Remember how I said that once I started my new job, I’d hope to have more time to regularly post and create online content? HA!
Right as I was falling into my new work routine, Puerto Rico, my husband and I’s home island where we were born, raised, educated, and married, was absolutely devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Our parents are still there and so is our extended family and very close friends. Living in Connecticut at this time has been beneficial and heartbreaking as well. We have been able to send our families care packages, and give them up-to-date information as they’re without cable TV, but we’ve also suffered the heartache of not being able to physically be there to support them. The devastation is beyond words. I cry every day and stay awake every night. We feel impotent, heartbroken, desperate and frustrated.
I hate to make this political, but I have to get this out of my system. Sadly, we feel Puerto Ricans are often treated as second-class citizens because we are a U.S. Territory instead of a state. Forget the fact that we’ve been natural born U.S. citizens since 1917. It’s difficult to not think of these things when the response to Hurricane Maria (Category 5, the eye entered Puerto Rico right through the center) has been historically slow even when comparing to Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and Harvey. My heart goes out to the governors of New York and Florida and the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives in particular who have spoken so heartwarmingly of PR and their support during this crucial time. There are no words.
On a personal note, we have had wonderful emotional support from many friends (thank you Lauren, Rachel and Kiera) and have held on to our friends from PR that live in the mainland for mutual love and support.
It’s easy to go to ALDI, fill up the car and take it to a donations drive. It’s painful to know that our parents, in their 50’s and 60’s are making up to 6 hour lines in the sun to get gasoline to fuel their generators. We recognize that we come from privileged areas in Puerto Rico, and neither of our families suffered major damages to their homes, however, this isn’t the story for the majority of the island, specifically the coastal western and eastern towns. This doesn’t change the fact that the Puerto Rico my husband and I grew up with is no longer there. Our hearts are at home and we hope to visit as soon as our presence isn’t a burden utilizing resources that need to be saved. We rest assured that the people of Puerto Rico are resilient against any and all adversities, have a love for their island that is admirable and are filled with the giving spirit of our taíno ancestors. Puerto Rico will rebuild!
With all of this being said, I urge you to be sensitive and lend a shoulder to cry on to any friend who is from PR or that has family there. It’s been over a week since the hurricane passed and there are still families who haven’t heard from their loved ones. It is a difficult time and often we let our frustration and anger precede us.
To my husband, J, I truly cannot imagine having experienced this without you. You’ve dried my tears, have told me that everything will be okay while also telling me that you’re afraid. I count my lucky stars every day that I married my best friend who holds me up and keeps me going every day.
If you would like to donate to Hurricane Maria Disaster Relief, I recommend Unidos por Puerto Rico – it is an initiative created by The First Lady of Puerto Rico.