One weekend in the beginning of September 2017, hurricane Irma ripped thru Florida. I haven’t known many people who’ve lived in the path of a hurricane before let alone one so powerful. By now, I’d only known Bob for a couple weeks but I found myself worried about his safety. All of the meteorologists were predicting Irma to be a catastrophic storm when it hit Florida as a category 5 hurricane. A great many Floridians evacuated northward but some had nowhere to go to and no way to get there. Bob was one of those who stayed behind.
The day that the governor declared a state of emergency for Florida, I tried to coerce Bob again to seek a safer location. He replied,
Bob: Hun, I’m going to stay where I am now. I’ve been shot and blown up. So let it blow I guess.
Me: Smh(shake my head), you must be one of those tough as hell kind of guys. LOL!
Bob: Not really, I’ve just seen it and been there. Please don’t worry, I wanted to let you know before you seen it.
How could I not worry? Even tho I just met this man, he and I had some pretty deep, personal chats. Besides, he’d only told me a snippet of his story. I was interested in learning more from someone who was actually there.
Friday morning, as this monstrous storm was still on track to slam into Florida, I woke up to the following message.
Bob: Saturday morning will be last day on, I don’t do this ever but here’s a Kiss for you. You are such amazing young Lady. Steph if this doesn’t go well keep writing and someday you can tell my Story. Good bye Hun
Me: Do I take it you don’t expect to make it thru the storm?
Bob: Right now it’s not looking good hun!
Me: How will I tell your story if you leave? I will definitely keep writing tho.
Bob: Just write what I told you and never stop for your a amazing. Your writing has brought new life to me
Me: I am grateful for the gifts you’ve given me. Your mother’s name, the confidence to keep writing and the inspiration to continue writing my book
Bob: Your very welcome, never stop for your helping so many People. A’ho my Sweet Lady Bye Hun
Me: …No goodbyes. Until we meet again.
Bob: I’ll never leave you, I’ll protect and look over you. Your very special to me and to be really truthful, being blunt again, I really don’t know what I do without you…Your very amazing to me…
Me: …For the very brief time that I’ve known you you’ve been amazing also. I don’t know what I would’ve done if you hadn’t given me the gifts that you’ve given me. Take care and I’ll talk to you later.
He was trying to say goodbye to me but I wasn’t having it. Knowing the real possibility of him not making it thru, I chose to attempt to give him hope that he could make it. Besides, “Goodbyes” are permanent. “See you later” means much more.
My eyes were glued to the news the rest of the the evening trying to calculate Irma’s path. I found myself sending up more smoke and prayers for a man I had only just met thru social media less than a month before.
Saturday morning. We chatted for a few moments as Irma was bearing down on the Florida Keys. Still a category 5 hurricane, Irma had basically leveled the Virgin Islands, Cuba and other places in the Caribbean.
I stayed up half the night watching Irma tear up Florida’s Keys and then going up her western coastline. By the time she got to the area where Bob lives, Irma had been downgraded to a category 3 hurricane. Still powerful enough to cause a lot of damage but not like the devastation that was seen in the Keys. I eventually fell asleep around 3am.
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Come back tomorrow to see if Bob made it thru hurricane Irma and about another Vietnam War veteran that was living in Irma’s path.