Participants are asked to write about a particularly cherished object, and why it's so special.
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“Anything that just costs money is cheap.”
- John Steinbeck
“No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell.
There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side ... or you don't.
- Stephen King
Survivor Duck rests on an honored spot on my mantle.
Once I was all alone in a deserted Louisiana coastal city smack in the path of a category 5 hurricane
(that's winds over 155 miles per hours)
My supervisor, a few brave co-workers, and I labored all morning to get rare blood to neighboring hospitals. The winds were frightening.
In all my efforts, I noticed a rubber duck floating by the back door.
(The water even then was ankle-deep)
The call went out to evacuate the city. I had been wolfing down a lunch sandwich at home.
I went down to my car in the apartment parking lot to find all the gas had been siphoned out of my gas tank.
And the gas pumps were all closed, the power out.
Freddie, my friend and supervisor, called at that moment asking about me, saying he had a feeling to check in on me.
And together, he and I went to Baton Rouge to work long, long weeks delivering rare blood
from that bloated city to far-ranging hospitals, even to the outskirts of New Orleans.
I had lost all I owned in a house fire years before, and now, there I was living in a motel filled with hollow-eyed survivors,
delivering blood past frightened young men in uniforms clutching guns with fear-filled eyes.
I had saved my cat and the clothes on my back. That was it.
To know nothing of how your city is faring while delivering blood to cities ravaged by hurricanes is sobering.
I did not know from night to night if I would have a place to stay or if my city still stood.
I came back to my city to find it like a set from a post-apocalyptic movie.
Trees, houses, stores, landmarks -- so many gone or terribly damaged.
My apartment complex had been trashed. I had little left. How could I go on?
I limped back to the rear of the blood center to help salvage what little could be saved.
And there was Survivor Duck wedged up against the back door where last I had seen him.
It was as if the Father said: "If this little rubber duck can survive this madness, so can you."
So when things get dark, I look up on the mantle of my new apartment and smile.
Me, Survivor Duck, and The Father will see things through somehow.