Up until six and a half years ago, I had never experienced a power outage. My power has gone out for a few minutes, maybe even a few hours, but never for an extended period of time.
My first blackout experience was in October 2011, three weeks after my husband suddenly passed away. Our power went out due to a freak October snowstorm, and it stayed out for six days. Having just lost my husband, my spirit was already at its lowest possible point. Having no power at that time put my stress level through the roof. I was a grieving wife with two young grieving daughters, who now pretty much had no place to live. It was probably the most difficult week of my life. Looking back, I cannot fathom how I made it through.
The only reason I did survive that week was because my incredible friends all stepped up to help. We moved in with friends who had not lost power, and the support I received from all of my friends was unbelievable.
Fast forward to exactly one year after that October snowstorm – when Hurricane Sandy hit. It was like deja vu – power out again for six days. I could not make this up if I tried! I was probably in a slightly better place this time around, but I was still practically coming apart at the seams. Most people do not realize that a year is not a very long time to recover from a tragic loss.
Luckily, those friends of mine were still there for us. They opened their homes and helped out in any way they could.
The years that followed brought huge changes in my life, but thankfully no power outages. That did not stop me from worrying about it. Every time there was a snowstorm, a rainstorm, or even a harsh wind, I would feel my heart race just a little. The thought of being “homeless” once again truly scares me.
We had a good stretch with full electricity – until last week. An unusually heavy snowstorm hit here in NJ and out went the power.
The moment I realized that my lights, heat and TV would not be back in a few hours, but in a few days, all of those fears I had during the previous power outages came rushing back.
Heat and electricity are something we take for granted. I walk into my warm house and turn the lights on. I watch TV and use Wifi. It is not something I ever think about – until suddenly it is not there.
Once again, we stayed with our incredible and beyond generous friends. They opened their home to us, including my dog, and, although they won’t admit it, turned their own lives upside down. As far as friends go, I cannot say how lucky I am enough times.
This situation would stress anyone out. For me, it takes me right back to an awful time in my life. I have come a long way since those first two power outages – my girls are doing well, I started a blog and have become somewhat of a writer, and I have a great boyfriend. Even so, the lights go out and the thought that comes to me is “I’m alone in this – I wish my husband was here with us”.
Four days may not seem like a long time, but it feels like forever when your life gets turned upside down. I cannot count the number of times I thought to myself, “I just want to go home”. During times like this, I do something I do not like to do – I feel sorry for myself. I revert back to a time where I want to stomp my feet and scream, “It’s not fair!”
Eventually, our electricity came on and we moved back home. Suddenly, I was appreciative of everything in my house.
Now that my pity party and foot stomping are over, I look to count my blessings. Most importantly, my girls and I are lucky to have a wonderful home to go back to. I am also so very thankful for my friends. I often wonder what I would have done if they did not insist on us staying with them. The family that took us in are incredible people, as are others who also offered their homes to us.
There is one member of my family that did enjoy the power outage – my dog. Luckily, his best doggie friend is part of the wonderful family we stayed with. His friend shared his treats, his toys, and his favorite spots with him. He was the only sad member of our family when we moved back home.
I know my heart will continue to race at the sight of a snowflake but, for now, I am happy to be back in my house. There’s no place like home.