When tragedy strikes, sometimes one has to throw all plans and to-do lists out the door and realize how much you have to be proud of and grateful for.
Monday, October 29th (approximately 5:30 a.m.)
I sat down in my warm and cozy home office in Ohio, intent on checking off all the items written down on my very long to-do list. Included in this list was a follow-up with Teresa McCarthy, a leader with the Long Beach Library Mothers’ Center in New York who had agreed weeks ago to write a guest post letter to her children. I shot her a brief email to make sure we were still on schedule and then thought nothing more of it as I quickly moved down the rest of my to-do list and got on with the rest of my long day.
Tuesday, October 30th
After a windy, stormy night in Ohio, I woke up to hear the unbelievable news of the destruction that Sandy had left behind on the East Coast. As news trickled in about the safety and whereabouts of my co-workers and friends that lived in the storm’s path, I will admit that from my home in Ohio it was hard to fully grasp the reality that many of them were dealing with.
Wednesday, October 31st
I paused in horror as I read an email that came through from Teresa who had evacuated her home, had no power, and most likely had lost the letter she had been writing. I remembered the note I had written to her on Monday (before fully comprehending the effects of the storm yet to take place), realized (in hindsight) how insensitive the timing of my email must have looked to her and promptly responded back that her letter need be the least of her worries. My heart broke as I thought of her family’s struggles.
Thursday, November 1st
My email inbox “binged,” indicating another email from Teresa. She wrote to tell me how it could be months before her family might be able to return to their home. Their car was underwater. They had no water, no power, no sewers, no schools… BUT, despite their circumstances she felt she had so much to be grateful for and insisted she wanted to rewrite her letter.
Sunday, November 4th
I received the following bio:
Teresa McCarthy is the mother of two girls, Grace and Anna. She is mostly a stay-at-home mom who dabbles in a bit of everything including being: a girl scout leader, a Mothers’ Center facilitator, a kayaker, a bowler, a book club participant and also a part time employee for her family’s business. She hopes to reside in Long Beach, NY again real soon.
Along with the following photo:
Grace and Anna (Teresa’s children) in their 2012 Halloween costumes.
And the following guest post from Teresa who indeed has a lot to be thankful for.
Dear Grace & Anna,
I was asked to write this letter to you with the theme of motherly advice. The main point was for you to always be true to yourselves. I still believe that whole-heartedly however…
Hurricane Sandy hit our beautiful beach town and house this past week and just like the storm that blew in, all of my thoughts and emotions have been swirling around. The feelings that dominate within me are gratitude and pride for both of you.
You both followed directions so nicely when I told you to pack your princess suitcases with:
- 1 pair of pajamas
- 2 outfits
- Your puppies
- And your special heart blankets
I thought we would only have to evacuate our home for an overnight – two tops. We were going on an adventure and you were excited!
I was so proud of the way you worked together to pick a handful of your combined favorite toys (princess castle & Hess cars of course!) so that we’d have something to play with during the storm.
I was confident that our waterproofed basement playroom would be perfectly intact when we returned home. I never imagined that all of your toys would be ravaged by water and sewage.
I was heartbroken for you when you woke up on Halloween morning and realized that your pirate costumes were still at the house in Long Beach. We wouldn’t be trick or treating in our neighborhood with our friends.
That was the final straw.
We all marched back to our house with boots on to salvage our dry costumes and bags of candy.
I am thankful that the strangers whose doors we knocked on in a different town welcomed us with open arms. Halloween was not lost. You still got lots of treats!
Gracie, your inner strength amazed me when I told you we wouldn’t be able to have your birthday party as planned the next week because our home was inhabitable and all of your friends were now scattered across the Tri-State area. Together we came up with another plan and we’ll still celebrate your 6th birthday in grand style. You smiled and were happy.
I shed so many tears that week, but I didn’t really have to.
I was crying for the things we lost instead of celebrating the things that we have.
I have both of you, my two, amazing girls. I am grateful that Daddy was safe trying to protect our house during the storm and that we’re all together again.
Despite having to move into Aunt Maureen’s house…
Despite the unknown of when we can go home…
Of when school will begin again…
Of when Long Beach will have power, water & sewer services again…
You have been exactly the same: my two smart, good girls.
- You still want to dance to Carly Rae Jepsen.
- You still want to color, read stories, play matching games and play with the princess castle.
- You still want me to snuggle at night.
- You still giggle uncontrollably when someone farts.
- You still want a snack every 15 minutes.
You are exactly the same as you were this time last week when everything was normal.
You see, you’ve taught me that our house is not our home. Being together is what counts. Not the routine that I thought was so important, or the stuff that we accumulated or the many activities I sign you up for.
Grace & Anna, you are my most important treasures. I am so grateful to be your mother, and I am so thankful for both of you. I don’t ever need to write you a letter giving you advice…
Because you teach me every day and remind me of what is truly important.
With Love Always,
Leave a Comment: I am humbled by Teresa’s words and story. Please help to welcome her to the Mothers Central Blog by leaving her a comment and sharing her letter with others.
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