After evacuating her family from Hurricane Irma, body-positivity advocate Allison Kimmey hoped their Eastern Florida townhouse would be spared from the storm. Unfortunately, Irma’s strong winds ripped off the roof of their home and left the inside completely unrecognizable.
But this isn’t a story about destruction. This is a story about finding hope in the most surprising of places.
This morning, Kimmey shared what her two young children have taught her about life after tragedy in an emotional Instagram post. Her 6-year-old son Graham and 5-year-old daughter Cambelle have spent the past three weeks traveling over 3,000 miles with their mom. They’ve stayed in seven different homes, often needing to sleep on a couch or even the floor. They’ve managed to adjust to living out of suitcases.
While her husband was working hard to assess the damage near their home, Kimmey stayed with her kids and did her best to keep them from learning about their townhouse’s heartbreaking fate. Kimmey knew she needed to put up a strong front for her children. But what the mom soon discovered was that she could find all the resilience she was seeking in her own children’s example.
Kimmey was inspired to publicly acknowledge her children’s strength because she’s been blown away by their unwavering positivity despite the chaos that’s unfolded around them in the last few weeks. They have both endured intense changes and have been pulled away from their childhood home, yet Kimmey says Graham and Cambelle have a lightness about them that has shifted their mother’s entire perspective.
“They have been confined to extremely small spaces together over these last three weeks, and still find ways to make each other giggle,” she tells Babble. “They haven’t asked about one single toy or complained once about having to move around. They have leaned into me for extra support, and we are tighter as a family than we ever have been before. They have taught me that we are home when we are together.”
It is with this loving mindset that Kimmey says she’s been able to carry on, despite not knowing where her family will land next. Their current spot is at a hotel near the children’s schools, with a commute that happens to go by their townhouse. The drive has inspired some difficult conversations, to say the least.
“This Monday, they noticed all of the furniture and pieces of the house in the huge dumpsters in front of the houses,” she says. “They both became very concerned about their room and their toys, but I assured them that the toys were removed and put into a storage unit, which we drove by so they could understand better.”
No matter how many explanations Kimmey gives her children, the reality of their current situation is quite challenging, just as it has been for so many victims of the recent hurricanes. As a result, the blogger says she’s felt a unique kind of grief that has expanded her empathy for others impacted by storms like this, as well. Kimmey has also been extremely moved by the kindness of friends, loved ones, and the countless GoFundMe donors who are all helping her family get their life back on track.
“The truth is, this is hard. On everyone involved,” Kimmey admits. “But there is something that is so interesting, in the most miraculous way, and that is how a community can come together and lift each other up … And we have felt those things every day.”
Kimmey urges others who’ve been affected by Irma to allow themselves to grieve whenever it feels necessary. By permitting ourselves — and our children — to lovingly know each other’s feelings, we can move beyond them and begin to heal. And this can allow us the space to ask for the support we need in the most devastating of times.
“You will not be strong every day. And that is okay,” she says. “No one is expecting you to. Lean on each other. Lean on your community. Lean on strangers. We are all here for you.”