Forcasters warned us, ahead of time. There would be lots of rain over the second half of the week. LOTS. I sort of figured I knew what that meant. A lot of rain. We may not have seen that for a while, but still. It's like the time it rained last week, but more.
I was wrong.
There was the usual disorientation of a natural disaster. One area decimated, another barely touched. Some cities were suddenly islands. A man died when a mud slide crushed his house. Roads crumbled out from underneath cars. And all of it, unevenly applied. Max's school has lost nothing, save a few Ultimate Frisbee practices. Tre's school got this:
On top of the uncertainty of the chaos that swept in, I was disoriented by the sheer volume of water. That sounds a bit simple-minded, I suppose. But I've lived in Colorado for 21 years now. Half of my life. Colorado is semi-arid at the best of times, and we've been in a drought for what seems like a thousand years (hence the fires that overwhelmed the past two summers). I've seen rain, of course. But if it lasts more than a half hour, I'm peering at the sky in wonder. And after a real, soaking rain, I walk out into the world again, and I am struck, over and over: everything is WET. Everything. So you can only imagine what this much rain is doing to my tiny brain.
So much rain.
But after a few days of unrelenting rain, Saturday brought a morning of sunshine. I walked through the yard to visit the chickens, feeling the spongy ground under my feet. The wooden gate into their enclosure was softened and swollen and heavy. Everything drooped, after being pressed down for days by the rain. I raised my face to the sun and wanted to drink the blue sky. Other than a little water in the crawl space, we'd gotten through it without really being affected. It was finally over, I thought.
I was wrong.
That afternoon the clouds rolled in again, like a sheet of lead clamped over the sky. Lightening flashed, strobe-bright, and thunder not only rattled the windows, but made the very floors shimmer. And then it rained.
For us, this was the worst day. I don't know if you can see it, but that river, just beyond the deck? That's not supposed to be a river at all. Just yard. But Saturday afternoon it flowed, fifteen feet across, wild and anachronistic. Another river flowed past our back door, a foot deep. That brought the only flood waters we got in our house, because foolishly enough, our door jambs are less than a foot high.
I was gone when this happened, out grocery shopping. Clay was at work, because he was on call this weekend (his job involves programming the systems that control well houses, and you can imagine how many things went wrong, between the lightening and the water everywhere). Tre was at work too, but only because he works at McDonald's, and nothing stems the tide of Big Macs. Max called me on his cell phone, not afraid, you understand, but just checking to see if I was alright. As soon as I got of the phone with him, Raphael called from my parent's phone next door, just wondering if I was okay. Just checking.
Dad cleared as much water out of the hall as he could with the shop vac. I came home to a house still standing and children who were largely unconcerned. Raphael was irritated that my mom wouldn't allow him to go play in that river. He figured even if it did sweep him away, the fence at the edge of the yard would just strain him out. I ask you.
We woke Sunday morning, and when I twitched back the curtain and saw that the sky was gray, my heart sank. Surely no more? We got ourselves ready and headed to Mass, commenting as we went on the water here, the mud swept over there, like driving through the bottom of an emptied lake, everything changed and moved by the water.
In the middle of Mass, Tre nudged me and pointed at the window. The sky had morphed from an unremarkable gray into that solid dark granite that has dogged us for days. The light changed, weakened. Anxiety surged in my chest with the waning of the light. What now?
It rained, though not that much, off and on all afternoon. I could not relax, could not stop watching the sky. Clay and I always take a nap on Sunday afternoons, but he got called into work again, and I couldn't be still without his warm hand on my back, so I got up and prowled the house.
Maybe it's as simple as an addiction to light. Maybe I'm overwhelmed enough inside my head that the loss of control outside my head seems too hard to navigate. Maybe I seriously need to learn how to deal with fear. For whatever reason, it all seemed terribly threatening and dark. This would never end, I thought. My world would never look like it was supposed to. The sun would never show again.
I was wrong.
(I should say here that this picture is from this morning. It may be a little premature to act as though this is all over, because it's supposed to rain this afternoon. However, forecasters agree that the worst of the weather is behind us. Now the work begins. 1,250 people are unaccounted for. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,500 home destroyed, and more than ten times that number damaged. Colorado could use your prayers, if you're so inclined.)