You’ll also notice that a few months later, in December, we used 35,684 gallons of water. That story is not as joyful. Larry and I had driven to California over Thanksgiving for a family reunion. Other than a flat tire, the trip went smoothly. When we finally arrived home two weeks later, though, we opened the front door to find the house flooded. The culprit - a broken water filter under the kitchen sink.
Standing water upstairs sent torrents of water downstairs. It was a catastrophe we could not have imagined. We called our insurance company, and within an hour or so of our return, a demolition crew tore up walls, ceilings, and flooring. Furniture was hauled away, books and photographs thrown in a large dumpster. Only two rooms were spared, and they became the storage spaces for the remains of a life we once knew.
For the next four months, we lived week by week in different rentals. The only clothes we had were the ones we had packed for our cross-country trip.
All of us are accustomed to convenience, to the simple act of opening a refrigerator and finding butter for toast or cream for coffee. We are comforted by familiarity, of knowing where the toothpaste is or the group photo of our children. We are attached to our “stuff”, the chair we sit in or the pillow that cradles our head. We don’t think about these things; they are the everyday part of our lives that go unnoticed – until they are no more.
When we are shaken by tragedy, it is the everyday unimportant things of life that suddenly become meaningful. These replaceable, common items capture our focus. It’s easier to be frustrated at a missing comb than the vanity that once held it. It’s easier to complain about the stationary that we can’t find than our desk that was thrown on the mound of broken dreams. Tragedy leaves our hearts barren of perspective; and, we manage through the unimportant details of life.
One way or another, we all emerge from our sorrow transformed. As the pieces of life return with some sense of order, we are surprised by laughter which had abandoned us and tears which we had ignored. And then, we discover that we are in love with life again – the people we meet, the sunrise and sunset, the flowers down the street. Our newly softened heart feels again, and we had doubted it was possible.