After I began the medication, I became aware of his struggles, so we began to talk through the things we were both thinking and feeling.
I found solace in the song Held.
"This is what it means to be held, and to know, that the promise was when everything failed we'd be held."
Jay found his solace in the song Cry out To Jesus by Third Day, which was released early due to the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.
We both found our way. We discussed how we resisted feeling victimized by the hurricane. We felt guilty when we allowed ourselves to be counted as a victim becuase we were among the very fortunate. Many of our friends who lived on the first floors of the apartments, lost everything. We were able to at least salvage some of our belongings.
Many of the residents of New Orleans sufferred through blazing heat and flood waters while they waited for rescuers. We never sufferred through the repercutions of the hurricane.
We had little to complain about, but still, we sufferred deeply. WeE finally came to a place where we agreed that although we had not lost as much as others, nor had we sufferred as greatly as many had, we still expereinced a tragedy. It was okay for us to mourn, grieve, and finally move on with life. We were forced to make decisions in constricted circumstances, but eventually we had to make peace with our decisions and accept them, whether they were good or bad. We had to look forward and quit questioning whether we made the right choices.
Jay had found closure when he went back to our home to gather some of our things. I had never returned home. Saturday, August 27th, 2005, I walked out of my home and never returned. I still needed closure.
A month after Jude was born, Jay and I traveled back to New Orleans for his graduation. We left Benjamin and Levi with my parents, and traveled to attend the first graduation ceremony to be held since the hurricane.
We were fortunate to have friends still in New Orleans. Kevin and Lori, our friends who had taken us to dinner right after the hurricane, had moved back to pastor the church we attended. Again they helped us out and allowed us to spend the night with them. It was good to reconnect with several people we had known pre-Katrina.
Saturday, graduation day, came. It was exciting for us as we prepared Jay for his big moment. Jude, at just one month, was with us all the way. Then came the ceremony.
We listened as Dr. Kelley spoke. He called them the Katrina class. Truly they deserved a great honor becuase they had pushed through the most difficult event in their life and finished well. I was so proud of my Jay.
I anxiously listened as they called one name after another. I noticed families cheering for the graduate, standing and clapping. I wished, so deeply, that at least one member of one of our families could have come to witness this moment. He was the first in either one of our families to receive a Masters, and I would be the only one to witness the moment he received it.
His turn came, he walked on stage, shook Dr. Kelley's hand and received his degree. Tears welled up in my eyes, and my wish turned to deep, heart-felt pain as I wanted so badly to be able to yell and cheer as if a whole crowd was cheering him on. Nonetheless, I was proud, and satisfied to see this period of our life through.
We cried together after the ceremony, wishing his mom and dad could have witness his accomplishment, but we took pictures to share the moment.
Sunday morning we prepared to leave for home, right after we attended our church's morning service in a tent in the parking lot. The building was far from safe for meeting, but the parking lot tent with fenced off nursery was sufficient, and quite a blessing to us. More than that, it was closure for me.
At the end of our trip we knew we were forever changed. Our belongings no longer hold such importance in our lives. Fear has new meaning, and very few things in life can bring true fear to our hearts.
Giving is much easier. We experienced complete strangers handing over $100 bills to us. We witnessed immeasureable kindness and selflessness. Because of the compassion we were shown, we are excited to share what we have with others. When given an opportunity, we are excited to be part of another person's life in that way.
So many other parts of our hearts, minds, spirits and lives were changed. The lessons we learned and the confidence we gained could only be recorded in a number of books.
Even more important, so many of our beloved friends were still in New Orleans ministering, rebuilding, restoring, encouraging, and hurting and struggling. We could never forget the battle they faced, and continually prayed for the ones God called to stay.
Our lives will forever be connected to New Orleans, to people suffering immense tragedy, and to the least of these.
After the church service and long goodbyes to all our friends, we loaded our baby boy into the car and said goodbye once again, to our beloved New Orleans, and the most important chapter in our adult life.