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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.


Oct. 3rd, 2005 04:23 am (UTC)
Re: More on Cindy
Thanks for the clarification and additional information.


Geri 2014
Geri Sullivan

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