I published an article in the On Parenting section of the The Washington Post today. The article, Letting my daughter see Puerto Rico’s crisis gives her access to a part of myself, herself, explores how Hurricane Maria and family ties from those on the island with those on the mainland, intersect.
On the day that hurricane Maria whipped toward Puerto Rico, my husband took our daughters outside to wait for the school bus. It was a breezy and pleasant autumn morning, and my 5-year-old pulled up her hoodie and turned her rosy cheeks toward the wind, sweetly asking, “Daddy, is this the hurricane that is going to take Mima away?”
Mima is what I call my grandmother, her great grandmother. I winced and assured her that no, that would not happen, and went back inside. I sat in front of the television all day, nervously tossing the remote control between my hands, watching images of swirling dark red and orange bands over the island of my birth.
I managed to get a single phone call in to Mima as the storm began to hit, and heard only panic in her voice as she screamed, the winds already too loud for her to hear me. My elderly grandmother said her goodbyes, “just in case.” Having lost her signal, I began texting my godmother, living in another city, as the eye approached her home. She answered with messages saying, “This is too strong, it will take the whole house,” and “I think the doors may go, pray for us!” before she, too, fell silent. My phone quiet, a heaviness settled in.