For the last few days, I’ve been putting off writing this blog post. I’m at a loss for words to explain how I feel right now about the devastation to the beautiful Florida Keys from Hurricane Irma.
I’ve loved the Keys since my very first visit. The moment we went over that bridge into Key Largo, I felt like I was home. The beach girl came alive. The swaying palm trees, the beautiful clear blue water, the stunning sunrises and sunsets, the relaxed vibe from every person I met. It was like every bit of stress that existed while I was there seemed to melt away. And every trip back since then has been a repeat of the same feelings only now each time I visit, the feeling to stay longer and longer grows. I know I could handle a couple of months there if not more!
When I was encouraged by my doctors a few years ago to write a non-fiction book about living with an invisible illness while being a caregiver to a child with birth defects, I tried to write my personal story but I would end up crying from all the memories that surfaced. But the day I woke up and decided that I would try writing about my experiences over the years by putting them into the form of a fictional love story where the main character had my same illness, the words seemed to flow. I also knew in that moment that my story would have to take place in the Florida Keys because I loved going to the islands so much.
I only intended on writing one book that took place in the Florida Keys. But one book has turned into four now! The last two years I felt I have lived on these different islands: Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Key West. It just depended on where my main character was. And I have loved every minute of it. So much so that even though I told my publisher I wasn’t going to write any more “Keys” books, only a month ago, another story line popped into my head and I began to write book number five.
As I watched Hurricane Irma make her way across the Atlantic, wondering where she would go, I hoped it would curve out to sea like everyone else hoped for. But as she came closer to Florida, my heart sank as I realized that the Keys and Florida might be the recipient of her wrath. Part of me wanted to make another quick trip to the Keys, just to visit again but I knew that wasn’t a smart idea since so many people were evacuating. I wanted to see once more all the little places I had grown to love and that I had written about in my books.
Now as I look at the footage and pictures of the devastation, tears well up in my eyes. I don’t own property there but I feel like I lost something too. It is still my “happy” place and I can’t wait till visitors are allowed back on the islands. In the mean
time, I’ve contacted people I know there, hoping that we will be able to find some way to help the residents of the Keys put their lives back together.
As for writing my fifth book, I stopped for a few days but I’ve made the decision to continue writing it, remembering the Florida Keys the way they were before Irma decided to march through. Mainly because I know these peaceful, beautiful islands are going to come back as strong as ever and the islanders aren’t going to let a hurricane chase them away. So I’m not going to let that hurricane keep me from writing another love story about these dreamy islands.
As information becomes available on different ways we can help all the victims of the Florida Keys, Florida and everyone else affected by Hurricane Irma, I will post it here. For now, let’s keep all the hurricane victims of both Irma and Harvey in our
thoughts and prayers.
Lots of love to all,