I should have known. Isn't that what we always think - afterwards?
It was time to do laundry. Bedding specifically. Sheets, pillow cases, and one blanket. The drum of the wash machine wasn't even at maximum capacity. Everything fit comfortably and loosely.
The same water that aides us in cleaning, hydrating, and helping grow life can also be the water that damages and destroys. Water that is not welcomed, is dangerous. We see this with flooding and torrential downpours when too much rain causes damage. We might also see this in our own homes. This is the third time in the ten years we have lived in our home that we have incurred water damage. Three times. 10 years. The last time was just over a year ago when both our sump pump and back up sump pump failed and inches of water seeped up from our foundation requiring removal of carpeting, baseboards, and drywall. The first flood was two months after we moved into our house and pipes beneath our kitchen sink burst when we were not home and left several inches of water sitting, destroying. Fortunately our basement was not finished at the time so below was just concrete that needed drying out, but the floor and subfloor on the main level were trashed. We stayed in a hotel while our home builder repaired the flooring, since it was discerned that his plumbers were at fault.
Who is at fault now? Does it help to place blame? As I reflect, I see myself at fault and feel terrible. The blanket that was being washed had created problems in the past with unbalancing the drum of the wash machine. I would get an error message alerting me to reset the machine, move the blanket's weight evenly within the drum. I never expected this to happen. Did, over time, the washing of this blanket wear out the machine? The machine was 10 years old. Had it given up under too much pressure? There is no autopsy in this situation and I am no mechanic. We are waiting for the insurance adjuster to come pay us a visit.
Doesn't it seem like we face the same challenges and lessons again and again? Perhaps we learn something that we then apply the next time. What I can tell you is that all three flooding circumstance have been sudden and unexpected - markers for trauma. As I found myself walking barefoot in an inch of water down my hallway, all the previous memories came flooding back (sure, pun intended). I had flashes of the previous incidences, the pounding in my chest, and the call to action - but not certain what to do first. I grabbed every imaginable towel in our house and recruited the help of my kids. I called my husband. Then I turned off the water valve. When I ran to the basement to shut off the water, I heard dripping. More water. Water, torturing me. Under other circumstances, listening to trickling water can be calming. Not when it is in your house, coming from your ceiling. I immediately put down towels under the dripping water and my son came to the basement and turned over bins of toys to start collecting the water. Brilliant! I ran upstairs to procure more bowls to catch the water. My other son was using bathrobes and miscellaneous items to push the water away from the carpeted areas. He's been through this before. He remembers wet carpet.
We moved quickly to try to minimize the damage, but there was still damage. We weren't able to save our carpet in the basement entirely or the carpet in the bedrooms on our main floor. The laminate flooring that was effected has dried, but sits curled, bubbled up, defeated. We walk across it and it crunches beneath our feet. The water stopped flowing and is no longer present - but the destruction it left behind is undeniable and familiar.
What is the underlying message of water that I am missing? Am I not honoring it in my life? Am I taking it for granted? I am not sure yet. I am wondering what water has to say to me. What is its message?
When I heard the washing machine making an error signal, I did not respond immediately. Had I, would I have saved our house from the inch of water sloshing up against the baseboards? From the destruction of drywall? I fell as I moved hastily through the water. Under other circumstances, sitting in water might feel nice. Not in clothes, in the hallway of your house.
When my husband arrived home, together we removed drywall from the ceiling to allow the water to flow out more quickly. As I held the drywall above my head and the water released flowing over my face, I couldn't help but laugh as I was taken back to a time this winter when we were in Jamaica at Dunn River Falls and I sat underneath a water fall with water pouring down the front of my face. Water. In a very different circumstance. Water that was fun and desirable - playful, yet fierce. This water, while also rushing over my face was trying to escape. Gravity was pulling it to its lowest point and I had just removed a barrier. I had collected the water in my clothes. Standing their soaking wet, my son found a damp towel and offered it to me. I asked him to take the drywall from my hands and I removed myself from the situation while he and my husband moved it out of the way and placed a bucket underneath to collect any remaining dripping water. Under other circumstances at a different time and place, I had enjoyed the rushing water over my face. Not standing in my basement holding drywall above my head.
The path to restoration is a long and slow one. Experience has taught us that we will need to wait for insurance and approvals and phone calls and more phone calls. I typically don't answer my phone if it is a number I don't recognize. Now I answer it all the time. Florida is calling - hello? Yet, I feel grateful. I am grateful that this occurred during June when I could access the sunshine to dry our soaking wet towels when laid upon our deck. I am grateful that my sons were home and responded immediately to the situation. I am grateful I was home when this happened and also not alone. I am grateful that my dear friend and neighbor, Lisa, allowed me to wash our towels at her house so that we could take showers and dry ourselves off. I am grateful that even though in the interim we need to access a laundromat to wash our clothes, that my children now get to experience what it's like to take all of our dirty laundry to an off site location. I have not had to do this for years and the steps necessary (rounding up quarters, finding things to bring with you to do while your clothes wash, etc.) is something I have time for right now because it is summer. I also am comforted knowing this is only temporary and for that, I am grateful. While fans and dehumidifiers howl throughout our house, bringing back memories of not long ago, and when the indoor chaos gets to be too much, we can easily go outside. I can tend to my blooming flowers and breathe in the fresh air. We remember to carry through on our daily activities knowing that while life serves up the unexpected, how we respond makes all the difference in the world.
What challenges, experiences, and lessons have you had repeat themselves? Have you found the meaning within the mess? I'd love for you to share in the comments!