You wake up at four to the storm, bleary-eyed and wondering...in awe of it. The band-saw wind and the dancing trees; you're grateful to be inside, staring out the mottled window for a few minutes before you return to sleep. Thinking about water. Magic, really. It is our friend. Except when it is not.
Sunday morning, you stroll outside. Your daughter wanted to jump in puddles, but they were drying up. The sun was trying to set things right. And then you saw the video. Waves of water coursing through the parking lot, up to the fenders on your motorcycle...your neighbors car with it's bumper near torn off. But you didn't connect it, see. Not on a sunny Sunday morning. Just: "Wow, look at all that water." And then on to Christmas errands. You didn't think what it was like on the first floor.
Driving past broken trees and castaway cars on the freeway. That cold feeling is starting to play chopsticks on your spine. Your cell phone rings and your wife tells you that all your neighbors' furniture is outside. Firetrucks and cleanup crews. Now, it's real. Life on the second floor goes on, but your downstairs neighbors are standing shell-shocked, trying to decide what is salvageable. Trying to smile. Doing a surprisingly good job, considering.
And now the stories are starting. Christmas presents ruined. Furniture decaying. Sewage contamination. And you're up there on the second floor, and you're trying to find the world's biggest bandaid.
Sure, it's painful. You start thinking about the kids who won't get the presents their parents saved for. You try to put yourself in those shoes...everything gone. You wonder what the water took. Furniture can be replaced. What about photo albums? What about the drawings your children did? What about the feeling of security? What about the storm that is still coming...?
It's the people that break your heart, though. They're not complaining. They're helping each other, sharing food and trying to make sense of it. They're smiling and laughing with shock-wide eyes. But they won't be beaten by the water. And now you understand more than ever what the word 'neighbor' means.