Some time after Hurricane Irma I lit a candle at church with a briefer form of these comments:
It all started with the chocolate.
The sound was deafening–high winds roaring past my window, the street acting like a researcher’s wind tunnel turned up to high.
It wasn’t just the noise that caused hair-raising fear. It was the complete persistence of it all. There was never, I mean never, a break in the horrendous roaring.
Once in a while I would feel intensely claustrophobic and dare to open the door of my inside closet space to see if it had begin to die down in any minute way. This brazen risk always ended with a mad dash back to the relative safety of my closet/bathroom area.
At other times I relieved my anxiety by snacking on my hurricane supplies. An eternity or two later I realized I’d been cooped up for far more than 24 hours, napping just a bit now and then. Each time I dozed off, I aroused to the disappointment that the intense wailing was still in full force.
Eventually I awoke the next morning to the strange sensation of silence. As I surveyed the damage, I knew I had been lucky. Yet food was spoiled, ice was melted, and my water supply was dwindling. And all this before the roads were clear.
Then I remembered I had some dark chocolate squares in my silverware drawer. They tasted so good and gave me the quick energy to figure out what to do next.
All too soon reality began to knock me in the knees. Upon checking I found that my husband’s wonderful Assisted Living place had no power and the power company said they were not on a priority list! They were using generators but as the days went on, it did not solve all their needs.
Although I’ve never really considered myself an activist, but when my power returned and theirs didn’t this seemed so unfair and I simply had to act. I stayed up most of the night and fired off over 50 emails to literally every local, state, and national leader I could think of.
The next morning as I was dragging myself up I got a call from a local TV investigative reporter I knew. He asked if I could be there in 5 or 10 minutes. I gulped and said 10. He was sending a helicopter to the scene of no electricity, and several other news agencies responded to my call for adult care homes to have priority when a blackout lasts several days.
I never knew all the details, but was glad to hear they got power back quickly then, and I continued to lobby for adult care places like this assisted living to be on the same type of list hospitals and schools enjoyed the next time it happened.
Now the urgent issue was me. AC was back, but I was out of money and afraid to venture out so I took stock: most food was spoiled, and I was running low on non-perishable food. I was traumatized and feeling really bad, and hunger was ever present. To top it off, I seemed to be getting a UTI!!! I was lucky to have some urinary pain meds I could start but I knew I’d need a doctor soon.
Then in my confusion and discomfort I again remembered the chocolate! It got me through that evening till I could get medical services the next day.
As my Chocolate Energy surged a bit, I got on Facebook at once feeling blessed to mark myself safe, yet griping a bit about food issues. I mentioned, tongue in cheek, that all hope was almost lost since I was running out of chocolate. (My friends know the only reason I live on Planet Earth is because it’s the only planet with chocolate:-)
Venting to my friends seemed to reduce my stress levels so I went about the business of picking up the pieces of my daily life. But soon packages began to arrive from all over: food, snacks, paper towels, and blessed be, CHOCOLATE! Several had heard about my chocolate dilemma and brought some chocolate to my home. One fine friend even brought cheese and we had a shared feast then and there, topped off by chocolate of course.
Before it was all over, I had enough (given that I’d stick to my daily allowance of two squares a day) to last till Valentine’s Day! Then when that day arrived, a good friend from church slipped a box of chocolates to me as we walked into the service.
What the chocolate taught me is the amazing value of kindness. When friends sent and brought me goodies including chocolate it was jam packed with love and encouragement. And this was at a time when I was barely surviving on overwhelm mode.
So keep in mind how important acts of kindness–chocolate or not–can be in lifting a friend’s spirits when tough times come.
I will always try to include chocolate in my hurricane supplies, some for me and some to pass along to others.
May the Blessings of Chocolate always be with you:-)
Copyright 2019 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.