I don’t remember much about Katrina’s landfall in 2005, except that the images on the television were horrifying.
In the aftermath, I remember all four of my godchildren reporting new students from New Orleans in their classes. I remember making donations, cash and goods, to various fundraising efforts.
And I remember going to the Houston Astrodome with a friend whose company was encouraging all its employees to spend a day volunteering to assist refugees. There was a steady trickle of people going to the check-in point — nothing, nothing at all like the sea of people on cots inside.
I don’t remember what I did that day (I think I was at a table handing out water bottles). What I remember, with crystal clarity, is a woman: tall, thin, short hair. She was standing to my left, at the end of a row of cots, while three small children played nearby. The look on her face — and she didn’t seem to be looking at anything or anyone — was not despair or anger or defeat. It was deep, profound exhaustion. She was tired. She looked like she was trying to hold herself together, arms crossed tightly across her chest, the hands resting on opposite shoulders.
That is what I remember.