Saturday, March 11, 2006

A Break from It All

A respite from the ordinary once in a while is a good thing. Everyone needs some downtime and everyone is in need of time to catch up on things that have gotten the best of them. In this case, I am no different. There is so much I wish to do with this week away from classes. I feel the freedom, and it feels wonderful.

However, I must reflect what the school year in its whole has brought me, certainly both sadness and joy. This year has brought me a certain gaping hole, a void of loss. In August and September we faced hurricane after hurricane along the Gulf Coast. Dennis was immediately after the Fourth of July, chasing me from Gulf Shores, AL. Katrina wrecked havoc on New Orleans like no other in the days leading up to September. Then came Rita in an uncharacteristic swipe at Texas and southwest Louisiana. Thankfully I was able to remain out of harm's way for each, while still praying for those who were in the crosshairs of Nature's fury. One can only hope that this hurricane season is less eventful and, as a result, less destructive. Then in September I remembered the loss of Brian from late spring. New friends have entered since then but sadness for the emptiness of friends long gone remains.

And so I remember Brian as I traveled down the same highway he did coming close to a year now. I think of him each time I travel that busy state highway. I can't help but think of him and his accident. I curse the undivided stretch that took his life and bless the promise of a better road design the engineers have come up with that will, in the future, stem the number of deaths attributed to that deadly stretch of payment between College Station and Houston. So I traveled that highway with the sun blazing red light in its final moments of the day, thinking not only of the sadness but also of the comfort of being on the road.

With all that was lost in memories to my home city, with all that has changed, and with all that will never be the same, I find that in that roadway things never change. In driving those stretches of highways so many times one loses the need for road maps and even the signs and the mile markers. The buildings and the scenery act as small landmarks to guide the way and of which never seem to change. It becomes almost a comforting thing on which to rely, if only life and home were that guaranteed. Granted, those in New Orleans are fortunate to have the wherewithal to still be here today, something that one couldn't count on in years past, but I still feel a sense of loss with what I remember to be gone...and something that shall never remain the same.

In all of these thoughts I have come to the conclusion that there is a time to think of the past and what was then and there is a time to look to the future and what is to be. We can only hold on to things for so long, and we can only love what you have while you have it. Turning over a new leaf is something we all must learn to do.