Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

Turning The Lights Off Can Be… Illuminating

So, remember that revision cave I told you about?

Well, as you might have guessed, this week Mother Nature pulled me out of it. Instead, my house became a cave of sorts: dark and cold one, though pretty well stocked with food, wine, flashlights, board games and water.

Hurricane Sandy brought such devastation to our shocked little state of New Jersey, we all are pretty incredulous. I mean, we aren’t the Bahamas. We aren’t   equipped. Hurricanes and nor’easters that visited here used to make history. What are they going to be now, a yearly event?

The truth is, my family and I, all hunkered down with cold pancakes and books and Time’s Up, and Mastermind and Uno, and most of all, with each other, had a blast. We were sort of disoriented at first — what do we do without all of our precious media? How do we hang out together for days? But we got right down to business of making the most of it pretty quickly.  We slept all together on mattresses on the first floor, my daughter squeezing my hand when she got scared. 

My superhero husband boiled water for us on a barbecue (melting the pot a little in the process).  And then he grilled those  defrosted chicken nuggets from our now useless freezer, and let me tell you, charred on the grill this way, they tasted soo good. That night, I listened to the soft breathing of the people I love the most in the world — in between the crazy wind gusts shaking the walls of our house. Heartwarming and scary, the night is now a treasured memory.  

This is what disasters do to us, I guess. They remind us of what’s precious, as sad as it is that we need to be reminded at all, but we do. They pull us closer to each other in the most real way. They also make us realize what a wonderful invention electricity really is. 🙂

When the lights came on at the end of Monday, we dropped our “Time’s Up” cards and ran around the house, screaming and cheering, like cavemen.

Disaster or not, I actually still managed to make pretty good progress on my revision, every day (woo-hoo for my husband’s super-charged super laptop!). The whole surreal experience felt like a grand adventure — a cozy family retreat.

Then we checked the news — saw those awful pictures.

Suddenly, I felt guilty for having such a great time of it. While we had this big togetherness party, other people were getting hurt. Losing their homes. I grieved for these strangers, who loved their families as much as I love my own. Before the hurricane hit, I promised my kids that we would be save, to assuage their worries. These other parents might have promised their children the same thing — and it chills me that they weren’t able to keep those promises.

Walking up and down our street afterwards, it was humbling how capricious Sandy has been. While the only thing misplaced on and around our property was a single shingle from our roof, homes just next door, or across the street had trees uprooted, chunks of sidewalk lifted, fence sections broken, gutters hanging down at odd angles. And just a few towns over, homes were gone. A few hundred miles away, lives had ended.

Even as I grieved, though, I cheered, for those who, like us, have made it out alive and well — and are now getting their lights turned on. Life and death are a contrast, that, like lights and darkness, make the world come into sharper focus for all of us.

 How did you fare in the hurricane? Was Sandy kind to you?

P.S. On a totally unrelated note, sorry about the video ad, below — which sometimes shows, and then mysteriously disappears at other times. It’s this new thing wordpress is doing, apparently — something I have no control over — and am not crazy about, to be honest with you. I am not paying for an upgrade right now, because I resent this tactic of forcing me to consider it.  But I will look into my options and either switch to a different blogging site or find another way to revamp my blog and/or site. Thanks for your patience!


November 2, 2012 - Posted by | Personal Mirror |


  1. Beautifully written. I cried when I read about the promises to children that couldn’t be kept and the paragraph before your closing question brought chills down my spine. We too rallied like an incredible team and cozied up, but once the cable came on, I also was overwhelmed with guilt. So much so that I felt awful to go on vacation when so many close to home are suffering. But I know that my family needs this and we are visiting our distant family, so we are bonding in a healthy way. It just all seems so surreal. To see Seaside where I spent so many childhood vacations, ran the boardwalk countless times, walked for a cure for Diabetes for 8 years is destroyed. Just heart-wrenching…

    Comment by Debbie Clarke | November 2, 2012 | Reply

    • Thank you, Debbie. I didn’t see many of those images yet — couldn’t bring myself to yet, I guess. Please enjoy your vacation and your family, because that’s what life is all about for those who go on living, even while we pay homage to those who can’t do these simple things anymore.

      Comment by Katia Raina | November 2, 2012 | Reply

  2. Glad you’re okay, Katia. Yes, this “superstorm” was just horrifying. I can’t get over the photos and video of the devastation in New Jersey and New York, especially. It will take months and cost billions of dollars. And some things will never be put right. Here in PA we were very lucky. There are some huge trees down in our neighborhood, but miraculously we only lost power for 1 minute.

    Comment by Joanne Fritz | November 2, 2012 | Reply

    • Thanks, Joanne, so glad you and yours are okay too.

      Comment by Katia Raina | November 2, 2012 | Reply

  3. I’m glad you and your family are okay. What a horrifying storm. I never imagined anything this big happening in the Northeast. It’s chilling seeing the pictures of the damage. I know people will rebuild, but it’s going to take plenty of time and money. It will happen, though.

    Storms are capricious. I see it here, too.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | November 3, 2012 | Reply

    • Sorry, couldn’t reply earlier… but yes, I agree with you, it will happen! And you know all about the capriciousness, Medeia, I am sure, you dweller of the land of hurricanes…

      Comment by Katia Raina | November 4, 2012 | Reply

  4. I am so glad you survived and even thrived through it all. Yes, really sad overall though. Survivor’s guilt won’t let us fully enjoy the goodness we have. And perhaps that is as it should be.

    Comment by joycemoyerhostetter | November 20, 2012 | Reply

    • Beautifully said, Joyce. You’re right.

      Comment by Katia Raina | November 20, 2012 | Reply

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