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Storm Journals The Importance Of Connections

This is the final installment of the journals. Thank you to our journal keepers for sharing their thoughts and words with us. Rebecca Nappi, interactive editor

By Kathleen Corkery Spencer Special to The Spokesman-Review

My sister calls and asks what she can bring for dinner. She doesn’t live in Spokane so I wonder, slightly annoyed, what brings her here this week for a surprise meal. Then I remember Thanksgiving.

As a child I loved this holiday because, unlike Christmas or Easter, we got the meal without the sermon. As an adult it has been an easy holiday for me to forget. It’s not that I’m not thankful. It’s that between football, Butterball and Indians that survive only as salt and pepper shakers, I can’t find an image to celebrate. Today I have one.

As I bow my head and review my blessings, I think of threads, lines and connections. Pictures of the past week play in my mind.

Trees split under the weight of ice and fall, breaking the lines that attach to the houses that connect to the world. Severed threads.

Tempers break and fall on spouses, children and innocent bystanders. Another broken line.

Family and friends pull together. Shelters are born; lives are saved. Threads hold.

Crews of people work for hours with the patience and grace of the very best in human nature. They remove the trees; they restore the light. We are reconnected to each other, to the world. Connections, thousands of them, are restored.

And yet, their hold is often tenuous. It has taken less than one week of cold and darkness to show how quickly those threads can break. We are held together by a million interdependent connections, the least of which are fat cables running across the sky. Phones, faxes and CNN can be destroyed by a couple hundred soggy trees.

What we’ve just lived through, the loss of connection, is what many people feel every day. And it isn’t the loss of cable or the lack of a fax. It’s the missed connection of the human heart. The more a person feels separated, the easier it is for that person to turn from or against others. It starts early and grows. If enough threads break, the person breaks too. And when that happens, we all lose.

This Thanksgiving I am aware of the fierce and fragile connections we have to each other. Kindness has to depend on something more than electricity. We carry the light within us. I will bless it in others. I will cultivate it in myself. I will tell my sister, my wonderful sister, to bring the pie.

Spencer, 42, is a Spokane free-lance writer.

Many are worthy on this day of thanks By Marilyn Hart Special to The Spokesman-Review

I contemplate the meaning of Thanksgiving Day. We are all pilgrims who share planet Earth. Our lives touch in one way or another.

Mandy and I are thankful for:

Church. The Unitarian church is our spiritual home. Bethel A.M.E. provides a literal roof over our heads. The Lord alone is our everlasting power. Friends. Dorene, Maryann, Bill, Carlos, Janine, Craig and Denise generously share of themselves and bless us continuously in word and deed.

Teachers. Donnabeth, Lisa, Nathan, Amy and Casey bring the world to us since we can’t see it from the apartment complex. Holy Names Music Center and the YMCA provide scholarships for Mandy. Angels. Linda, Gary, James, Bridget, Melody, Rick and Kathie sheltered us from the storm with kindness and gifts.

The Celtic Nots. One of my dad’s dying regrets was that he hadn’t done more singing. Mandy and I sing along with this group’s exhilarating music.

The stray cats. They show Mandy and I what real suffering looks like. It gives us joy to share our food with them. My 9-year-old daughter Mandy leads me laughing and dancing through it all. She gives thanks, too. Here are her words:

When the power went out, it wasn’t noisy at all. It was cold because we couldn’t turn on the heat. But I felt lucky. Some people don’t have a house at all. When the power came on, my mom was so happy. She went outside screaming. I was happy too.

Hart, 43, is a Spokane single mom.

Long talks through the cold nights By Gleyn Bledsoe Special to The Spokesman-Review

By the time you read this, I will be enjoying Thanksgiving Day with my family. We are gathering at my uncle’s cabin on Hood Canal.

The week seems like a blur to me now, but I know when my head clears, I’ll remember things more clearly. Things like the one night at the Libby Center shelter. I was walking the building when I spotted a woman who had been staying in the shelter with her husband and three kids. She had suffered a miscarriage while at the shelter, and her husband was out of work. It was a rough time. We sat down together and talked. She needed someone to listen and I was there to lend an ear. I’ll remember her for a long time and I hope she’s all right.

People ask me why I spent a week volunteering for the Red Cross. It’s like that old question, “Why climb a mountain?” The answer: “Because it’s there.” I guess I’m a professional volunteer.

I’m thankful today that all the people we had in the shelters will be able to go home. Thankful that it wasn’t worse. Thankful I had a great crew to work with, especially Walt and Linda.

I’m thankful I’ll get to see my wife and kids again. I miss them. It’s been a long week.

Gleyn Bledsoe, 32, is a Red Cross volunteer.

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