What a difference a day makes.
Yesterday, we were on the run, fleeing the rising river. Today, we are rested, well-fed, and much-relieved. That’s not to say we’ve forgotten what we just left; not by a longshot. But we’ve at least removed one bundle of stress from the Fargo-Moorhead area. I don’t regret our departure. Now, we wait it out with everyone who remains, only this time from afar.
It was strange. We left under duress yesterday, not feeling imminent danger to us personally, but the communal stress was palpable. It affects everyone in crisis. And when you’re a mother, responsible for the well-being of five kids, it’s a tough game, the waiting game. It’s hard to imagine from the outside how overwhelming it can be in the middle. I feel for my friends who are still there with families, and I worry about my husband, being there without us.At the same time, it is such a blessing to feel safe.
Nevertheless, my heart aches for my friend who lost her home two nights ago. Just before we left, I watched her and her daughter on national television, their water-filled home in the background. Though obviously depleted from what they’d just endured, they were a beautiful sight — composed and eloquent. And they talked about diverting their energy to helping others still in the fight. I am so proud of who they are and how they have handled their loss. The background story is that this friend lost her mother to cancer quite a few years ago. Later, when her father had gone elsewhere, she and her family moved into the parents’ home. So, even though, in her words, “it’s just a house,” I know otherwise. I know that her home contained many memories, not only of her own family’s living, but of the times she spent with her parents there. It is just a home, but one that had been filled with life. A piece of your soul remains when you lose a home. I know this from having lost my childhood home to arson several years ago.
But here we are now, and I can’t imagine a better place on earth for us to be. My friend, Mary, went through the Grand Forks flood in 1997. She was a teacher, and when the school year ended abruptly, she left town with her 3-year-old feeling a void of unresolve. Because the summer came next, there was little processing with the community in the aftermath. Instead, people either scattered or slogged through the debris, numb and in disbelief as a communal grieving took hold.
She knows what it’s like to feel the stress of it, to feel displaced, to need a warm welcome, and she definitely provided that to us. Everything has changed in the last 24 hours. The moment I arrived at her doorstep, the stress level went down about ten notches, and the fatigue from both relief and sleepless nights prior took over. But today is a new and wonderful day.
Last night, I took the kids to Target — a promised outing from days before. The little boys were especially giddy, excited to spend their dollars in the “dollar section.” My oldest had stayed home with Mary’s boys, hanging out in their “boy heaven” basement. I looked at my kids and felt so relieved and happy. Everyone seems so relaxed. After Target, we went through the carwash. “We’re gonna die!!!!” the kids screamed from the back seat, taking full advantage of the car-wash drama. How grateful I felt at that moment that it was said in good fun, and that we were in the safety of a carwash and not in a home in Fargo-Moorhead being washed away for real.
Fleeing is not the choice of every parent. Many have stayed. But I know we’re not the only family that left for higher ground. And as I came downstairs this morning and saw that Mary had put a cup for me near the coffeemaker, and when I found the bookmark she’d placed on the nightstand where I would sleep that says, “Happiness is having a friend by your side,” and as we talked last night until 1 in the morning, the kids snoozing away, all of these things have affirmed to me that we are in the right place, and that God is with us in a profound way. Whether we have sought refuge or remained behind, He is right here with us.
And now, I can use my replenished energy to focus my prayers on those back home. They say to pray when you are in good health, because it is more difficult to pray when ill. I assume that to mean well emotionally, too, because I suddenly feel a need, now that we are out of harm’s way, to make my mission from afar to hold up those who remain near the flood through prayer.
My connection to you all through this blog has been a high point in all of this. The exchanges and open channel to the outside world has been healing and, I suspect, will continue to be. Your thoughts have been tremendously uplifting. Thank you. I will try to stay on top of updates as I am able.
Peace to you!
[Photos: 1) Boy central basement, 2) Movie-watching slackers, 3) “Hope” wall-hanging, 4) Mirrored wall-hanging reflecting back yard trees]