Wednesday, June 26, 2013

thoughts on this great city

Remember that time my city filled with water? And people lost their stuff? And then their homes? And the hippos almost swam away in a river that swept through their hippo haven? That was a bad day.

A terrible, no good, very bad day.

I just dropped off a bunch of granola bars and juice boxes to the crew who is cleaning up a community in this water logged city of mine. 

I don't know what else to do right now. 

I don't recall ever in my life feeling so useless. And at the same time, I can not even begin to describe my gratitude. 

My selfish gratitude that my house and my life's conveniences were untouched during this catastrophe. 

I am grateful for all the people in my shoes who are so quick to answer the call of those who were touched by the waters. 

The devastation is impossible for me to wrap my head around. How on earth will this mess get cleaned up? How on earth will the Stampede happen? How on earth will the zoo be restored? How on earth will people pick up the soggy, mucky mess and move on without being ruined by the damage, financially and emotionally?

I see pictures of the damage and the helpers and the smiles and the work that has been done already and I know that life will go on. It always does, doesn't it?

Life goes on. 

But the mess, oh my word, the mess. I can't comprehend it. And I suppose that's because every night I go to sleep in my dry house with my dry kids and I am so so grateful. 

So selfishly grateful that it isn't me. 

When the rains were falling last week and people were trying hard not to complain about all the rain, for it was an endless amount of rain, my little family was feeling wet and waterlogged and just plain crabby about the lack of sun. Then the news came that we were going to get record breaking amounts of rain and the general sigh heard throughout the land signaled that it was okay to complain a wee bit. 

And then our city filled with water. 

And my brain did that thing. That thing where I wondered how bad could it really be? I mean, come on, it's just water. Total denial.

I was glued to twitter. Every ten seconds there was an update from the city. From the police. From health services. From people who knew people who knew someone who's basement was flooding. From people themselves who were being evacuated. 

People I know.

Denial left and a heavy heart set in. How do you convince the rains to stop? It's enough. Leave the poor people alone. These are people I know. Please, rain, enough.

And please, please, please, don't ruin my home. It was a selfish plea, but I made it nonetheless. 

Finally, the rains stopped. The devastation realized. The clean up began. The people of my city awed me with what they were willing to do for one another. 

School was cancelled for the rest of the year. Recitals postponed, cancelled, rescheduled. People working around the clock to make our world safe again. 

Anxiety high, tears shed, gratitude expressed. Again and again and again. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Calgary, thank you. Thank you for making me proud when you could have abandoned those in need. Thank you for picking up my slack when I wasn't able to be there like my heart craved. Thank you for donating, for baking, for getting mud in your nooks and crannies as you continue to gut basements with smiles on your faces. Thank you for your promise that we will be restored, slowly and surely. Thank you for reminding me that humans are good and kind and lovely. Thank you for the bright sunshine felt today as I gathered what I could for workers and the displaced. 

Every now and then people get knocked off their rockers for no good reason. We could ask, "why me?"  But instead this city has asked, "how can I help?"

And I am grateful. For so very much.

***I borrowed these pictures from my friends, Merry and Julie, whose homes were in danger and fortunately spared.***


  1. this. I felt the same way. So sorry for those who lost everything but so glad it wasn't me. It makes you feel guilty but it is the first thing that goes through your head. And then the dismay of how on earth they will clean all this up and get the city running again.

    I am so proud to call Calgary my home and this week has made me even prouder.

  2. This is a lovely post, Catherine. And I echo your sentiments - all of them.