Facing Challenges, Uncategorized

Flooding 2019

You know that feeling when you like your new life, but the reminders of your other life are crashing in on you from a couple of directions, and it’s kind of taken you by surprise and gotten you a little off track?  And then there’s something going on from that other past life that makes you kind of miss it even though you know it was all for the best, and you are mad at yourself for being ???  So you are feeling WAY too many feelings at once to be comfortable, and it’s just kind of making you even more loopy than you usually are?

No??  Just me?? If you even sort of understood that first paragraph then let me first say, “I’m sorry!” 😂😂😂 My thoughts often don’t make much sense to me, so I pity the person who has a brain that’s messed up enough to follow!

I haven’t posted in a long time due mainly to my being disgusted with non-existant internet service in my home.  I have still been writing but got tired of having to post only when somewhere with good cell service or WIFI.   However, as of a couple of weeks ago, I HAVE HOME INTERNET SERVICE THAT ACTUALLY WORKS!  It’s hard to believe how important that is to life these days.

So, I need to talk about the absolutely heartbreaking flooding that is going on along the Arkansas river right now.  About two weeks ago when all of this started in my state, a friend from one of the hardest hit cities (where we used to live) asked me if I was okay.  Any PTSD type stuff, she asked.  “No,” I answered.  “I’m fine.  Just worried about all of y’all.”

And I was and am “FINE”.  My house isn’t flooding.  In fact, I have a lovely little nest in which I am quite comfortable.  I’ve been working on my yard now that the house is finished, and I’m loving every minute of that.  The only problem there is stopping.  I could plant flowers and make rock gardens and paths in my yard for days.

BUT, this flooding is seeping into my psyche I guess.  My initial reaction of “fine” is beginning to take on water.  And it’s not just that.  It’s the sheer scope and timing of this flooding.  From my old hometown to just a few miles from my current one—it’s impacting SO many.  I’ve learned that when you go through something, you are more empathetic to those who go through something similar.  Because you just KNOW…..

I’ve also discovered that all that stuff about being strong is not true.  Or at least it isn’t for me.  For all of those who tell me how I strong I was, I want to explain that I’m NOT.  I had it EASY. Plus I’m not so strong these days! Falling apart seems to be my strong suit. People who have it difficult are the STRONG ones!

Yes, I was a caregiver for a very long time to a husband with cancer.  BUT, although he could be difficult occasionally, he adored me, and engaged my mind, and made me laugh.  Despite the hard parts, we had great times! It had some very difficult moments, but it was EASY compared to situations of others I know. The strong are those who take care of loved ones who don’t even recognize them or are abusive because of dementia or other mental issues.  The strong are the parents and other lifelong caregivers to children who have severe disabilities who uncomplainingly serve for years and years or who lose a child.

Yes, I had to leave a job I loved and move to Houston in a week’s time.  But that was EASY because we had good disability and health insurance, and could hire movers to help.  The strong are those who have to continue working full time jobs while being full time caregivers.  The strong are those who have to navigate our ridiculous health care maze alone or without insurance or while trying to work full time. It was easier for me because I had the time to spend hours on the phone arguing and advocating for my husband’s care.

Yes, I lived through a hurricane that flooded my home with 3 feet of water which is why all this has me a little freaked out. I had to escape with my husband and pets in the middle of the night when the rain that wouldn’t stop kept swirling over Houston.  BUT, I had wonderful neighbors.  We (mainly them) had a plan, and they helped us.  We spent 36 hours in a tiny apartment with 8 people, but the memories of those hours are actually fond ones that I would never trade. We played games, got to know one another better, and B got to have real conversations with people who weren’t associated with MD Anderson.  Our neighbor was actually a business professor at the University of Houston, so they talked and talked about business college stuff. That was the last time he got to hang out with “real” people, and the last photo I have of my husband was from those 2 days in that cramped, humid garage apartment.

Then once we could get out of our neighborhood, I had a wonderful friend who gave us a dry and safe place to stay in her lovely home that was for sale until we could find something else. She had wonderful friends who brought us things we needed like air mattresses and a cat litter box. I could go back to my old house to clean and salvage knowing B was safe in a dry, mold free environment. I could return exhausted in the evenings to my husband, dog, and cat and have a cold glass of wine and a hot shower in a home with AC then crash on a pretty comfortable air mattress! That made it much easier for me than so many others.

Yes, I had to figure out how to clean up and salvage what I could after the waters receded by myself because my husband had to stay away from that nasty water, but that wasn’t me being strong.  I had strangers and friends of friends show up in droves and GIVE of themselves like you’ve never seen.  Sweating and cleaning, and moving and doing all sorts of nasty work  that I didn’t even know needed doing, all to help a stranger salvage what she could.

All of this was NOT me being strong.  Money was there to rent a storage room where I could put things that were salvaged.  Strangers boxed the things that weren’t ruined and took to storage for me. A stranger (now a friend) sat all day in a laundromat washing the sodden stinky clothing and linens of a lady she had just met. A stranger brought a hair dryer to painstakingly dry some of my pictures. Money was there to pay for a rented furnished apartment where B could be comfortable and safe.  Thanks to the forethought of my neighbors, we had a vehicle that was dry, so that I could haul things and still take B to the hospital as needed. That made things so much easier. The strong ones are those who have to keep going when they are hit with tragedy and don’t have these kinds of resources and have nowhere to turn. They figure it out—somehow.

There are people right now in the midst of this mess living in campers and tents and shelters with no resources and no extra money.  There are farmers whose entire farms are under water, and business owners with water sweeping away their livelihood. 

I have two personal friends whose homes are under water, and I know of many, many more.  Talking with them hurts. It’s so hard to watch others suffer and not be able to make it better. I would like to help, and I will do what I can, but there isn’t a lot to do until that awful water goes away. 

I haven’t noticed it yet here at my house, but yesterday while driving with the top down on an unflooded road near the levee, the distinct odor hit me hard.  I had to turn around, and Max got an abbreviated afternoon ride.  As much as I adore the water, “the flood” scent is different from any other water smell, and it makes me want to run away!

It’s all just “stuff” and lives are what matter, but when you are in the midst of trying to live without all that “stuff”, it’s hard. The sheer physical part of flood prep and cleanup is the most strenuous hard work I’ve done in my life. Add in the stress and emotions, and at times it can feel impossible. When I’ve talked to my friends, they’ve described that helpless feeling and inability to think straight that I remember so well.

If you are dealing with the flooding directly in any way, my heart goes out to you. We are ALL dealing with it indirectly, and I hope that it will bring out the best in us. I saw a huge city come together in Houston; I know that the state of Arkansas is up to the challenge. It’s not going to be easy, but speaking from experience, the ease comes from someone having your back.

This is extremely rambling, but the moral to my story is just this–people are suffering; please help.  If you can’t do anything else, just be kind. It matters much more than you know!