Friday, July 4, 2014


My community continues to deal with the ravages of flood.  Close to 200 mm of rain in two days caused the reservoir to overflow, the hospice and the hospital to be evacuated, lots of flooded basements and closed highways in all directions. In that emergency, people have come together to help each other. They volunteer to sand bag, move residents and patients to other locations, and provide food and a helping hand wherever it's needed.

And, since Monday, just after the state of emergency was declared, I have been in the United Kingdom on a holiday.  My house is safe, but my emotions are compromised.  As others grappled with flooded basements, we struggled with a difficult decision.

When we went to sleep Saturday night after attending to the final details for our departure for Britain the next day, the basement was still good.  By Sunday morning, a small patch of carpet, about 10 square feet, was sopping. As I stepped on it, water sprayed out.  Luckily, the rest of the basement was in tact.  No time to do anything because music ministers at church were waiting for me at 8:30 to prepare the 10 am liturgy.  After mass, time to read the travel insurance policy down to the fine print.  In the meantime, my husband moved the cabinet near the spot to a more secure location.

After mass, we began to vacuum the water.  At the same time, we needed to strategize.  We scrapped the plans to head to the airport on Sunday.  With the flight at eleven am Monday morning, we could afford to wait and leave in the wee hours of the morning if the situation was stable.  We vacuumed the water every fifteen minutes all afternoon and evening.

Trip insurance looked iffy,  Our travel agent confirmed our worst fears.  For a full refund for cancellation based on flooding, we would have to have been evacuated from our home.  A soggy piece of carpet wouldn't cut it.  Significant dollars were at stake. So, we vacuumed and packed and vacuumed and vacuumed and tidied up the house.  It stopped raining for a few hours, and then just sprinkled.  Our brother-in-law agreed to vacuum a few times a day while we were away. We would assess the situation in the middle of the night, and make the final decision then.

By 2:30 am, the situation had improved markedly. We vacuumed one last time--no more squishiness at all.  We decided to risk departure.

As we drove, the rain intensified.  Water was flowing over the highway in four spots in a 100 km stretch, three of them manned by steely, soaked highway workers, rain dripping from the hoods and noses.  In one spot, the attendant directed us to the middle of the highway.  Be sure not to veer toward the right, he cautioned. The shoulder is soft, and it's a twenty foot drop over the side.  Yikes. The stream was now a raging, white-capped river.  We learned a few hours later that the highway, along with many others, was closed.  We made it to the airport only because we drove in the middle of the night.

Friends and townspeople at home are still trying to dry out and repair damage. Our home remains stable. Yet we are not there to lend a hand.  Had the flood hit 24 hours earlier, we could have cancelled no questions asked.  Instead, we are in Britain.  It is what it is.

The trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland spread a pall over yet another sudden reversal of fortune.

"Yvette, would you be part of the music for my funeral?" Daphne asks, about two months after her diagnosis with an advanced brain tumor.  I don't want to talk about funerals. I want to push aside the inevitability of the untimely  passing of this vibrant and dynamic woman.

A looming problem tugs at my heart strings, though.  We have several trips planned to faraway destinations.  Would I be away when Daphne left us?  "You know I will if I am here," I begin as I explain my situation. The Fates did not intervene, either for Daphne or for me.  Her funeral is scheduled for the day of our departure flight for our last trip, this one to Britain.  My heart sinks.  I can think of nothing else for days.  In the end, I would need to be reconciled with the memories of our visits during her illness and our children's youth.

Not only did the Fates not intervene, they seem to have conspired.  Our trip to Britain took us away from home for two watershed events.  We played the hand we were dealt, like so many others in our community, a different hand, but one that nonetheless presented its own particular challenges.

It is what it is.  Despite my dismay.

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