It's late at night. Someone I love dearly accuses me of lying. What she
doesn't know leads her to that therefore seemingly valid conclusion. I
know saying what really happened will hurt her. Yet if I don't, I can't
live with my integrity out for not saying. I choose to say. Her face
turns gray as she listens realizing I'm serious. I've just bet
everything I own in the world on her precious love, and for all I know
I've just lost it all.
I go outside. I hardly notice the stars, usually plentiful at my place,
are hidden behind clouds. I hardly notice it's
softly but steadily. The tears start to come, blending with the
on my face. Soon I'm crying. I let it come. Sobs mingled with grunts
and snorts come out of me. When it finally subsides, I'm washed clean.
I go back inside and go to bed, spent. I don't notice the
steadily increasing. Home and dry,
* * *
my son Joshua and I
wake. We get into the car and drive down the hill to go
laps in the olympic pool at our village gymnasium. We live on the
corner edges of a two hundred acre cattle ranch and a one hundred and
fifty acre horse stable and paddock. The
we have the good fortune to live in is cozy and warm as we set out,
chatting amiably as we meander down the road.
If I could have done a classic double take as
'toons do, I would have. The familiar road in front of us
is now a ramp disappearing down into a lake. A lake?What?How?Where? Questions
flash through my still not comprehending mind. The surroundings are
eerily quiet. We're the first on the scene. We turn right, looking for
a way around. That way is open. We drive, talking animatedly about what
we've just seen, and I avert my eyes from headlights pointing at me.
Only they aren't moving. They're shining from a car pointing wrongly
upward, water up to and clear through its windows, its entire chassis
deep under another lake which my racing mind is totally
clear shouldn't be there. This is supposed to be a road not a
"Josh" I say to my son who is also incredulously silent. "What do you
think?". "It's a flood, Dad" he says. No doubt about it. He's right.
We back up in our tracks, trying to find a way out of this rapidly
shrinking island. Back in the other direction, we see three cars coming
toward us, making wakes through a river washing over the
road. "Let's go through, Dad"
urges excitedely, his wide-eyed innocence completely oblivious to the
danger. In front of our startled eyes, the middle car is suddenly
turned on its side, fills with water, and as its terrified driver
struggles to get out the passenger window, is picked up like a twig and
deposited unceremoniously on what was once a guard rail.
"I don't think so, Josh ..." I say to him, turning around and driving
back in our tracks, following the road back to higher, safe ground. We
drive around looking for a way out, and we don't find one. Eventually
our curiosity gets the better of us. We park on high ground. Lifting
our jackets over our heads to protect us from the now driving
we walk down to a bridge over the river. As we draw near, my jaw drops
... all by itself. The river, usually a lazy fifty yards wide and
twenty feet below the bridge, is now an angry, raging torrent a half
mile wide completely covering the bridge, and the road is nowhere to be
seen. A huge metal dumpster filled with building debris floats
incorrigibly by, rocking crazily.
"Josh my Son, take this all in" I tell him. "You may never see
anything as mighty as this again as long as you live.".
* * *
The flood tests my stand. What do I mean by that? Things are what they
are, and they aren't what they aren't.
This is OK,
and it doesn't mean anything. Can I stand for that in the midst of
this? I look ... and I notice I can. This is the nature of life in the
world for human beings. There've always been floods. There probably
always will be. There's a lot of make wrong here: from
those who assert we did this to ourselves by interfering with the
ecological balance and causing global warming, from those who assert
our flood control measures were inadequate, from those who assert in an
apocalyptic sense that this is some kind of cosmic
punishment for us being bad.
It's none of the above. It's a flood. That's what it is. And that's all
And ... in the midst of that realization, I'm deeply
compassionate for those in my community who are no doubt severely
inconvenienced by this, for the people of Bande Ache over whom the
tsunami swept, for the people of the village of Bam in Iran who woke up
to their homes collapsing on them in a 6.6 earthquake when all that
happened to me was my tee shirt got
and I got some mud on my cowboy boots.
* * *
Over the next few days
Joshua and I
Christian my eldest son
Alexandra my daughter
drove around our village as the waters rose and then receded. We
watched the waters rise four feet into a hotel where
of mine once stayed. We looked into a basement parking garage I parked
in when attending a court case, now a deep
pool. We peered through the glass doors of the box office of our local
cineplex where the children and I spent many happy times together
taking in the latest "Harry Potter"s et al, now a mud bath replete with
soggy sandbags as eloquent testimony to a harried and hopelessly
inadequate attempt to stem Mother Nature's
tide, and a sign plaintively, obviously, telling us "Closed
until further notice.". We watched as shopkeepers waded up to their
chests down usually bucolic avenues trying to save whatever they could
of their goods, or at least move them to higher places, chagrin all
over their faces.
I noticed my office, perched dangerously on the right bank of the
normally quaint river, was completely spared. Six inches of creamy mud
covered the entire street in front of our lobby, proof of the night the
waters rose. Yet not one drop had entered our building even as
neighboring tenants shoveled buckets of mud out into the street. And
the office we had just moved from three days earlier was even more
remarkably spared. As
Joshua and I
walked around it, stepping carefully over debris deposited there by the
river now subsided and one hundred yards away, we noticed what appeared
to be a crescent shaped invisible protective barrier of avoidance in
front of our old premises. I looked through the windows of the now
shuttered building expecting to see water and mud damage inside and on
the floors. Instead I saw the fresh tracks of vacuum cleaners in the
pile of the rugs we had cleaned before vacating the premises. Yet just
next door were people in Wellington boots cleaning their
street level garages, the entire contents of which were now dirty
chocolate from a two foot wall of water and mud.
* * *
I finally create the opportunity to go back to the girl who accused me
of lying. I apologize to her. I tell her I apologize for the
way I said what I said, not for what I said, the
truth of which I assert she had to know, and I ask her to
Without missing a beat, she kisses me, says it's "OK", then suddenly
throws her arms around my neck, embraces me, and says she loves me.
She got it. Thank
I breathe a sigh of relief as I say I love her too. She gets that too,
like a contact high, and she says "That's awesome! That's
so cool ...".