When various friends and family ask me why I don’t blog anymore, I always get wistful: “I miss it, I do; I just don’t have time for it anymore.” When my husband points out that, lately, in the evenings, I’m doing a variety of nothing when I could be blogging, I sigh and say, “I’m just so tired, but I miss my friends.” I’ve told him of our Bond watch parties, Literate Housewife. Of readalongs.
I’ve kept up with so many of you via Instagram, and, admittedly, I spend too much time on the site, eager to see the next something beautiful, something creative. I’ve felt, in many ways, stuck this past year – I’ve loved my job, but last January the extra work, committees and subcommittees and the people who run them, made me begin to hate coming to work.
Then, a few weeks ago, Harvey hit. At first, my area of southeast Texas was fine. I thought it was much ado about nothing and worried about Houston, which floods so horribly. A few days later, my parents were issued a mandatory evacuation notice, even though they’re mere miles from me. Thankfully, they came to my house, and we spent a few tense days eating anything and everything as we waited for the rain to stop. No reading. Not much TV. Lots of checking Facebook for updates. Lots of pacing, particularly once photos of their neighborhood began to trickle in, showing waterways where roads once were and kicking our imaginations into high gear. Still, I held out hope. There’s always one house in a neighborhood that’s high and dry – why not them? My dad retired a few weeks ago. My mom has struggled with her health since she was young. Retired teachers don’t make much. I needed their home to be ok.
Their home wasn’t ok.
The rain stopped; other communities were able to get back into their homes and start cleaning out. My parents’ home was still underwater. My husband and I volunteered at a local donation station, packing boxes of goods for those who needed them and organizing the donations that kept coming from all across the state. We helped salvage precious items from his grandmother’s home, which also got water. We stayed busy. Then last Tuesday, the water receded enough that we were able to get into my parents’ neighborhood and survey the damage.
I posted photos on Instagram, and so many of you posted encouragement and sent love, and I truly felt encouraged and loved. I’m notoriously reticent, but the past few weeks have opened the floodgates, and I’ve been incredibly emotional. Friends showed up decked out in masks, boots, and gloves to help rid the house of the stinky, ruined personal belongings of my parents, and I sobbed. I sat on a Rubbermaid container lid, sifting through soaked, inky family photographs with another friend, and I couldn’t stop the tears.
Strangers have driven slowly through the neighborhood, passing out supplies and food because what you don’t realize as you’re working is just how hungry you are. And those supplies you thought you had too much of? You’ll need every glove, every contractor trash bag. But more than that, each smile and “I’m sorry” bolsters you.
People ask how my parents are, and they’re doing wonderfully. My dad has gone nearly every day to help neighbors muck out their own homes, even though his exhaustion shows on his face. My mom, whose health keeps her from doing the same, has had offers of laundry duty for the yards and yards of fabric that sat in floodwater (no dice; it shreds) and friends whisk her away for coffee.
The Raveys are helpers. We always have been. Being in the position to not just ask for help but to receive it? We’re blown away. Thank you, my sweet friends. Though many of us have never met or met only a time or two, you’ve made me feel your support across the miles. I couldn’t ask for better.