I’m definitely taken care of — not just by my employers but by the people of New Orleans.
You ever felt abandoned? I have. It’s a story told a lot down here. The one about the big old hurricane that came up the gulf and nearly took us out. Yeah, that one. Now, you might be thinking that this letter is gonna be a story you’ve read a thousand times.
And I’m here to tell you: It’s not.
The lasting image of my experience all those years ago, is standing on a helipad in an empty city surrounded by water.
And that’s what I felt: Abandoned.
We New Orleanians (born and raised baby!) are known for community. There ain’t nowhere like this place. (Just ask us). But boy, I’ll tell ya, it took me years to build back the trust of my city, my profession, and my people after hanging out on the helipad in the sweltering heat. I got the bandana, all salty and sweaty, framed in my bedroom, still. Scrawled, “survivor” on it.
So it’s been 15 years, and COVID-19 brings me back to a place I never wanted to go. And I had that feeling only for a moment. Could it happen again? Will I get left behind again? “Oh, wow, maybe it could get bad. Maybe it could get worse.”
I got scared and I hesitated. I thought, “Oh my gosh, is this gonna get as bad as that was? Am I going to end up where I was before? Abandoned?”
But the exact opposite happened.
I was born and raised in New Orleans. I love the city with my heart and soul. And y’all, they turned up for us. Whereas for COVID-19, there's been an enormous amount of support from the city. I’m definitely taken care of — not just by my employers but by the people of New Orleans. People have come from everywhere displaying so much love. Gifts from strangers who don't know who we are — messages on the concrete, flowers and handwritten cards from kids. There’s this group called Feed the Frontline. And they send us meals from amazing local restaurants every day. I hear they raised a lot of money and are paying the restaurants too. Talk about community.
I came to work once, and there was a little bowl of Life Savers (the candy) and one had a little message on it that said “You're not alone.” I immediately knew that that Life Saver was for me.
So I kept it.
The Best Lifesaver I’ll Never EatMelissa Howard