Happy I’m Alive

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, is in a small boat photographing Cayuga Lake and thinking of the flooding in Texas and the people who lost everything.I’m in a boat the size of my Prius. On Cayuga Lake in Ithaca, New York. Here, the weather was calm and sunny while Texas got blasted with Hurricane Harvey and epic flooding. The TV images still swamp my mind: boats floating between houses; the elderly couple supported by strangers as they trudged through knee-deep water to reach the rescue boat; tops of cars like small islands in oceans of flooded streets; the dog walking alone carrying a bag of dog-food in his mouth as people evacuated their homes holding whatever precious possessions they could carry.

On CNN I watched as evacuees were interviewed in busy shelters, one after another reporting, “I’m just happy I’m alive.” They’d lost their homes and belongings, beloved pets, neighbors, the feeling of safety, their dreams… their way of life. Some lost loved ones. Some lost everything they had. So much suffering and loss. Yet after all they’d been through they were grateful, “happy to be alive.” Hopeful. There was something more to look forward to, to live for.

The way I see it, loss can scar your life or be its reawakening. You can drown in your troubles and be swallowed up forever in disaster. Or you can allow it to fuel you, make you stronger, make you do something to help yourself and others.

How much hope and energy are you willing to invest in an uncertain future? Nothing is guaranteed. Anything is possible. The future depends on what life throws at you as much as what you choose for yourself. And the road to recovery can be long and rocky.

Six years ago I lost my daughter in a storm called cancer. And here I am floating in a boat, watching the water and surrounding green hills, and finding a million things that make me want to sing. My life is sad and it is beautiful. Many days I am only a breath away from a flood of tears. But I, too, am happy to be alive.


How has the hurricane hit you? What is the storm that stands out in your memory, that changed you?



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5 thoughts on “Happy I’m Alive

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Beautiful, Robin. The day Vic died, I returned home to fields blooming with purple lupines. They were exuberant and radiant. They shouted, “It’s good to be alive,” and I heard them. I knew I couldn’t sink in the morass of depression that followed me, so I kept moving and kept finding beauty and small things to be grateful about. Sending you lots of love.

  2. Gayle Gray

    This essay is so simple, so wise, and so beautiful. Hope I can find my way to this place some day.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Well, like the hurricane, it does change its path here and there, especially when you’re least prepared for it. Most of the time I am happy to be alive. But there’s always that moment, maybe a whole week (as in the past week which you’ll read about in my next blog), when you have to wonder, What the heck was I thinking when I wrote that?

  3. Gail

    Your words bring comfort and inspiration. My sister died on August 10th, and a big spoon stirred up all the grief I have experienced during my life. Strange how that happens.
    After reading your blog, I said to myself, “I am happy to be alive”. Thank-you Robin. Love and hugs.

    PS. We are watching the weather as hurricane Irma is approaching st Maarten

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      OMG it’s Gail. So good to hear from you. I’m so sorry about your sister. Am I remembering right that she was your twin? Losing a sister, twin or not, is unimaginable for me. Oh, I’m wishing you peace and comfort. And now to have your home in St Maarten subjected to Hurricane Irma. Yikes. Too much. Okay, I’m gonna phone my own sister right now to see if she’s heard from you. Hugs and kisses, Gail.


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