So it seems.  With the profound understanding that the storm that rages inside is far more dangerous than the storm outside could ever be and if she is to survive she needs to climb back up to where she began her journey to survive.

It began with a Hurricane heading towards Ft. Lauderdale. Locked inside PH11 for months shattered by betrayal I listen to the mandatory emergency evacuation instructions blaring over the intercom in my condo high above the beach ” A warning has been issued for the barrier Islands, mandatory evacuation … at noon all elevators will be non operative”

I go out onto my terrace and it’s one of those beautiful Florida mornings, sunshine, clear blue skies white puffy clouds, white caps dancing seemingly dancing on the aqua ocean. Paradise. I am not leaving I say to the recorded voice of the intercom.

As if it heard me it says “those who refuse to evacuate must contact the front desk and leave a next of kin notification”

I laugh and continue watching the evacuation of the beach area,tourist carrying the pillows and blankets (handed out to them by hotels) I wonder where are they going?

 The intercom that is reading my thoughts replies again “Buses to the shelters depart Oakland Park BLVD and A1A on the hour, last bus at noon” I watch TV news camera set up and anchors being filmed under the clear blue sky. I think of the live pictures I’ve seen of anchors being blown away in a storm and here the palm trees are doing their usual swaying in the breeze dance. The voice says “In 1 hour the elevators will be off till further notice” No big deal I think.  Not sure at what point no big deal turned into BIG Deal.

I go out to my terrace to see what’s going on and as I have seen as a resident of Florida for 20 years “if you don’t like the weather wait 5 mins” In the distance were massive black clouds seemingly swirling in circles picking up the ocean in its path and it was heading towards me. I panic I need to leave but I need to take “stuff” with me. So I spend 20 mins. packing stuff… yep I needed to take my name necklace, charm bracelet, grandmothers charm, emerald ring, my stuffed toy Gizmo, favorite pillow, carton of Cigarettes and a photo album –survival gear.

Off I go –elevator off, I descend 18 flights of stairs swearing I need to quit smoking.

On the ground I sit on the bench outside my lobby and I light a cigarette and it dawns on me, where the hell am I going??

The last bus for shelter left a half hour ago. The bridge is closed to traffic coming into the beach so no one can come get me. I walk over to Shooters, closed and boarded up, as a matter of fact everything is boarded up and there isn’t a soul around. I walk out to Ocean crews and the wind is blowing them and me off my feet. I go back to my bench and cry and suddenly I realize if I just sit there and do nothing I won’t survive. I have to climb back.

I walk back into the lobby and see the neatly printed next of kin notification book, I write Notify Barbara Bassett and I begin the climb back up to survive the storm. When I opened the door I felt HOME –ya know that feeling, but for me I hadn’t felt at home in my home since… well for a long long while.

I went to the “this glass door will withstand 100 mile an hour winds” and looked out and saw the ocean and the sky blend into blackness. I was more amazed at this sight than frightened, as a matter of fact I was strangely calm inside. Over the next few hours I watched and heard mother nature’s assault. Yes, it does seemingly rain upside down at this height. Howling, Banging, Clanging. In darkness the only light is the frequent bolts of lightning that literally light up the room and I am on my knees praying “Dear God, please I promise this, I promise that”.

Not sure when the prayers to God turned from I Promise to stop cursing, smoking etc. to I promise to LIVE my life as God intended, in Peace, with JOY and in Faith that I am the one I have been waiting for to rescue me all these months of shattered ME– Broken woman on her knees believing she is of no value, worthless to even herself, living as if she was invisible for invisible women don’t need to eat, shower, dress.  

I went to the mirror and looked at the image that starred back and I heard myself say ” you did this to you, no one did this to you, you did this to you because you stopped believing you were of value”  

I went out onto the terrace and fought the rain to stand up I held the railing and I fought the wind. I yelled to every clash of thunder “I am of value” hardly my most poetic but in the darkness of alone it was my most profound.

The next day the sunrise was as if it was Gods thumb print rising out of the aqua ocean. I whispered my name and I showered, did my hair and makeup, dressed and put on my stilettos and I walked across the street to Shooters I say to this day it was the longest walk of my life, I walked in sat at the bar ordered a vodka club and went out to the back bar to have a cigarette I heard a bunch of people laughing and I walked over and said “HI I am Barbara” and at that very moment I felt the storm inside me magically replaced with the peace that I had survived and I would continue to survive as long as I continued to believe in me because I am of Value.

 Which brings me to the storm that rages once again inside. I am 1,300 miles away from Barbara. I close my eyes and I can see her sitting on her bench in the sun, I can actually feel the warmth, taste the salt air. I hear her crying and my heart aches, “What did I do to you?” She never answers, she just smiles and walks away and I am always left to wonder… Why?

BUT today I watch her walk away as always this time she turns and hands me a book that once in my hands feels familiar and I look down at what its written –Notify Barbara Bassett My answer “I did this to me”.

And so once again it’s not poetic but it is profound for the memory of shattered included my name necklace, emerald ring, grandmothers Charm, charm bracelet, all of which have found a home in a pawn shop, favorite pillow and photo album have found a home in a storage unit, now home in a compassionate friends garage.  

So as this very long storm rages inside, I have the profound awareness that if I continue to sit here I will not survive. I need to climb back up. For I do remember the woman who once believed she was the one she was waiting for and the Peace she found, like magic. When she whispered her name to the sunrise and claimed her value from high above the world.

10 Responses

  1. Anyone who has known Barbara only knows the Barbara who is there for everyone else.

    The Barbara who hauls battered women off the street and gets them to the ER, the one who writes her heart out for every women who has no voice.

    The friend to every women . The one who never complains or cries out for her own needs but works tirelessly to make life bearable for others.

    Barbara was there to ease a friends pain and document the tradgedy of a family who lost their home, A pet put down , homless without food or shelter.

    Barbara prays for others!
    I once heard my name called out in a crowd and turned to see a beautiful woman with a hug she said “BJ – I am Barbara and when I heard you would be here – I had to come and meet you.”

    Imagine that- she wanted to meet me? It was my honor to meet Barbara!

    • WOW BJ
      i am shocked and honored by your words my sister my friend. have been doing some work today and just checked in to see whats up.
      not going to take up too much space LOL as I alwaysdo. besides being one of the most blessed woman on earth I am honored to walk among the most courageous of Gods special creations YOU and all the women who have so touhed my life and enable me to want to climb back up there is much work to do. i will be listtening tonight
      love and blessings

  2. Barbara,

    You are always in my thoughts and prayers, I’m sending you all the strength I can spare.


    • My Dear Sweet Goofs
      everyday brings your prayers answered in some way..back at you my friend XOXO
      thanks for doing such a great job for BJ

  3. FLBARB: BRAVO—-love the article / rant.

    It is so TRUE and so many of us go there,

    Bless you, I always said you were the “light”
    of WOMEN and for PUMA.

    Will be lurking as always.

  4. It’s so strange, Barbara. Who would have ever known.

    When I read about the things that you are doing to help others, particularly women escaping from Domestic Violence, I think of you as a Hillary Clinton kind of woman – who is to me, the quintessential messenger of “you matter”.

    • the message has always been to others…You matter .and it will continue to be that.
      funny you mention Hillary in 2007 i had a conversation with her and i said “i have no idea where to walk next” and she said :’how about you walk with me awhile”?
      and walk i did..we did. amazing when you think of the amount of women who have been brought together in her name. I think it a proud tribute to the woman who was the quintessential messenger of never give up

  5. {{{ Barbara }}} you matter to me …

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