Four months after “The Storm,” Regina Robbins sifted through the remains of her home. The Mississippi Sound had surged inland, reducing the small brick house into a pile of broken dreams and debris. She and the workers from St. Anthony’s Episcopal Church sifted through the rubble, looking for pieces of her past. Like the Portkey in Harry Potter, each random object would take her to another seemingly random memory. But they weren’t random to her. They were mental bandages helping her heal. A ribbon from her daughter’s swim meet. An award from her job at the VA. Regina stood in the middle of the debris field and slowly sank to her knees. Four months of strength had worn her out. While the politicians in Washington had forgotten her, thankfully the parishioners at St. Anthony had not.
A light rain began to fall, chilling her and the volunteers. She looked out at the now still water and it reminded her of a sleeping killer. The water was still, seemingly toothless. But she knew better. The Sound would strike again. She was planning on moving north. She had had enough death and destruction for a lifetime.
“The Storm,” had, with all its brute power, changed the Coast forever. It had reduced well-built structures to scrap. And what previous storms had taken away, this one had given back. There was a rusty 1965 Chevrolet pickup truck at the end of her street. It had been sucked out to sea during Camille. Now the sea gave the old truck back. And the storm surge also performed other little oddities and miracles. It had reduced all the sheetrock into her house into little gooey balls. Furniture was obliterated into small scraps of wood. Cars were crushed like giants had beaten them with baseball bats. But as she stood in the cold mist, she saw something white in the mud.
It was plate.
It was a piece of her mother’s China.
The waves had taken the plate off the armoire and gently carried it. And then it, with equal gentleness, laid it down safely onto the debris.
Something so beautiful and delicate had survived hell. Like the devil himself had been repelled by the plate’s beauty.
Regina picked up the plate and wiped it off with her shirt. She felt another round of tears beginning to rise. Soon her face was as salty as the Sound itself. But the plate was a reminder to her. A reminder that would serve her through the rest of her life.
Even in the times of most radical change, Regina held on tightly to what was fragile and beautiful. Because after “the Storm,” she learned that while the strongest institutions could be washed way, beauty and grace are forever.