2016-09-30 / On Second Thought

Of floods and families

Too soon to celebrate
Cathy Cobbs

Editor’s Note: This is the 43rd installment in a series of articles by staff writer Cathy Cobbs chronicling her unique journey of the illness and death of her father and the loss of the family’s home in the Great Flood of 2015. This week, she discusses the anniversary of the flood and how people are handling it.

It’s both hard and easy to believe the one-year anniversary of the flood is fast approaching. Time is marked by all those affected as “normal” and “not normal” or “before” and “after” or “when things were mundane and peaceful” and “when things are chaotic and uncertain.”

In particular, people remember events that happened right before the catastrophe with longing and sadness, like “it was the last birthday my daughter had in our house,” or “we celebrated our newly remodeled kitchen with a party the Friday before all hell broke loose.”

Our family also recalls these last “normal” times before my father’s pneumonia started us down the sad slide into his death in hospice October 15.

Those benchmarks seem to hurt more for some reason, perhaps because we now long for that normalcy, and further, because we were blissfully unaware of the future pain and suffering that lay in the days ahead.

I can’t really explain the “events-before-THE-event” nostalgia, but I know it has hit people hard in several ways, expressed through bitterness, weariness, and avoidance. I haven’t talked to one person who feels they have triumphed over adversity and are in a peaceful place now, even those who have moved back into their homes.

Not to say people haven’t tried. Because I have, and it’s been pretty lame.

I had this grand plan to have a celebration party involving everyone in Lake Katherine, as a rally of support for those who are still displaced, and as a thank-you to everyone who has been affected throughout the rebuilding era. Grand plans for a tour of homes, signature drinks with cool names like “six feet under,” and a photo display in front of our house has turned into an afternoon party at the pool. And that’s been a struggle, even though there has been tons of support and help. My “rally-up” gear seems to be missing.

Others I’ve talked with are handling this weekend in other ways. Some neighbors are leaving the scene of the crime as it were, deciding to grieve in private or with close friends. Others are having small gatherings at home, and a few more have decided to ignore the day altogether. I don’t think there’s any “right” way to either honor or curse what has happened October 4.

Even though this year I have missed the mark on commemorating October 4, I still have hope for the future. My wish for a year from now is that we will be able to plan a party, serve a signature drink, and celebrate that terrible day with a mindset that will honor this time of suffering.

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