For the first time in more than a week, I did a normal grocery shopping at Shop-Rite. I did it with gusto, taking my time in the Produce Aisle, savoring the Deli, relishing browsing in the Dairy section, and taking delight in the Frozen Foods area. The whole thing sounds stupid, but this experience was in stark contrast to what I’m now calling the B.S. Period, as in “Before Sandy.”
The Sunday before she hit, I’d gone through our Emergency Kit, weeding out expired cans and discarding a box of powdered milk that was well past its prime. I scoured the shelves of Shop-Rite looking for foods that could sustain us through at least three days without power (who knew the outage would last for a new record of 6!). My cart was filled with boxed Parmalat milk, cans of tuna and chicken, pasta, oatmeal, and bottles of water. I piled on boxes of tea, the drink that kept my family warm during last year’s snowstorm. I added a few jars of foodstuffs that would add flavor to pasta, such as jarred red peppers, flavored mushrooms, a small packet of capers. Back then, and through the following week, I’d hit the store only for fresh meat which could be cooked that night, ice for our cooler, or cheese that would be eaten that day.
Before Sandy I’d frozen several half-gallons of milk that would thaw and give my children the calcium and protein they so badly need. I’d frozen cartons of egg whites that would, again, thaw and allow us to cook hot, fragrant scrambled eggs. But shopping before the hurricane, in its aftermath, and even before this week’s Winter Storm Athena had been a stressful time. Everyone in the grocery store had been on edge, like me, in Survival Mode. It had not been fun.
Yesterday I finally felt confident enough that our power wouldn’t go out to buy a normal week’s worth of groceries. I was relaxed and happy. Yet even as I shopped, I was filled with sadness for those who were hit much harder by the hurricane, those who wouldn’t be living their normal lives for quite a while. There are so, so many. And they’re not that far away. In my cart went some of those “survival” items to donate to those less fortunate. It’s my pleasure, my duty to help.
As I got to the check-out counter, I FINALLY breathed a sigh of relief. For my family, Sandy is over. The danger is gone, but the experience has permanently changed me. Much as 9/11 made me appreciate so much that I'd never thought about before, Hurricane Sandy has done the same thing. And I don’t think I’ll take the normal things that fill my life, like electricity and buying refrigerated goods and fresh produce, for granted ever again.