"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Decade

A decade. 10 years. 

What can happen in 10 years?  What has happened in 10 years?

2 moves: 1 apartment and our first house. 3 children. 3 jobs at 3 different schools. 175ish students I've taught. The loss of our first dog. The adoption of 4 others. 4 cars.  2 campers. A trip to Disney World.  There's so much more too, a decade's worth of adventures.  The last ten years have been busy, but amazing.  We have had our ups and downs and we have been thoroughly blessed.

Today marks the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  Every year on this day New Orleans is on my heart and mind, but especially so today.  I mean, ten years is a long time.  A long time.  In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago, something that is so far in the past that it's hard to even imagine it happened.  Yet there are times when I can close my eyes and instantly we are back there.  I can see every detail of our apartment, our school, the city, the Mardi Gras parades we attended.  As with any memory, there are parts that will always remain in the forefront of my mind, while others have faded so much they are almost gone.  

It was truly an amazing time in our life.  Amy and I were fresh out of college and newly married.  We were in a new city far (6 hours) from home.  Not just any city either, New Orleans, it was like we'd moved to a whole other country.  But that's what makes New Orleans special.  It is like no other place on earth.  We made friends with our coworkers, some of whom we are still in touch with.  Granted it's via Facebook, but we do still communicate.  The Kindergarten teacher Paula played an important role in our lives.  She became the mother figure for us since we were both out of the nest for the first time and far from  home.  Likewise we filled a void for her as her children were moving away to college.  It was such a fun faculty.  Weekly faculty meetings at a nearby restaurant.  Parties.  Late nights and weekends at school.  23 Mardi Gras parades.  Yes, lasting friendships were built.  Ones we still look back fondly on.

People always ask what we think things would be like if we'd gone back.  That's impossible to say though.  The experiences we had while in New Orleans have helped to shape the people we are.  The teachers we are.  Living there, going through Hurricane Katrina, deciding not to return, and everything since have led to this point.  I love my life right now and I could not imagine it any other way.  My wife, my kids, my job, my family, my friends.  None would be the same had we decided to return.  Therefore I don't think about what if.  

Now, that's in no way meant to diminish how hard it was to decide not to return.  It was, in fact, one of the hardest decisions we've ever had to make.  We loved it there.  Our apartment, our job, our friends, our life, the city.  Amy and I discussed it so much, over and over.  It actually ended up being quite an easy decision to make given the fact that He had decided to bless us with Braeden.  Finding out Amy was pregnant really left us no choice.  We had jobs but had no care for him.  Moving back to those uncertain futures was not really how we wanted to begin parenthood.  Going back to the environment with its questionable health risks was also not something we wanted to expose Amy to.  So, the hard decision really wasn't that hard after all.  Just very emotional.

Watching the devastation play out before our eyes while being so far away was very hard.  Seeing everything we'd come to know and love literally get washed away tore us apart.  Going back eventually to see the damage for ourselves was an experience we will never forget.  Those images are burned into our memories, just as vivid as all of the positive ones.

So now, here we are.  Ten years later.  The city has rebounded.  We've watched it from afar.  They've grown and changed.  They've adapted.  It is different, that's obvious.  It will never be exactly the same as it was before.  In some ways that is sad.  People moved, people died, lives changed, memories and places lost forever.  In other ways though change is good.  They're stronger.  They're proud.  Amy and I talk about returning all the time.  We've been back only once, before Braeden was even a year old.  We returned for Mardi Gras and it was wonderful.  It has just never worked out to return since.  Every year we think, "Maybe this year", but it's not.  Timing just doesn't work out.  But who knows, maybe this year is the year.  The desire is there and the kids are old enough to travel and visit and understand as we lead them around the city we once called home.  The city we love still and where part of us will always remain.  And who knows?  Maybe one day we will move back.  Retire there?  Maybe, maybe not.  We've talked about it.  We will just have to see what He has in store for us.

I could go on and on, but I don't want to ramble.  Maybe I'm too late for that already.  I'm sure you'll forgive me though.  Right?  Thanks.  So, today and every August 29 I say a special prayer for New Orleans.  For the city as a whole.  Residents past and present.  Friends.  I thank God for it all; the memories, the life we had, the relationships, the experiences, the lessons we learned.  I pray for continued strength and resilience.  For blessings to abound for this great city.  10 years.  Wow.

All is well, a decade later, in Drosche Land. 

            

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