Fantastic Friday: Rebirth

How’s the weather where you live? Here, we’ve had unprecedented rain. Our sump pump was running almost nonstop, dumping water onto an already-saturated ground. We had to build our own version of a Roman aqueduct to direct water away from the house and keep the basement dry.

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The nonstop rain, the flooding, and the lack of sun lent itself to drastic comparisons from friends and coworkers: we’re stuck in the River Styx, that foggy river of the underworld. We should build arcs: we’re headed for the great flood. We’re in limbo or purgatory; we won’t see the sun for a week. Many complain that this is supposed to be a time of sunshine and flowers, not dampness and clouds.

For me, the week felt especially Stygian. Perhaps because I’m an English teacher, I’m always looking for examples of pathetic fallacy, when we attribute human emotions to non-human things–the reason it rains at funerals in film and television. The rainy week followed the unexpected death of a family member, so it was easy to see the universe as agreeing with family sentiment. Sunless. Hopeless. Damp. Gray.

Luckily, my toddler makes the best of most situations. Instead of bemoaning the lack of sun, she belted out a few rounds of “Rain, Rain, Go Away” and then promptly demanded her boots and raincoat for a romp through the extensive neighborhood puddles. “Just like Peppa Pig,” she added.

She noticed that her sand table, emptied for the winter, had filled to the brim with water. While I worried over balancing the threat of a mosquito breeding ground of standing water with the danger of dumping that much water onto an already-saturated lawn, the filled pool caused a smile to crack on her face.

She promptly dunked her shoulders and head into the water, which had grown cold in the sunless day. “Nice and cool,” she said. “Now I’m all wet.” She said it in a giggly way, her tone implying that being this wet was a privilege reserved for only special occasions like a week of nonstop rain.

After getting soaked, she trudged to the front of the house, where we had stretched 120 feet of four-inch drain pipe to take overflow water from the sump pump onto our driveway so that our basement walls could finally dry. After watching the toddler splash in the steady trickle coming down the driveway, and invite the corgis to do the same, we noticed one of our normally-manicured bushes had a chunk missing from it, likely the result of a heavy bit of snow weighing it down this winter.

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There, hiding in the damaged bush, were four baby birds. At our approach, we blew them kisses, prompting them all to raise their mouths to the sky, awaiting food from their mother. My daughter was thrilled. I thought ahead to the meal the birds’ mother would bring, how one day very soon the birds would learn to fly; and that made me think ahead to the summer and the seedlings I had started, just waiting for the rains to stop to be placed into the ground.

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I thought of the death of my loved one as my daughter snuggled into my shoulder, gibbering gleefully about the baby birds. I thought of how my family, though mourning, is expecting the addition of two baby boys in the course of the next six months.

That night, my husband set up my daughter’s “campsite,” a sleeping bag set-up on the floor she sometimes requests in lieu of her bed. He’s been good at telling her “campfire” stories lately. As I sat in bed waiting for sleep to overtake me, I thought about my lost relative, remembering several anecdotes about him that brought a smile. My writer’s mind already started crafting them into stories to share at the toddler’s next “campout.”

Though our loved one is gone from this physical world, the memories we have of him are there, ready for a new generation to hear and learn from and laugh with. Appropriate for spring and the growth that will eventually follow all this rain, I look forward to sharing these memories will new ears.

 

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