Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

And So We Rebuild

Our feet leave imprints in the sand, and the air smells of salt and potential. I think about breathing, how I need to get in better shape, and about how good the sun feels on my chest.

In this moment, life is smiling with the makings of a perfect day. We set up a beach umbrella, chairs, and flip our flip-flops from our feet.

We walk to the water, and it is healing, vast, and I am grounded and present.

By the time we walk the path again, to get sandwiches and fruit for lunch, the sand has been rebuilt. Our footprints have been replaced by tiny sand-waves. We see new footprints, probably left by a bird. They, too, will disappear within moments.

The sand rebuilds itself.


When I was in my early 20’s, I house-sat at my boyfriend’s father’s home. It was a difficult year in the way that all years are difficult at 22 or 24 years old. I didn’t know what I wanted from life, and often felt paralyzed by decision.

As if choosing one thing would mean I’d never be anything else.

As if I weren’t capable of rebuilding myself.

On a fresh afternoon, with the air smelling like salt and around-the-corner dreams, I walked to the ocean, flipped my flip-flops off, and waded into the surf. The riptide was strong, but so was I. I knew how to bend and fold over and beneath the waves until I asked the ocean and God to help me rebuild myself.

“Give me a sign,” I said. I felt lost, and the possibility of rebuilding myself felt foreign.

A wave came, turned me over and over until I was disoriented, and then right again, catching a breath just in time for another wave to do the same. And another. Another. Over and over. 

I don’t know how many there were, or how long it lasted, but remember the fear, and my fight.

“I didn’t mean I’m ready to die!” I thought. My knees and shoulders were bleeding. My cheek had been rubbed raw by the sand. My bravery was broken. 

I wouldn’t be thankful for the sign until I’d broken free, returned to my towel and my flip-flops, and could breathe again.

What did it mean?

To this day, I’m not sure. Perhaps the message was simply that I am not in control, as much as I strive to be.

Perhaps it was to remind me that sometimes, on a sun and salt-filled day, people take a final breath and are no more than photographs, memories, or a butterfly who has broken from a cocoon.

Perhaps, I was meant to rebuild myself.


Sometimes, I walk toward the ocean and find a piece of sea glass. I pick it up, and marvel at its beauty.

The dark part of me thinks about the bodies the ocean has done the same to. Smoothed the ragged edges of our lives until they are beautiful.

The even darker part of me says “The ocean has eaten all of the human parts of us until they’re dissolved completely.”

How many bodies does the ocean hold?

What about the bodies that the ocean doesn’t claim, but calls them to her home?


Natural disaster comes as rain and tornados. Flooding. Surges. It takes randomly and without apology. It washes us clean while destroying us. Natural disaster rips walls from our homes, and leaves people-shaped holes in our lives.

It floods us and kills us, and then is calm, inviting us to put an umbrella on a beach, once again.

Because we rebuild.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “When it comes to natural disasters…” thought up by the fabulous April of April Noelle. Please visit her. She’s amazing and knows much more about natural disaster than I do.

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  • JT Walters - When it comes to natural disasters, I am humbled by your friendship as we try to text each other through H. IRMA. What lasts through natural disasters is the compassion we have shown each other; clarity who our real friends are and valuing them even more.

    Thank you for keeping a watchful eye on me through H. IRMA and during the long recovery process.

    You are a hero Kristi and my good friend.

    JT WaltersSeptember 14, 2017 – 10:51 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw girl, I’m no hero by far but am so so glad you’re okay!!! What an ordeal you all have had (again!). September 15, 2017 – 9:07 pmReplyCancel

      • JT Walters - And humble too!September 15, 2017 – 9:10 pmReplyCancel

        • Kristi Campbell - HAHA. But really, I’m so not a hero. You’re a hero for sticking in there and helping neighbors rebuild their homes and their confidence in humanity. September 15, 2017 – 9:13 pmReplyCancel

  • Linda Atwell - We do rebuild. Sometimes easier than others. Obviously, property can be rebuilt–with time, but loss of life, well, sadly, sometimes those left behind never rebuild.

    I used to be a catastrophe adjuster for a major insurance company. All these disasters bring back memories. Most of the claims I handled were covered, until Katrina. I didn’t actually handle Katrina claims, but I handled Rita, the storm that came in right after. The sad part about Katrina, as well as Harvey and Irma is that much of the damage was done from flood and flood is not covered under any homeowner policy (that I’m aware of). As I watch the news, see the losses, my heart breaks. Maybe these people who lost so much will be able to rebuild with low interests loans. Others may have lost so much that they just cannot afford to start over. (If there was wind damage, that would be covered under the HO policy). The losses we are seeing on the national news is so devastating to me. I so many ways, I’m glad I’m retired. It would almost be unbearable to tell family after family that they have no coverage and will have to apply for funds through FEMA. Well, that’s enough of that sad information. Especially since your piece ended on such a positive note. I hate being a Debbie downer tonight. Have a great weekend.September 15, 2017 – 12:38 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I remember your blog post about the accident when you were in insurance. The imagery sticks with me and I find myself thinking about you sitting on the roof every now and again out of nowhere. And that’s just from reading your post… Living through all of that loss, and telling people they wouldn’t be covered. ROUGH. Also I didn’t know that flooding isn’t covered. That seems wrong. It’s okay to be Debbie Downer on any night. I actually deleted a bunch of this post because I ended up getting really sad in it and then realized I wasn’t adding anything worthwhile by doing so. But it is awful. All of it. xoxo September 15, 2017 – 9:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Twindaddy - I don’t remember how old I was, maybe 7 or 8. We were at Sunset Beach, just a few miles from Myrtle Beach. I was swimming in the ocean one day and nearly got sucked away by the undercurrent. I remember swimming with all I had towards the shore and not moving an inch forward. I was close to the pier, though, and was able to maneuver myself sideways towards it. I was able to grab on to one of the posts and hold on until the current found a different path. I immediately left the water, wrapped myself in a towel, and wondered how close to death I had actually come. I was young and resilient, though, as are most kids that young. I was back out in the water in no time. I’ve never really pondered if it was a sign or what it meant.September 15, 2017 – 6:14 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Wow. Isn’t it amazing how much this stuff comes up, unexpectedly? Sometimes, I wonder if there’s a message there. Maybe, it’s just that we’re all more mortal than we know, but maybe, why us, also, you know? I mean WHY US? Why did you get to swim to the pier, why did I eventually take enough breaths… why does my son’s friend die at the age of seven? I so hope there is more to all of us. How close are we, all the time, you know? September 15, 2017 – 11:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - I think I still have PTSD from Hurricane Sandy…our neighbors across the street had a giant oak tree fall and sheer off the entire front part of their house. It was terrifying to see and they were in their house at the time (but thankfully all ok). The morning after as we all stood out in front of their house crying, I hugged each of them and said, “you’re all ok, That’s what matters.” As luck would have it, a house was for rent right down the street. They moved in a week or so later and rebuilt the front part of their house. A year later they were able to have a sense of humor about it and sent out holiday cards with a pic of their wrecked house on the back that said, “thanks for the memories, Sandy.” It cracked me up, but anyway, my point in telling you this is that yes, they did rebuild and recover and move on…September 15, 2017 – 2:27 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Emily, I’m SURE you still do have PTSD from HS. For real. OMG to your neighbors and all of it. I started to add the time we had a dorocho (something like that) here, and had no power for days. We went to McDonald’s to charge our phones, and all of us slept in the basement because it was a little cooler. I don’t know why I din’t write about that. September 15, 2017 – 11:15 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - No matter what the disaster, what the scenario in life, we rebuild because that’s what we do. Humans are resilient creatures and there is strength and beauty in that. We go on…perhaps stronger than before.September 15, 2017 – 4:14 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - We do go on…but there’s also the underlying thing of “HOW?” when it’s somebody else keeping on, when I’m positive I would not be…September 15, 2017 – 11:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerry - Wow. Kristi, what a powerfully raw post you’ve written here. I am terrified of riptides but your story doesn’t sound all that fun either. Probably because I am not a strong swimmer. Anyway, thanks for sharing that. I love the ocean for what it can teach us with its might and force, but when the power of all that comes onto land and destroys homes and lives, it is truly a humbling thing to hear about. Love how you tied these two ideas together from the sentence starter.September 15, 2017 – 8:22 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you Kerry. I appreciate your perspective so much. I’m terrified of riptides in a new way than I used to be, because of my son. I deleted a lot of this post and now think that was a mistake, and thank you for that. Love to you my friend. September 15, 2017 – 11:18 pmReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - **Rebuilding**
    Such layers of metaphor and beauty.
    As always, I’m just in love w/ you. xxxSeptember 20, 2017 – 6:48 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw I’m just in love with you, too. You’re amazing. And thank you. xxxSeptember 20, 2017 – 11:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Roshni - Today, I was listening to news commentary about Puerto Rico and how electricity will not come back for another 4-6 months! The interviewer was incredulous but the person who was being interviewed was calm and talked about relying on generators, but more importantly, relying on others. How strong a community they must have as a result of these natural disasters! It just speaks of their resilience!September 22, 2017 – 6:16 pmReplyCancel

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