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Hurricane Maria Destroyed My Childhood Memories

As Hurricane Maria continued its path through Puerto Rico, it destroyed along the way two significant places of my childhood.

My aunt's backyard was destroyed after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico. (September 27, 2017)

Hurricane Maria left terrible destruction in its path through Puerto Rico - massive deforestation throughout the island, many destroyed houses everywhere you looked, no power or cell phone service, among other things—making it completely impossible to communicate with family members in order to know how they were. It was one of the most terrifying experiences I have ever lived not knowing anything about the people I love the most right after a monstrous natural disaster such as how Hurricane Maria was in Puerto Rico.

A week after the hurricane my parents and I were able to go and wonder out of our home to go see our family. Upon arriving at my aunt's home, I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing—the very house I grew up in, and played in, throughout my childhood with my cousins was no longer how it used to be. The photograph from above shows my aunt as we carefully wondered around what was left of her backyard. That enormous place where my cousins and I used to let our imaginations run wild was left to never be as magical as it was before. The big and tall mango tree that once stood there and was, on occasions, a doorway to a new world in my childhood imagination was no longer standing. Almost all plantain trees, which my aunt would sometimes cook our supper from, laid down flat in the grown. Bits and pieces of my aunt's roof were scattered throughout the yard, and destruction was perceived everywhere you looked—I described it as if a bomb had gone off.

My aunt's house after Hurricane Maria.

In my aunt's house, my smallest cousin and I had "founded" a club many years ago—a room filled with lots of toys where we would spend hours a day playing pretend. As the years went by, and even though we had grown up and never played in that room anymore, my aunt had left the room just as the last time we ever played in it. The small but enchanted little room of the house was left with no roof and flooded with all the heavy rain, ruining every little memory I had there. The hardest part of it all wasn't stumbling upon the room and how it was left, but getting rid of everything that was damaged during the hurricane was the toughest thing to do. As I placed things in garbage bags, I stared at every single thing I picked up for a while and tried to reconnect it with a memory as I looked back into my childhood. All the dolls I played house with, and the almost every stuffed animal my cousin and I would use to play pretend vet was gone. I couldn't help but feel as if I was getting rid of a meaningful part of my life by slowly turning my memories into trash as I continued to throw things out.

The day Hurricane Maria left Puerto Rico, deciding it had caused enough heartache and destruction, it took with it a significant piece of my childhood to never give it back. The sadness and disbelief of those days after the hurricane in which I was left with no choice but to say goodbye to a big part of my childhood still haunt me to this day—a year after it all happened. The memories of playing in that fertile backyard where all kinds of plants grew, and where my imagination was allowed to run wild, are still very lucid in my mind—they will forever stay in my heart, as well. The room I once proudly called my clubhouse, and the toys that in that very room were, are now left to live in my memory for the rest of my life. 

Read next: Grief
Yanelis Otero
Yanelis Otero

Aspiring writer and storyteller! Writing is one of my two favorite forms of communication - you can say I'm passionate about it!


Find me as @YanelisOtero on Twitter

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Hurricane Maria Destroyed My Childhood Memories
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