Fifty Days After Harvey

IMG_6192–I am changed. My neighborhood is changed. My life is changed. Our routine, our memories, our space is forever altered. I don’t doubt that some day we’ll have a new reality, but please, let’s not use the word “normal”. As anyone whose house has flooded will tell you, there is nothing normal about our lives. And the phrase “being back to normal” is one that makes us cringe. Here is a list of others we highly despise:

At least you are safe.

Thank God you didn’t have to be rescued by boat, or that would have been traumatizing!

You have your health, and that’s the most important thing.

Material things can be replaced, it’s your safety that matters most.

You’ll replace your stuff!

We were lucky! We didn’t flood!

I could go on. But you get the picture? I hope. And I know you mean well. So, here are suggestions for what to say to us:

What stage are you at?

I can imagine how hard it must be.

I’m sorry that happened to you.

How long do you expect it will take to rebuild? ( we don’t really know, and it will likely be a long time, but this questions shows concern and curiosity).

Anyhow, this is the first week I can actually sit down at a computer and write. What a thrill to buy a new computer. Though it’s refurbished, and not the huge screen Mac I had before, I’m truly grateful to be sitting here, typing. This feels a little normal, I must say. I’ve missed normal. And I’ve missed writing. I sit in a rental house. My kids asleep, my husband watching TV. I must admit, it really does feel pretty damn normal. Wow. It’s taken fifty days for me to feel a semblance of normality. And just a minute ago, I was asking to please not use the word normal. Ha.

So where do I start to narrate this novel called “Losing Everything”, or “What the Flood Took from Us”, or “Lessons after the Flood”, or “Angels after the Storm”. Not sure what to call this period of my life. As devastating as it’s been, there has also been such light and love. Mysterious joys have been injected along with the shock and tears of losing our belongings.

I knew every smell, every texture, every sound in our house. The front door cracking in the middle of the hot summer months, the washer’s particular thump, our daughter’s closet door moving when the air came on.

We had to kick our door down to come into the house after the storm, since the wood had swelled so much that we couldn’t open it. The washer, upside down from the five feet of water that made it float. The smell in my daughter’s closet turned my stomach as I saw her dolls and ballet shoes covered in gunk.

When we first saw the house back in 2009, we hesitated a bit because it was in bad shape. Weeds everywhere outside. Unkept and lacking major TLC, we weren’t sure we could transform it into our home. The couple that had lived there before, had gotten divorced and hadn’t cared much for it in three years. But my husband and I saw something in it. I loved the light, and the back yard sat right by the bayou. With a hill I imagined our kids climbing. So we bought it. Weeds out, LOVE in! We were pregnant with our second child. Our boy, F, who was born on our bathroom floor. My husband and I delivered him, unexpectedly, by ourselves. And our third child would be born in our bedroom, under the loving supervision of our midwife. We turned our home from a place of love-broken, to one of love-born.

Who would have thought that Saturday, August 26th, would be the last day we would be in our home? Knowing that now, I wish I would have taken just a minute longer to say good bye. To the house that saw me become a mother of three. That celebrated 21 years of marriage in the backyard, that heard the joys, saw the tears, heard the celebrations, the sharing, the telling of so many stories.

I told the kids to put all their toys on top of their beds. To make sure NOTHING was left on the floor or it would get wet! Naively, I put bowls underneath our tables and sofas. I’d heard that in case we flooded, the bowls would preserve the furniture. Little did I know that instead of 5 inches, we would get 5 feet of water inside our home! We took a backpack of clothes with a few changes for each of us, and left to my sister’s house, thinking we would come back Sunday for more things. That day never came. We didn’t even take our passports/birth certificates/important papers nor valuable items.

By Sunday night, with the dam releasing water slowly, and our house being so close to it, we flooded uncontrollably. The water would sit and soak our things during 14 days. (Picture above shows our house marked by a red arrow.) Will continue to write our story little by little. Thanks to all of you for the messages, the support, and the love!!



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