Everyone is asking. Everyone wants to know.
How did Katrina change you?
I didn't lose my house. I didn't lose anything I owned, really. A tree in my front yard. A few shingles maybe. And a couple of fence boards.
I know people who did, though. Lose everything. And I do mean everything. Homes. Possessions. Jobs. Friends. Relatives.
My in-laws were left with a plastic grocery bag of possessions and two empty lots in Waveland, Mississippi. We lost my father-in-law four years later.
But wherever we happened to live on the vast area known as the Gulf Coast, we all lost something that day in August of 2005. We lost our security. We lost our peace of mind.
It's five years later and I live my life -- or at least four months of it a year -- ready to go.
I pay for a big SUV, not because I have a bunch of kids to ferry around or because I'm not concerned about our ecology, but because I know I can fill it with stuff when I have to.
And I will.
I know what's important. I know where it is. I know what I will take. And I know my husband won't even laugh at me.
Sure, I know to take the important papers. Insurance. Medicines. My dogs.
But I also know that I must take my daughter's baby book, her school memory books, her scrapbooks, the box of memories from the day her adoption became final, her original birth certificate with her original name.
The two books I've written just for her.
My wedding album.
My baby book -- the one I had to re-make after a puppy named Laycee chewed up the first one.
The one album filled with photos of me, my sister and our late brother as children.
I know how important those things are because my husband has none. Not one baby photo of him survived the storm and only two of the three boys as children.
I have spent months scanning photos into my computer and uploading them onto safe places in the web so they won't be lost.
Katrina did that for us. Taught us that some things just can't be replaced. Ever.
Like our innocence. Our security. Our peace of mind.
Or the people we will never see again.