FIT@50 / Week 92: Ugly’s Last Stand:
August 23, 2005 ushered in one of the most devastating natural disasters in American history. I was there. Right, square in what was forecasted to be the epicenter of it.
It was by the grace of God that our jurisdiction was spared the horrific levels of damage suffered by our neighboring parishes. With over 1,830 deaths attributed to the storm it was simply catastrophic and unforgettable.
Although our parish was hit, we stabilized necessities within days. Other parishes and cities were not that fortunate. I led our 20-man SWAT unit into the New Orleans metro area to assist other law enforcement agencies.
As a result of meandering around in an environmental toxic sludge, all of our tactical gear had to be discarded. As part of the process, I received a pair of boots to replace the personal pair that were destroyed.
I never really wore them after that because they served as a reminder of the cesspool created by Katrina.
This week, Leah and I escaped to Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado for a winter vacation. A beautiful, isolated facility covered in snow, I packed appropriately. Except I had no all-weather boots.
I dug them out from storage and off they went into a stuffed suitcase.That first morning I struggled lacing them up, and tucking the insulated pants around the boots.
All that day they were uncomfortable and I really regretted bringing them as opposed to having tossed them out years ago. We returned to the cabin that evening and as I peeled off layers upon layers of cold, wet clothing, the boots got kicked across the room. I was overcome with a feeling of the loss suffered in 2005.
They looked different tumbling across the heated tile floor. The entire sole had fallen from the left boot. I dropped it atop the other one lying there beneath chair.
I immediately thought about how horrible Hurricane Katrina was and the memory of dealing with such widespread death and destruction. I was glad the boot had fallen apart after 11 years.
I also thought it was appropriately symbolic that those boots would have their final wear in one of the most beautiful and alive places I’ve ever visited.
Then I realized, they had probably just dry-rotted. Either way, the ugly was gone.