When I had the idea of what I would write for this month’s blog post, I had recently come out of the hurricane Irma experience. Let’s just say there were two weeks during the month of September that were very stressful. Between the build-up of the approaching storm and the high panic level, and then the actual storm and the power outages afterward, I couldn’t really tell you where the time went.
But since the massive event, other catastrophes have taken place. Another hurricane devastated Puerto Rico. And then, the shooting in Las Vegas. With a little time and space, what we went through in Florida has given us a breather and time to see that some people had it far worse than us.
So I had to rethink my topic. Then I remembered a friend once asking me why I write romance. My answer then, and still today, is that I believe love is the greatest gift of all. I especially love writing for Heartwarming, because we get to place characters in situations that seem impossible to rise above, yet they do, with a lot of character growth, inner retrospection and lots and lots of love. Just like real life. And for those going through hard times, reading a romance novel can be a much needed escape.
Before and after the storm, I experienced the giving spirit that truly shines in people. Yes, there are terrible, awful people in the world. But I came away from the Irma experience with renewed hope in mankind. Here’s why.
1. People are awesome.
Even before the storm when the stores were crowded, people were talkative and friendly, despite the fear. I’ve never had as many positive conversations in the grocery store as I did that week. “We’ll get through this.” “We’re in this together.”
2. People are kind-hearted.
After the storm, we saw neighbors helping others cut down trees and clean up damage. While we were much calmer in the aftermath, the conversations in the stores still continued. “How did you do?” “Everyone okay?” “Do you need any help?”
Watching clips from the shooting in Las Vegas, I saw people rise above the fear to help others. The sense of unity in an emergency is universal. If we love people, we can’t help but get involved to make sure others get through the worst of times.
3. People are helpful.
In my city, people were helping others clean up and then attending to folks who still didn’t have power. While there are always stories of thefts and scams after a major weather event like this, I saw the vast majority of people looking out for others, those they knew, those they didn’t, who now became good friends.
4. People are generous.
Once the storm passed, there were plenty of people who still needed bottled water. I had bought extra, so we gave the cases away to those who had to boil water or still didn’t have power. Many others gave food and even monetary donations to help those who had been impacted by the storm, first here, then in Puerto Rico. The giving spirit showed no bounds.
I read this story a few days after the storm. As a reader and writer, this touched my heart.
A teacher at a local middle school came back to her classroom once the school had cleaned up after being used as an evacuation center. She teaches reading to kids who have difficulty or little interest in books. The white bookshelf in her room, filled with books the students loved, many of them signed by the authors, were gone. Completely gone. To say she was upset and disappointed is an understatement, but she told her students, “I guess the people who took the books needed them more than we did.”
Once word got out, YA authors offered to send copies of their books. The local library made donations. People sent the teacher money or gift cards to rebuild her library. As much as it initially seemed a tragedy, the teacher will likely double or triple the volume of books than before the storm.
Did I mention people are awesome?
The stories go on and on. If you watch the news, you’ve probably heard some of them. My hope is that this wonderful side of human nature carries on long after Irma, or the other traumatic events, are a memory. Memories none of us should ever forget. We need to care about this world we live in, and the best way to do that is through love, whether in real life or in a book.
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Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of fifteen novels. Family values, a bit of mystery and, of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Look for her next Harlequin Heartwarming romance, HIS ONE AND ONLY BRIDE, available January 2018 and her next Christmas Town novella in the holiday collection, HEARTWARMING HOLIDAY WISHES, available October 10, 2017. Visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books