very quickly. One could only enter the house in a full body suit, mask and boots.

 

All family mementos and all pictures and letters were gone. Of everything I had in that house, only a fragile Japanese doll remained intact.

Here is a close-up of the most delicate Japanese porcelain doll.

 

 

 

The flood broke everything into shreds. Only small and lightweight items could survive.  Looking at my former life laying in a moldy pile in front of the house, I felt I was stripped down to survival and starting over.

All that is left of my life in New Orleans

The process of living in a new city and starting over with everything and making new memories was very healing. It took a long time to feel safe and happy again. For me it was like death and rebirth at the same time. Something beautiful ends and something new and possibly beautiful begins. It is a great gift to be open minded to new situations and recognizing the opportunities to discover new things and adventures. The process was similar to grieving a passing of a loved one, just this was a life that ended and started anew. Fast forward to another move to where I live now. I actually found my soul mate and true home in every sense of the word here. Katrina with all its trauma and forced rethinking of my life, brought me a lot of joy to my life. I had once a vision, many years ago. It was a large beautiful tree that lost all its leaves and looked bare and “naked”. It then regrew new leaves, stronger, fuller and greener than ever. It became the most beautiful tree I have ever seen. That is how I look at Katrina; it brought so much sadness, yet eventually so much joy. I learned to be able to adapt quickly and see opportunity, where others see disappointment. The process of stripping everything from our lives and starting anew is like a healthy rebirth.

Hurricane Katrina, in a strange way, has actually made me into a better person and more appreciative of meaningful living. The bottom line for me is that love in all its forms is everything. All other “things” is just “fluff”. “

For me looking back means I experience life so much more mindful and joyful now.