September 1st, 2021

Prague Bridge

A glimpse of unexpected heartbreak

The disaster of Hurricane Ida in Louisiana and other southern states reminds me of an unexpected heartbreak I witnessed in 2018.

I was traveling, and on September 10, I was in Michigan eating breakfast at a Best Western motel. I was up very early, and everyone else in the breakfast room was obviously a tradesman: construction workers and truck drivers. These were strong, tough men used to going from job to job and working with their hands.

Television screens on the walls played the CNN morning news, and at one point the news ran a segment on Hurricane Florence. The mammoth storm was about to hit the Carolinas coast and cause catastrophic damage.

The room became silent and every man watched somberly. On their next job, these men, or their friends and coworkers, might be called on to haul supplies and to repair and rebuild the storm damage. They looked grim, not joyful, at the prospect of plentiful work. 

Their jobs would bring them face to face with loss and grief, and the future could be hard on their hearts as well as their hands. They’d seen it before, and they were going to see again.