‘Please help us she a new born’

Why didn’t they evacuate?

We’re really gonna do this, huh?

Okay.

Three weeks after Kick was born I was so debilitated by physical pain, sleep deprivation and postpartum depression I could hardly breathe. The only places I had ever taken her were the doctor’s office and the grocery store, the latter over Mr. A’s terrified objections and my throat-constricting fear. I was still holding her gingerly, afraid I was going to hurt her walking from the kitchen to the living room and back again. That was as far as we got most days, back then.

The idea, even if we’d had the means, of putting her and our pets and everything important to us in a car and going to a hotel/motel/shelter/God knows where … I had the best-outfitted nursery on the planet, guys, with every modern convenience, and I thought I was gonna kill the baby all the time. I would 100 percent have stayed in that house until the waters rose over my head.

Why didn’t they evacuate? I don’t know what happened to empathy in this country, I really don’t. Do you have $500? In cash, right now, on you? Can you get it? Because that’s how much it will cost to get out for a day, even if you can, and you have no idea what you’ll come back to, or if you can come back, or when. Think about what it would be like to live like that, every single day, that close to the bone, and then think about what it would be like in a catastrophe.

You know what, forget empathy. Let’s try asking what happened to intelligence. Why didn’t you listen when every climate scientist and every environmentalist and everyone who understood public policy told you that wrecking the planet and underfunding public infrastructure would lead nowhere good? When three one-hundred-year storms hit in 12 years, why didn’t you pay attention then?

Or let’s try asking what happened to responsibility. What is our responsibility to that baby? What is our responsibility to her mother? What is our responsibility to one another? That person made choices you can armchair quarterback or did things you think you wouldn’t do? That doesn’t answer the question. What is our responsibility? To ourselves?

I keep seeing comments about how inspiring it is to see the kindness of strangers coming together to save who we can; that used to be what we called government, before government was a bad word, before it was everyone for himself, before saving people was a favor you did. Before you had to hope some stranger somewhere was kind. Before there were strangers, instead of fellow citizens, bound by contract, each to each. Our fate is your fate.

“Please help us she a new born.”

She’s safe now. Thousands aren’t, or won’t be.

And you can make yourself feel better about that, by saying they should have evacuated, or you can look at that baby and see your own baby, or yourself. You can push away the nagging feeling that you should do something by loudly making shit up about nonexistent scenarios in which you did everything right, or you could do what you’ll need done for you someday. Life isn’t a vending machine, no one makes perfectly sensible choices, babies are born in storms and saved by strangers.

As are we all.

A.

2 thoughts on “‘Please help us she a new born’

  1. Ten Bears says:

    With eight wildfires burning within a hundred miles, my neighborhood under a “be ready to leave now” order and neighborhood immediately to the north evacuated and on fire, there’s this thing that’s bugging me: a post made the rounds yesterday, I saw it at C&L and Raw Story, with a little blonde gal and a headline to the effect “we stayed, and lost everything.” No, you didn’t lose everything.

    Maybe it’s just the headline, but what bugs me, aside from the distraction these human interest stories from the fact that Harvey is the biggest baddest assed one in five hundred year hurricane to hit Texas in three/two years because the atmosphere and oceans are warming, and my mother is at a retirement center in Livingston, is the implication that staying had anything to do with losing everything. It was gone one way or the other.

    Apples oranges, fire and water. I don’t know. I get the maternal thing, I’ve raise four kids and am raising seven grandkids with more on the way; this old house has been in the family for seven generations. But if it goes it goes, there’s no point in us going with it.

    And I couldn’t and doubt any of my kids could individually lay hand on five hundred dollars right now.

    Like

  2. Third generation Texican here, South Plains/Panhandle flavor.
    My new truck is a 1994. My old truck is a 1997 with 224,090 on its clock, and I don’t know who’d let me show up with either one of them, let alone six cats and enough meds to fill two shelves, not to mention living where I live and thinking an actual orange gibbon would make a better president than the so-called one who graced Texas’ coast with a bullshit flyby drop-in photo op, and we’d have a lot less feces in the air and water too.

    Like

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