Friday, October 22, 2010

Disaster Protocol

Disaster. By definition a disaster is "a state of extreme (usually irremediable) ruin and misfortune." To understand this, one must understand the word irremediable. ir-re-me-di-a-ble means "impossible to remedy, correct or repair." This brings us back to our original subject, disaster.
A disaster is not just a bad situation. It is not your average, everyday situation, yet disaster can be found all around us. Disaster comes in many forms. Disaster has many faces and is prejudice to no one. To find disaster one need only step outside, turn on the news or read the paper. Disaster is a phenomenon so common and so powerful that there are entire organizations devoted to it. The job of any relief organization is to intervene when disaster occurs. There are protocols to follow. First comes the assessment of the situation. That in itself is a large job. Any one person can asses a situation but who decides if that assessment is correct? Who decides just how minor or severe a situation is? Generally there is more than one individual involved in a situation, so uniting the assessments of each individual into one grand assessment is and amazing accomplishment. The second step in a disaster protocol is to issue a proclamation. One must bring to light the situation. One must tell the world what has happened. Often proclamation can become a messy job. It is not merely the responsibility of delivering bad news to the world but also the burden of absorbing the shock of individuals involved. It's staring into the face of the situation and having the courage to find a voice and make others aware of what has happened. Next comes the job of recovery, picking up the pieces and trying to place them where they belong. This is a tiring, sometimes hopeless process. Although recovery can be made and people and places touched by disaster can be mended, they are never the same.
This global disaster protocol can be applied to many situations. It can apply to natural disaster, financial disaster and even emotional disaster. To call something a disaster is not a simple ordinary statement. Often we use the phrase "this is a disaster!" when referring to something as minor as a windstorm that has disrupted the order of a yard (natural). Sometimes it is as simple as bouncing a check (financial) or as unpleasant as ending a relationship (emotional). In truth, none of the above are truly worthy of being described as a disaster. Yards can be cleaned, bounced check fees can erase monetary mistakes and new relationships can be made.
To qualify as a disaster the situation must far surpass any of these examples. We have experienced a disaster. My little corner of the world that once safely housed the emotional stability of my family and my heart has been touched by "a state of extreme ruin and misfortune." Without even being aware of the proper protocol we have begun to follow the necessary procedures. An assessment was made, a diagnosis confirmed and was deemed "impossible to remedy, correct or repair." This assessment was made by very qualified individuals. I wonder if Dr. B paused a moment during Matt's surgery when the damage was discovered. I wonder if only for a moment she thought about what this meant for my young husband, for our young family and for the wife and children who love and need him so much. I believe that somewhere in her assessment, somewhere amidst the jumble of Matt's mind and the surgical instruments she paused for a moment and thought of him, of me, of us. I believe this because it is what any good person would do and I believe her to be a good and kind person. Next came her duty to proclaim our disaster. I wonder how she felt about delivering the news. She knew I was waiting. If it was nearly as hard for her to tell me as it was for me to tell Matt then my heart aches for her.
Next comes the recovery process. We have not commenced recovery just yet. For my family we are stuck somewhere between assessment and proclamation. Each day brings new challenges and with it the need to re-asses the damage. Each day there is a need to proclaim what is happening to us, of only to one another. Recovery is something that I believe will come to us over time and only through the tender mercies of our Savior. I personally am struggling somewhere between all of these steps. I am still assessing the damage to my husband, my children and myself. Each day when my assessment of the current situation is made I struggle to proclaim what is happening and what we need. It is a large burden to bare but an even larger one to unload upon others. I see the sorrow what I feel reflected on others faces. I see my own shock staring back at me in their tear filled eyes. I know that I am not alone when I see this but I also know I have pulled them into our own personal disaster and it doesn't seem fair. If only there were a rapid response team ready each day for us. Perhaps there is. It does not come in ordinary form. It may not always come in the form of volunteers ready to clean and mend. It comes in the form of celestial comfort. This celestial comfort can be found in the darkest and smallest places, ready to clean and mend doubt and fear. It comes in the form of my child's prayer as he asks the Lord to "help Daddy to get better." I know that recovery will come to our family. We will be cleansed and mended but we will never be the same. I wish I could "proclaim" that all is well and that I am not frightened. I wish I could "proclaim" that my husband will be okay but I do not have this luxury. I can "proclaim" my love for the Savior and his sacrifice that we might all be mended in time. I can "proclaim" my thanks to the Lord for bringing comfort in the form of friends and new days where we can start fresh and my ability to make memories so that when my husband can't he can rely on me. I am grateful. I do believe and although I am frightened and sad and even angry at times I am never alone and that is what will one day bring us the recovery we need.

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