Knowing what it means to miss New Orleans
My husband and I never lived in New Orleans, but we have discussed the possibility many times. If it weren't for the heat much of the year, we just might have made the move to NOLA. There is something about the city that gets inside your skin. Its beauty, its complex history, its mix of people. When we visited in the summer for our first wedding anniversary, you couldn't walk down to a new street corner without hearing "Summertime."
Before Katrina, I missed New Orleans every day. I have postcards of her in my cubicle at work. I decorated our bedroom with Mardi Gras masks, framed vintage postcards and a vintage decorative plate. There's an old map of the Quarter framed in our kitchen as well as a collage frame of pictures of Bill and I from that anniversary trip. Before Katrina, there were already reminders of the city that stole my heart. Now I wonder, as we all do, when that city will return.
As of late last night, I heard from the last acquaintance of mine from the area. Rob and his family are okay. The Priestess and her partner are okay. Deb and her family are okay, Ericka and Ryan are okay. I am so very relieved. My heart still aches for those who have been lost, though. How can it not? How can any of us not feel the loss of so many?
Last December, when Bill and my parents and I visited NOLA, I met Priestess Miriam. As a tour group shuffled through the store and back room of the Voodoo Spiritual Temple, she said, "Come on in, everyone. After the tsunami and all the lives we have lost, let's see how many we have left. Come on in." I was touched by what she said then. I had no idea how fitting her words would become.
As you may know, for those of you on my e-mail list, I am dedicating the second issue of "Epitaphs Magazine" to the cemeteries of New Orleans. I would also like to open this up to the all the cemeteries of the South that were affected by Katrina. There is already talk of how people are concerned about the fate of these historic cemeteries. The concern is always prefaced by the expression of wanting to help the living first, though the cemetery concern is always underlying. Of course, it is. It is nothing to be ashamed of. We have all come together because of our love for cemeteries and the history inside them. It is a given that the living come first. Not a one of you has to worry about anyone thinking you are only thinking of the dead. I have seen more heart in these groups than I have time to share right now before I head to work. We may be cemetery lovers, but first and foremost, we love them because we celebrate life.
My heart goes out to everyone affected by the hurricane, and I wish you the best. If there is anything your fellow Americans and cemetery lovers can do, all you need to do is ask.
All the best,