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A Borrowed Phrase

A friend calls it the rhyme of circumstances. The way pieces of our lives are marked by constants we cannot explain.

My daughter was born in August. My husband’s father was dying at the time. He made it to our home, and he held her. He died just a few weeks later, right after Hurricane Ivan devastated the Florida panhandle.

A year later we celebrated her first birthday with a small family gathering at my parents’ home on the Mississippi coast. It was the weekend of Katrina. We evacuated, and it was two weeks before we could return home. My parents’ home flooded and had to be torn down to the studs. Their neighbors across the street were washed into my parents’ house and rode out the storm on the kitchen island drinking bottled coca-colas from the birthday party. Their home was nothing but a slab.

The week of the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, our younger daughter received her first dose of a trial therapy for her rare metabolic bone disease. I wrote about it at the time. Memories of devastation and systemic racism, but also hope.

This week we celebrated our older daughter’s 16th birthday. I posted her picture on Instagram with a caption referencing the dual hurricanes in the Gulf. Marco + Laura = Marah. I felt so witty. I never write good captions.

My mother-in-law’s husband is dying, and Hurricane Laura struck the coasts of Louisiana and Texas last night. My caption doesn’t feel witty anymore.

I wonder what this all means. Natural disasters and death combined with milestone moments. I consider reading both girls’ horoscopes. A virgo and an aquarius, the virgin and the water bearer. I can hear my mother’s disapproval and concern that I would even consider these signs.

I think about the silent but also eerie peace in the eye of a storm, the brief moments of clarity that are surrounded by chaos. I pray that as both of my children navigate this “rhyme of circumstances,” that they learn to grieve and to celebrate simultaneously. That these moments in time are capable of bringing them both introspection and empathy, but also joy.

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