National

The Last Time I Saw My Mother

Water engulfs homes just east of downtown New Orleans, the day after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. (AP Photo)
Water engulfs homes just east of downtown New Orleans, the day after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. (AP Photo)

(The Washington Post) – If it had not been for a disagreement with my mother on that Friday night in August, perhaps my body would be resting in a coffin beside hers at Mount Olivet Cemetery in New Orleans.

It was the night that Hurricane Katrina was swirling through the Gulf of Mexico. I was a 13-year-old in middle school, and I was looking forward to attending the party of a girl I had been crushing on for a long time. But my excitement was interrupted when my mother told me that we were going to the Superdome to ride out the storm.

My friends and I assumed that Katrina would be no different from other storms that had come and gone with little damage to the city. I resisted her plan, arguing that I really wanted to go to the party on Saturday and that I should be allowed to stay in the city. I wore her down, and she agreed that I could stay with my father if he allowed it. But when I called him, he didn’t answer his phone.

I kept pushing, asking to stay with my auntie, and ultimately my mother agreed. When Aunt Louise came to pick me up, my mom and I said our goodbyes. I can’t remember whether we hugged before we separated because this happened long ago. I’d like to think that we did.

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