Just over a week ago, my beloved hometown of Baton Rouge was practically washed away in one of the worst floods in US history. My 93-year old grandmother and mom were stranded on the interstate for over 30-hours. Some of my dearest friends and their families have lost absolutely everything.

While my friends spent the last week escaping floods and ripping out floors and drywall, I was on the beach with my family. Manning would laugh with delight as the salt water washed away our sand castles. I did my best to stay in the moment with him, but my heart was breaking for the people who witnessed the water washing away their actual homes.

Today, as my family and I sink back into routine life, I can’t help but think of those in Louisiana who would pay anything to find routine and normalcy again. The sadness hit me this morning. Tears fell and my heart started to absorb the hurt and the distance that stands between me and the town I love.

My Facebook stream is flooded (pun intended) with pictures of devastation, but more so, pictures of the best of humanity, of a community rising above a terrible summer and historic devastation. Yes, that is my Baton Rouge. These are MY people. There is no black or white, young or old, rich or poor. It isn’t every man for himself – it is everyone together, rising above.

13923484_10102414851824446_7764747390293223360_oIt is what we, in Louisiana, do best – we rise, we conquer, we celebrate. Because even on the rainiest
days and the darkest nights there is still something to celebrate: life. My mom and grandmother still found friends and a reason to toast, despite being hot and on the side of an Interstate.

We rise. We are unBRoken.

I am carrying that spirit with me today, as I made Marjorie’s first oncology appointment at our new hospital in Savannah. We haven’t set foot in a clinic in two months – and it has been oh so nice. It knocked the wind out of me to say her diagnosis aloud: neuroblastoma. Can I go back to the beach now? Back to the place where worries seem to wash away with our sand castles?

I guess living in paradise would be nice, but it isn’t real. Life is what is real. Life is what sucks sometimes. Life is what is hard. But life is also where you find the love, the joy and the people who make the sorrow all worth it.

We will never know why things happen – and sometimes accepting that piece is the hardest of all. But what we can do is fight our way back – back to life, back to normalcy. We can choose to rebuild.

As much as I don’t want to take Marjorie to another Oncology clinic, I will. Because that is our normalcy. As much as my friends don’t want to tear down the walls of their homes and rebuild, they will – because they will fight to regain their normalcy.

The flood has forever changed all of our lives. Cancer has forever changed mine. But we rebuild, we reschedule and we march on. Because at the end of the day, there is so much we can’t control.

We can all learn something from my bayou kinfolk. We can spend our days asking ‘Why me?’ or we can choose to rebuild, finding faith in humanity, strength in ourselves and of course, always finding a reason to celebrate.

So cheers, y’all! Cheers to life, love and LOUISIANA! Laissez les bon temp rouler!

Forever and always unBRoken





Links on how to help friends and their families:

Sarah Duncan Smith

Mandie Tracy’s Family

Baton Rouge Flood Recovery

Amazon Flood Registry  – run by my dear friend Carolina Grace

Baton Rouge Area Foundation – Louisiana Flood Relief Fund

Amazon Wishlist for Woodlawn Elementary School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Amazon Wishlist for Sherwood Academic Magnet Middle School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Flood Recovery Fund for Schools in Baton Rouge

Junior League of Baton Rouge Diaper Bank

Check my Facebook page for other ways to help!

And please message me to add your family’s link or others way to help <3

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  • Donna Jolly
    August 22, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Well said! If only journalists could say what you did. Just Beautiful!

    Sent from my iPhone


  • Mimi D. Keisling
    August 22, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    Please tell the boys INSIDE the pool, surrounded by water OUTSIDE the pool, that they rock!