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Cindy Snowden. One name. How many names will it be by the time we've finished counting?

Cynthia Marie Snowden is the first Katrina victim I've heard of whom I also met. Well, the first victim among those who lost their lives, that is. We talked, rode in a car together, saw a movie, laughed, and gained at least some small understanding of and appreciation for each other during the brief time we spent in each other's company last year.

I met Cindy when I was in New Orleans for a weekend to work on the Noreascon 4 Souvenir Book with Guy and Rosy Lillian. I'd previously read about her in the pages of Guy's fanzine, Challenger, but that movie outing was our only meeting. In his email yesterday, Guy described her as his "one-time neighbor, and loyal and constant friend." Yes, she was that. That, and more. I'm honored to have met her, to have witnessed the friendship first-hand. And I'm angry that she's gone.

The day after the hurricane, Guy reported, "My mentally challenged former neighbor Cindy was and is safe in the three-story brick building where she lives, apparently got no water inside, and is in no immediate danger." I believe that's the last he knew about her until yesterday, when someone with the FEMA coroner's unit contacted Cindy's sister and a positive ID was made.

All of which leaves me in an emotional swirl. I don't know the facts behind Cindy's death. What I do know from personal experience is that she was an at-risk person in our society, and that she was also adept at dealing with her own limitations and the world around her.

My belief? As with the majority of people affected by Katrina, the hurricane itself didn't do her in, but the aftermath did. And the aftermath was a human-made disaster, not a natural one.

Yes, that's the same thing I've believed all along about what happened in New Orleans. Adding the memory of Cindy's face and voice to it doesn't change my own bottom-line sense of reality. It just adds another, more direct layer to my grief.

Naming conventions are powerful. Maybe I need to come up with a different label than "Katrina" for the losses and tragedies that came from the human and societal failings that followed in the wake of the storm.

It's funny, as in weird-funny, how one of my common grief reactions is to focus on names, on how I identify people and things, including my own self-identification. It happened when my brother died, too. It's probably related to the need to make sense of a painfully changed world by putting words to it, by trying to understand the event by understanding the words I use in association with it.

Rest in Peace, Cindy. The world was better for your being here; may those who remain help make it better still as a result of what we learn from the tragedy of your death.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
nellorat
Oct. 2nd, 2005 04:17 am (UTC)
Oh, shit. I thought I didn't know her, until you said more about her. supergee and I had dinner with her and Guy when we had a Golden Apa gathering in New Orleans, years ago. (No one in The Golden Apa lived in NO, but it was such a great place that we chose it as the only GoldenCon site without an indigenous apa member.) She was a good person. Shit.
gerisullivan
Oct. 2nd, 2005 04:22 am (UTC)
Sympathy.

That, and shit, too. It sucks. It thoroughly sucks.
kip_w
Oct. 2nd, 2005 04:27 am (UTC)
Oh, man.

Years ago, my friend Tom and I gave a ride to a girl who was hitching up the canyon and dropped her off in a little settlement there called Big Thompson Village. Maybe half a year later, on the eve of Colorado's Centennial in 1976, a devastating flood swept down the Big Thompson Canyon, killing over 100 people. I always wondered about her, but didn't even know her name.

I'm sorry for your loss. Our loss. Everybody's loss. It would be nice if we'd actually learn something one of these times.
smofbabe
Oct. 2nd, 2005 05:04 am (UTC)
I'm *really* sorry to read this. I've been in SFPA with Guy for years and he has talked quite a bit about Cindy so even though I never met her I feel like I knew her. This really sucks. I know that things like this personalize the tragedy - before we heard from Peggy Ranson, wondering about whether one of the bodies left in the city was hers made my reaction to the stories coming out of the area much more visceral. Hang in there.
avt_tor
Oct. 2nd, 2005 05:09 am (UTC)
I'm sorry for your loss.


And the aftermath was a human-made disaster, not a natural one.



I think you're right. And I hope people will take that as a call to action.
kijjohnson
Oct. 2nd, 2005 07:39 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry. I would hope that her loss (and the losses of so many others) will bring us to ensure such a thing can never happen again, here os anywhere in the world.
nwl
Oct. 2nd, 2005 10:11 pm (UTC)
More on Cindy
I believe that's the last he knew about her until yesterday, when someone with the FEMA coroner's unit contacted Cindy's sister and a positive ID was made.

Actually, no. Guy knew she had died a while ago, as he was contacted by one of her neighbors shortly after it happened. She had diabetes and went into a diabetic coma while standing near the elevator. She was dead when a neighbor found her and called people in her address book.

What Guy didn't know was when her body would be identified and readied for burial. I got that info about Cindy's death from Naomi about three weeks ago and she had heard it from Guy.
gerisullivan
Oct. 3rd, 2005 04:23 am (UTC)
Re: More on Cindy
Thanks for the clarification and additional information.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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