An Anniversary of Sorts

November 9, 2006

Last year on this date (November 9), I had just returned home from my first pet rescue trip in post-Hurricane Katrina Louisiana. I volunteered for 8 days with Alley Cat Allies at their base camp in Bogalusa, Louisiana. It’s hard to imagine a whole year has passed. There isn’t a single day that goes by that I don’t think about my experiences there, and of my time with ARNO and then the months with Best Friends Animal Society. I’m including the good memories with the bad here, too.

I wish I could say that I’m “over it”, but I’m not. I fully expected I would be stronger and that it wouldn’t affect me to the extent it has. I guess I thought that I could just pick up where I left off with my life here and be on my merry way. Now, I know that is not going to happen and, honestly, I doubt my life will ever be the same. Experiences like that change a person forever and it’s just something I’m going to have to deal with forever. Plain and simple, I just see the world through different eyes now.

But, ya know what? I don’t regret a single second of my time there. And, if given the chance, I would it all over again. I might be slightly damaged, but I’m not broken. Personally, I like to think my nicks and cracks (not to mention the bites, scratches and bruises ;-)) just add character to an already strong, but not totally unbreakable, foundation.

Here’s hoping another year goes by where the hurricanes are weak and the foundations grow stronger.

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Kathy Landry November 12, 2006 at 11:35 pm

Hi! Just wanted to let you know that I too think about my New Orleans experience daily and like you, I would do it all again, yet also I feel damaged as well (and admittedly occasionally feel broken) and am still struggling to find any kind of balance in my life. I alternate between a sense of purpose and feeling self-esteem for what I did there, and other times filled with guilt and regret that I couldn’t have done more. Most of the time I feel that I am actually still there in the Lower Ninth Ward which is where I did most of my rescue work, frozen in time…my memory is so vivid (more so than any other place or experience in my life)that it truly feels that I am actually there when I remember it. And it was like I was on another planet when I was there. Sometimes I feel only half present in my “normal” life. The thing is that when I was in NOLA, every moment felt that it was lived “on purpose”…I felt better being there doing SOMETHING to help, even tho it was challenging emotionally and difficult than being back home feeling that there is nothing I can do for the animals still there…When there I was surrounded by so many other rescuers who understood the feelings but now back home, my life, friends, everything has shifted and changed due to my experiences and this seasoning of my soul. Though I have very meaningful things in my life…such as my animals…including Pumpkin and Miss Mew (both of whom are doing wonderfully), My days seem filled with a driving force to be back in New Orleans for more rescue. Hang in there…thank you for writing about your NOLA adjustment challenges…I check your blog from time to time and whenever you mention NOLA and your experiences there, I seem to grab on to the common thread between us. It is usually late at night when I seem to feel restless about going to sleep…like I’m needing to feel connected with NOLA and my experience there, so I’ll read your blog, the ARNO volunteer site, etc. So thank you for helping to bring some peace to my heart. Good night! Kathy (Pump and Mew send you hugs!)

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