By John Darst
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’.” – Fred Rogers
During Hurricane Harvey, we faced some daunting challenges to keep our doors open to community members who lost loved ones in the middle of, (and immediately after), the storm. We had to figure out how we could safely and respectfully remove bodies from a family’s home and get them to our location. We couldn’t bear to just tell these devastated families, “We can’t get to you.” I remember walking in front of our removal van in three feet of water in the pouring rain; I was drenched and exhausted and just couldn’t figure out a route to get our van the 600 feet up the flooded driveway to the family’s home. Tears and rain fell and I just walked and prayed that God would help us help this family. Eventually, we made it, and the rain poured as we worked with the grieving family. As we left with their loved one, we found that we could no longer manage the route we had used on the way in — another test of faith and creativity and then on to the next family. Funnily enough, the song “The Sun Will Come out Tomorrow” played on loop in my head all day. And, I suppose it did.
During the storm, it was so easy to be overwhelmed by the devastation in every direction. Natural disasters have a way of making us feel so small in their wake. And yet, by the time the first rays of sun began to shimmer through the watery clouds, the scene they illuminated was a profound, humbling, absolutely incredible scene of hope. Neighbors rescuing neighbors, feeding neighbors, housing neighbors. Everyone asking, “What can I do?” and bustling around each other finding a need and filling it. Who needs demolition help? Who needs clean socks? Who needs a hot meal? What’s not working? Regroup. New plan. We saw neighbors link arms to pull an elderly man from his SUV. We saw businesses like Hunan Garden, completely flooded themselves but still using their depleted resources to provide hot meals to families and first responders. We showed up at complete strangers’ houses with tools in hand and said, “put me to work”. We took complete strangers into our homes and welcomed them without question. We made an army of love and it bolstered our community with purpose and hope. We proved that we are stronger together and that kindness and hope are alive and well.
But now what? There is so much left to be done. We must all commit to running this as a marathon together and not a sprint. Let’s make it a priority to support businesses who are rebuilding, to stay active with recovery efforts, to check back in often with our friends who lost their homes. The initial demolition was only part one and now we need to help them rebuild. I believe to my core that the tidal wave of kindness that we began can send ripples through our community for years to come. I’m proud to live in this community and to be on this journey with you. Let’s show the world what kindness can do.
John Darst is the owner of Darst Funeral Home. Darst Funeral Home is here for you rain or shine. You can reach us 24/7 in your time of need at 281-312-5656.