Don’t panic.

Remember what matters most.

Don’t give up hope. …

These are lessons from the storm. … They hang in the still, calm air after the blustering winds finally have subsided and the raging waters have silenced into harmless ripples, receding to normalcy amid the aftermath that lingers like the stale stench of mold. Once the thunder and rain have ceased and the sun again pierces like a diamond the darkened skies.


Once the storm has staked its claim, exacted its toll. Carved its path of destruction. Left frozen in time its short-lived presence, even if it leaves us not without scars to bear. Losses. Memories.

Pain. Fear. And also lessons:

Stay put until it’s safe to move about. … Keep calm, though not everyone will survive. There will come time to mourn, honor and bury those lost in the storm …

What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger. You are stronger than you may know.

Keep your wits about you. Someone else, even if you’re unaware, is watching, depending on you to survive. You are their lighthouse. You cannot afford to fail. Be brave. Stand. It’s not just about you.

Learn to laugh, even in the direst circumstance. Search for the silver lining in the dark clouds, even when the storm is unrelenting and raging. Remember: No storm lasts forever.

The storms of life have also taught me that sometimes you must lean. That you can’t make it through some storms alone. That no two storms are exactly the same. That there is a difference between a midsummer’s violent rain and a hurricane: One shakes the house, the other the foundation of your faith.

Like the storms that claimed my mother — the storms of Alzheimer’s and cancer. The storm of cancer that returned two years later to also claim my dad. I still mourn.

Those inevitable and devastating storms of irreparable harm and heartache wreak upon the human heart and soul pain beyond comprehension. Those kinds of storms leave you naked — without the cloak of false gods or props, like money, class or status. All of these are impotent against the most devastating of life’s storms — natural or metaphorical.

Katrina, Sandy, Harvey. … Sickness, death, sudden loss. Consumptive they are. Unable to be completely planned for. Catastrophic, unimaginable, beyond human control.

That much was clear this week as the deluge submersed Houston and other Texas cities. As clear as the devastation and the angst on the faces of rescuers and those rescued, which the nation witnessed by continuous news coverage of live video and wrenching photographs:

A bare-chested little boy sitting on his father’s lap inside a shelter; a family being airlifted by a Navy helicopter; rescuers pulling a man from a car caught in a raging river; people awaiting rescue on rooftops. …

Endless accounts of bravery and heroism by ordinary people moved by compassion for their fellow man. A sea of humanity locked arm in arm with one purpose: to help each other survive.

No divisiveness. Not Republican or Democrat. Not peasant or aristocrat. The reflection of one nation united against a storm that threatened all.

The storm called Harvey reminded me that storms are no respecter of persons. That none of us are impervious. That storms eventually arise for us all. And that we have a better chance of surviving the worst of them if we face them together.

It reminded me that inasmuch as some storms are devastating, even the most destructive can leave us better for having come through them, for simply having survived. These are lessons from the storm…

No man is an island.

The storm will pass.

We will survive.

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