Riding through the city, my heart sinks a little deeper in my chest whenever I am reminded of Hurricane Ida—the endless sea of blue tarps on rooftops, enormous piles of trash and debris in medians that have yet to be removed, leaning power lines, and fallen trees. All signs that our beloved city is just like us, wounded and tired. Resilience and recovery are words that we know too well. But what happens to a wound that never has time to heal? Since Ida our wound has festered and continues to endure crushing blow after blow. Navigating the daily microlevel doings that life requires has been compounded by larger issues—rising gas prices, baby formula shortages, the undoing of reproductive rights, and incessant mass shootings. The difficulties we face today are public health issues just as much as they are human rights issues. They are inextricably bound. In times of war and desperation the old adage “every man for himself” seems appropriate. Self-preservation is the first law of nature. But we are wounded—economically, physically, emotionally—and there is no one method or practice that can quickly and collectively remedy us. Healing can not occur in isolation. Self-reliance is not our panacea.
I almost had a nervous breakdown five years ago after losing my mother to cancer. Initially, she was ashamed to tell me the tumor had returned. By the time she did, the diagnosis was fatal. Since I was her power of attorney, I had no space to absorb the shock of it all. I had to move quickly. After receiving the news I booked a next-day flight to DC to visit her and discuss hospice care with my family and the hospital staff. On the way to the airport I received a call informing me she died. The next 12 months of my life were a living hell.
I financially supported and cared for my brother with special needs, sold my mother’s home in Maryland two weeks before it went into foreclosure, and handled my family affairs from 2,000 miles away while maintaining a full-time job here in New Orleans, all while processing an unimaginable amount of grief. I gained 30 pounds. I cried all of the time. I suffered from heavy irregular periods, incessant insomnia, and unexplainable body aches. I was overcome with RAGING emotions and a short temper that sometimes boiled and spilled over onto those closest to me. My therapist Lauren saw me frequently. During one of our sessions, I literally screamed “God help me!” and sobbed in her arms for the entire hour. She held me silently and let me get it out.
Without my father, Uncle Isaiah, Aunt Rosa, my dear cousin Allease (who secured social services for my brother), my best friend Alona (who was my ride for all of my last-minute trips to the airport), my best friend Melvin (who always answered my phone calls when I needed a comforting word of reassurance), my realtor Simone (who helped me sell my mom’s home and find safe supportive housing for my brother), my family lawyer Nakia, and countless hours of tearful phone calls with my friends, I would not have been able to survive the most difficult experience of my life. Because of my community I made it through to the other side. During one of my therapy sessions I said, “Lauren, since my mom died I feel like I’m alone in a boat drowning in the ocean. I have no clear direction and the storms of life are tossing me to and fro.” Lauren gave me a simple response that I will share with you. “You are not alone. We will get through this—together.”
In the pages of ANTIGRAVITY, we hope to provide a voice and sense of community that’s often lost in a sea of negativity when it comes to mainstream media. We’ve been able to stand in our 18th year as a free community magazine because of our most valuable asset—you, our readers and supporters. We will continue to share local resources, stories, and tips as loving reminders that as lonely and heavy as this world can feel, you are not experiencing the weight of it all alone. We can and will get through this—together.
Cover illustration by Eden Chubb