Katrina, Katrina, Katrina.
This female's name will forever be etched into North American history.
Whether remembering how she ravished Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama; how her strength and influence caused levees in New Orleans to give way; or even how she put a mirror to this country's face and forced us to take a look at who we really are -the good, the bad and the ugly -she will never be forgotten.
Hurricane Katrina's fury even penetrated, however slightly, the joyful bubble of what was the happiest day of my girlfriend Christina's life: Her wedding day.
Upon arriving at the bridal dress rehearsal in downtown Chicago earlier this month, something immediately stood out to us as my other girlfriends and I greeted the rest of the wedding party. One of the bridesmaids, Candace, who normally would offer us a boisterous welcome, did not.
She sat quietly in a corner, giving us a weak smile and barely making eye contact.
Now, this was unusual for the barely 5-foot girl. What's up with her, we wondered?
Then it hit us. Katrina.
Candace had moved to The Big Easy with her new beau. They had a dog, he is a doctor, or something like that, and she is a law school graduate studying for the Louisiana Bar exam. If all went well, these two could be one of many real-life Cliff and Clair Huxtables. But now, the couple is dealing with the reality of how to pick up where Katrina left off.
One occasion that showcased the reality of Katrina's destruction was Christina's wedding.
Although Candace was supposed to be a bridesmaid, her dress was left at her home which, she believes, had succumbed to murky waters as the Gulf Coast crashed through the city's levees. Therefore, she did not participate in the wedding.
And before going out of town the weekend the storm hit, Candace placed her dog in a kennel. However, she does not know her pet's fate. She said she contacted the kennel and was told that the pets were left behind. She had listened on the news and read the papers and heard the areas that flooded, and knew there was a slim chance for her dog's survival.
But it wasn't her own personal loss that had Candace shook. While she is very fortunate to have been out of town for another engagement, it didn't stop her from feeling the hurt that millions of other Americans felt. Candace was worried about the people of New Orleans.
And she is not alone.
Over the past weeks since the storm arrived, many people have stepped up to the plate, transforming their energy from worry into action as they assisted Katrina evacuees from those three states heavily afflicted. Whether it was the giving of their time, their homes, their money or words of encouragement, many, many people allowed gratitude to flow from their hearts.
I encourage everyone to continue to offer assistance where they can. And for those who have not, it isn't too late. It doesn't matter if it's a pair of shoes, or a pair of hundred dollar bills, give. The reward is very gratifying. Besides, you never know when you may be the one in need.
Aisha I. Jefferson covers police and courts for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .