So I know that I said I probably wouldn’t write something related to this but it’s been weighing heavily on my heart, enough that I’m dreaming about it again. Sigh. And the only way I know to really get things off my chest is to write. So here we go. This is probably going to be long so I seriously respect you if you read all of this.
August 2016. I honestly feel like I lost a piece of myself. Actually I feel like it was stolen from me. A thief in the form of a flood took a piece of me that I’ll never get back.
That morning getting out of bed was supposed to be like any other. Sure we had a flash flood warning hours before but we had those all the time. Basically every “heavy” rain. Nothing ever happened. Until it did. I slipped in that puddle of water. It honestly didn’t register in my brain what was going on. I turned on the lights and saw the water pouring in around the door. Our kitchen floor shined with water. My heart fell into my stomach. I called Cameron out of the bed in our room where he laid with Ryland. I honestly don’t remember what I said. I just remember screaming at him to come into the kitchen. It was in that moment that our lives completely changed. We just looked at each other full of panic. We didn’t say much. There wasn’t anything to say. Just this unspoken knowledge that anything we wished to save needed to be picked up. Now. Something that was never supposed to happen was actually happening. Cameron started throwing chairs on the table and things onto the counter top. I threw on some clothes on and grabbed Ryland out of his bed. We hurried to his room and put clothes and rain boots on him to let him walk around the house. The goal was to not scare him. He was almost two. He had no idea what was happening. In that moment I wish I could’ve been that naive. I could hear Cameron moving our things in other parts of the house. We started throwing everything up onto surfaces we thought were high enough that the water wouldn’t touch Counters, on top of metal framed bed, tops of closets, top of the kitchen table, anything a few feet off the floor. Our mindset was that we could replace some things with no problem. We just didn’t want to have to replace everything. We threw 2 garbage bags full of clothes into the truck, not wanting to have to worry about clothes through all this. In the midst of it all, Cameron had called his parents who were on their way to pick up Ryland. Forty five minutes had gone by since we’d woken up. It felt like it’d only been ten minutes, and ten hours at the same time. Water was consistently rising in the house. Inch by inch it crept up the walls. We loaded the truck down with the cats, the cat food, our clothes , a few of Rylands must haves for over night stays, and a couple of valuables we decided to put in there. It’s crazy what you think is “important” in those types of situations. There are things I completely forgot about and things I can’t even explain why we took in the heat of the moment. Cameron’s parents arrived and couldn’t get down our drive way with a trailer because the water was so deep, so all of our big stuff had to stay. Our yard had shin to knee deep water in it . Cameron waded through it and handed Ryland and our dog over to them. He then came back inside so we could wrap up. In that moment, I lost it. We were having a baby in January I had no idea how any of this was going to work, how we were going to fix this. Cameron held me and reassured me that it was going to be okay. We’d just cut out the wet Sheetrock and live on concrete floors for the time being, he explained, assuming we’d get no more than a foot of water. He held me and calmed me when he was falling apart on the inside. He is what kept me going through everything. He was my rock. We pushed through finishing picking everything we could up, and grabbed the keys and headed out the door. Our carport had a knee deep water on it. And the rain wasn’t letting up. It just kept pouring and pouring. As I walked to the truck I just felt broken. Lost. Not really understanding how or why something like this could happen to us. We were in our early twenties. Just starting our lives together. Just why.
The rest of August 12th was a blur of going to Cameron’s grandparents and helping them get prepared in case they flooded, and getting situated at my in laws house. We went to sleep that night looking at the feed from our security cameras mounted on our house , seeing no water anywhere. The ditches were empty and everything looked normal. But it was still raining. Cameron and his dad had planned to go back in the morning and start drying the house out.
August 13th, we woke up and our plans were swept off the table. The rivers were spilling over their banks. Our house sits less than a mile from a river. Cameron checked our cameras and we had water half way up our front door. It’s a knock the wind out of you moment. There are no words to describe that feeling in that moment. And then the power was cut to our neighborhood. We lost our eyes on the house. I watched the color leave my husbands face. We watched the news, we scanned Facebook, repeatedly checking the river levels, needing answers. Needing something , anything, about our home. Until we found it. A video of a couple going through our neighborhood on a boat. Yes. You read that right. The water was up to the eves on most of the houses and a boat was going through the neighborhood. In that moment we knew the state in which our house sat. Honestly I can’t tell you what days are which at this point. Saturday or Sunday. This whole weekend just blurs together. At the time none of it felt real. I remember a few family members telling me “You’re so strong. I’m so proud of you for holding it together.” I was numb. Numb to the whole thing. It felt like a movie I was watching. None of it was happening to me, atleast that’s how it felt. I hadn’t cried. I hadn’t felt anything. Maybe it was my body’s way of coping with the shock. Maybe it was me protecting myself. I don’t know. I just know that I felt nothing. Sick at times, but my emotions were gone.
Monday, August 15th. Cameron was able to make it back to our house with my dad. Service was spotty so I wasn’t getting much from him. Just that it wasn’t good. He sent a few pictures of the house in shambles. Looking at those photos with our furniture covered in muddy water and our things strewn every where, still no emotion came. Nothing. Even as I sat there looking at photos of OUR house I didn’t feel anything. At that moment I just wanted to be there. Be within the four walls that was our safe haven for a little over a year. Within the four walls that housed so many memories in such a short period of time. I needed to be there more than anything else in that moment. Later that day, we all went back to the house to start the clean up process. Family and friends were there, already throwing things out of the house into the front yard when I got there. I walked past all of our stuff in the front yard and walked inside and looked around. Everything. Everything was ruined. 6 ft and 2 inches of water took everything in that house from us. Things we thought would be safe on counter tops and beds weren’t. It was ruined. So much was ruined. And the smell. It was unlike anything I’d ever smelled before. But it’s a smell that’ll be with me forever. Something in me snapped. I lost it. Standing in the middle of everyone rushing around me, pulling stuff, our stuff, out of my house. I felt the sobs shake through me. My stepmom held me as I cried. Our sense of normalcy was gone, replaced by this need to create a new normal. The plan on the table now was to gut the house completely and move in with my in laws while we rebuilt.
A couple weeks went by, the house was gutted, and Cameron started making big decisions about contractors and things that would slowly put our house back together. We’d settled in at my in laws and it wasn’t long before Cameron started a turnaround( 7 days a week, 12 hours a day) that was supposed to last 3 weeks but lasted 8. The depression creeped in. Creeped is too soft of a word. Shoved it’s way in is more accurate. There was no stopping it. It was a darkness that wanted to drag me back down to its level every chance it got and I had no energy left to fight it after everything that had happened. Most days it was a struggle to get myself out of bed in the morning. Sleep was the most appealing thing in the world. I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t want to do anything but sit in my bubble. I couldn’t shake it. I pulled back from everyone, including Cameron. I didn’t lay my emotions on him knowing he was struggling just as much if not more than I was . I buried everything. Feeling like I needed to just disappear into myself. To be in this darkness, to feel alone, to be numb to what was going on around me but sleep never came at night. I was exhausted. Months. Months this went on and I felt this way. I’m not even sure who noticed, if anyone. And of course I didn’t tell really anyone because I was supposed to be strong . People were proud because of how well we were holding it together. I couldn’t lose it again after that day in our house. So I pressed forward, praying that one day soon I’d have more fight than the darkness did.
My pregnancy with Lilah didn’t stop because our lives were turned upside down. The weeks pushed on and every promise I had made to myself about cherishing what was probably my last pregnancy went out the window. Looking back on I, I can’t help but mourn the loss of it all. There wasn’t much enjoyment or much celebration around it. It was like one day I looked down and I was already 30 weeks pregnant, wondering where my pregnant time with her had gone. The depression didn’t make things any better. I was so stressed and extremely anxious. And So genuinely worried about everything concerning her because of how stressed I was. I didn’t feel like my body was keeping her safe. I felt toxic and worried I was somehow doing her harm. So then I worried more. It was a vicious cycle. Pregnancy felt beautiful and enjoyable with Ryland. I wanted that with her and it just never happened. I always felt like something was wrong or was going to go wrong. The feeling was always there. I can’t get that time back. Please don’t take that as me not being happy about her, because she was a light in it all. It’s just not how I imagined that pregnancy going and I feel like it was another thing taken from us in all of this . It’s one of the toughest things to swallow about this whole period of time.
Birthdays and holidays came and went and we were pushing closer to our move in date. My spirits were starting to lift. I had more fight than the dark entity who kept me down for so long and I was starting to feel better. Our desired move in date of course got pushed back a few times , but still we were getting close. We held onto that. And then we moved home. For a period of time it was glorious. Being home and having our own space, feeling like we were actually preparing for our second child . It was comforting. And then it wasn’t anymore. The stress I felt after getting that first flash flood warning after moving in was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, to this day if it rains at night I’m up all night. Watching our cameras. Having the urge to check our house. Everytime it rains hard I can’t help but panic a little. Sitting in our freshly done house seems awesome to some people. We got to pick everything single thing that went back into. To make it our own. Every little thing that has been changed to our liking serves as a reminder of what happened, though. There are times I still see or dream about the house before the flood and the memories and feelings come rushing back flooding my emotions over and over again. If it were my choice I’d have kept the house the way it was just to not have had to experience something so traumatic.
Our house. Our home. The place that was our safe haven. Our “castle”. The place we went when things got scary now held some of the worst and scariest memories of my life. It didn’t ( doesn’t ) hold those same feelings anymore. It doesn’t feel like home. It doesn’t feel like my house. It doesn’t make me feel safe. My anxiety is ten times worse being here now than it ever has been. The weather being the biggest cause of my anxiety. Even after being “home sweet home”, everything is scarily different. The house, the feelings and emotions behind it, us as people. It’s all changed. Granted, It’s beautiful house outfitted with very beautiful things but I struggle feeling like this is our place. Part of me wonders if it’s me not wanting to get attached to it, knowing it could easily all be taken from us again. And I know . That’s no way to live. But it’s not something I know how to control. It’s not something I know how to suppress. It just happens when I’m not even thinking about it . And if you’ve ever gone through something like this, maybe, just maybe, you know what I’m talking about.
There’s so much more that could’ve been said about this time frame in our lives. So many details I left out. But , I stuck to what sticks out to me the most. What haunts me still and has the ability to send me in a downward spiral resulting in tears and a pit in my stomach. I long for the day we can close this chapter in our lives, and start somewhere new. With no feelings. Good or bad. Something fresh. I know that being somewhere different isn’t going to magically erase these emotions or feelings. This will always be apart of me, and anyone who went through this. I just long for the day that our home isn’t a constant reminder of everything we lost.
Until next time, Alyssia.