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  • They were on the fourth shelf from the floor. Good thing. Everything on the first and second shelf became a sponge for the storm waters that forced their way through my doors, my windows, up the toilet. Nearly 4 feet of water filled the first floor of my home, soaking the couch, turning the ottoman into a raft that floated down the hallway, consuming the cardboard robot costumes we'd made for Halloween. My oven was toast, my shoes sopping wet, the kids' toys covered in raw sewage. But it was the books on the bookshelf that broke me that first day I saw the destruction Hurricane Sandy had wrought.

    My high school yearbook. My wedding album. Cookbooks I'd used since the first day we were married. College textbooks. Beautiful, heavy art books that our kids would thumb through, a museum within their reach.

    But on the fourth shelf, high above the water line, was where I nonchalantly one day long ago decided to put our photo albums. The kids' first days of life, their first birthdays, their first rides on their bikes and their first steps. Pictures from the days before the kids became the pulse that propels us through the day.

    On the day we threw out those sopping wet books from the bottom shelf I carried upstairs the albums that had survived. Last week, our house rebuilt, I stacked the albums and approached the staircase with the intent of returning them to their previous location. At the third step I turned around. I carried my load back up the stairs. I put these sole remaining connections to my past on a bookshelf in my bedroom.

    In my home, a block from the beach, nothing sacred will ever be kept at sea level again.

    Read more about the Road From Sandy: 365to40
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