After Sandy, a new appreciation for our home state emerges.

I’m having a hard time finding the words.

This past week has been a long one for most of us. Long, and not particularly kind. We started the week preparing to ride the storm out, and ended it feeling a little older, a little broken, a little sad. All these things, and above all else, blessed.

Is it possible to feel guilty about your blessings? This week, our hometown walked away almost untouched by the devastation that came with hurricane Sandy. Oh, sure, there were some broken tree limbs, some flooded streets and some power outages. Some of us were shut out of jobs, the schools were closed, and we all lived through a barrage of automatic phone calls about the date we’ll be trick or treating. But when we turned on the news or signed into Facebook, we realized that we were, at most, inconvenienced. Inconvenienced, and very blessed.

And as I watched the images of homes and livelihoods swept away, shorelines shifting and the seaside piers disappearing under the waves, I knew that the blessing I’m feeling is more than being spared the devastation of a storm. I feel overwhelmingly grateful that I live here, in New Jersey. I know that we are traditionally joked about, scoffed at and made fun of. But this week, we’re reminded that we’re not the stuff of punch lines or the cast of Jersey Shore. Instead, we’re sprawling farmlands and busy cities, the marvelous coastline and those real “down the shore” memories and traditions. I think we took a step back this week, and realized how very much we had that was precious. How very much we had to lose.

I’m thankful to live here, just a highway away from New York and DC, right outside Philly and hours from the mountains. But it’s more than proximity. It’s the people who live here. Yes, I know that there have been some ugly incidents, but for the most part we’ve reached out to each other, watched out for each other and kept each other in our prayers. We know recovery will be a long haul, but it’s a journey we’ll travel together.

So this week, as we settle back into our new normal, let’s thank the first responders, the police and the firefighters, the fundraisers and the organizations that are making sure the people who need help are getting it. Thanks as well to our leaders, from the president and the  governor and all the way down, who put aside party politics and put people first this week.

That reminds me—the election is upon us. But more importantly, so is Thanksgiving. I’m having a hard time finding the words right now, but it’s become increasingly easy to count my blessings, the first one being this place I call home.

dclvm November 04, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Mary about the past week. Could not have said this any better myself!!! I myself, feel extrememly thankful and blessed!!!
Dianna Kelly November 05, 2012 at 03:25 PM
I agree, we were very fortunate during the storm...hard to watch all the videos we have seen. Our first responders, Governer, President all have worked hard to help those in need. Thoughts and prayers go to Autumn's family...there are no words to say how despicable an act this was..over a bike. Your column spoke the words many of us thought.


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