Updated: Jun 11, 2021
I look up from my phone and meet my husband’s glance. I nod, he doesn’t have to ask the question. I see it there, hanging between us.
I woke up that morning, rolled over, and picked up my phone to stop the blaring alarm. The screen lit up with its usual morning message. “Good morning!” It said, “The weather today is snowing. Currently, it’s -1.”
-1 degrees. I rarely saw that low of a temperature, if ever, when living in Maryland. I did not expect it living in Central Texas.
I roll out of bed, everything blurry. I felt dazed by the weather report. I knew we were going to get snow and it was going to be cold, but I wasn’t expecting it to be THAT cold.
I head towards the sink. Hopefully washing my face will help me wake up, then comprehend what’s going on around me.
I turn the faucet.
Nothing comes out.
Panic settles into my chest. A thrumming like a million bees are trapped inside my heart. My insides buzz with anxiety.
Although we dripped our faucets as in structured, a pipe had frozen.
The buzzing is now in my brain. The bees are questions now. Questions that are unanswerable.
Are all of our pipes frozen?
Will our pipes burst?
How long will it snow? How much snow will we get?
Will we lose electricity? If we do, what will we do? Where could we go?
The day progressed, and then there we were. Me staring at my phone scrolling through news of Texas’s descent into chaos, my husband beside me messaging his colleagues, and our daughter playing on the floor. Through hard work, our pipes are unfrozen with the help of our neighbors, extension cords, and space heaters. Through providence, we still had heat.
Sam’s been on and off his phone all day, taking care of his Marines. Making sure everyone had heat and some water (even if it’s bottled).
When we went for a short walk, we were surprised by the number of birds frozen to death in the well below freezing temperatures. Fluttering marks in the snow around the birds, indicated that all of them (although they were spread out throughout the neighborhood) had struggled.
When his phone rings, I hear his side of the conversation. I’m able to piece together the rest. The Marine who’s on duty (meaning he must stay overnight on base) has a wife. A Wife and two young children under the age of two. They have no power. They’ll have no water soon. This is when our eyes meet. The unasked question hangs between us.
“Hey man,” Sam says, “we have an extra room and electricity. Tell her to come on over.”
Again anxiety buzzes in my heart and my head.
What if they’ve been exposed to Covid?
Have they been safe?
What if they get us sick?
What if we get them sick?
What if we lose power?
What if we lose electricity?
What if we run out of food?
But there was calm in my soul.
If it was me in her situation, what would I want someone to do for me?
Only last week, it was my husband staying twenty-four hours on base, keeping others safe. It could’ve easily been me in her place and she in mine. What choice did we have but to welcome them into our home?
The next day our husbands left to get groceries, water, and other supplies. They did this not just for us, but for other families as well. Although almost ten inches of snow had fallen, the roads were not plowed or salted or even sanded. They did what needed to be done.
I sat at home, with a stranger and her children. As an introvert, I thought that it would be a struggle hosting them. However, we shared a love for the same movies and the same music. The art of cinema calemed us and bonded us. Music soothed us and our children. As the week progressed, they were able to go home. That same morning they left us, our water stopped working. Not because our pipes had burst, but because of multiple water main breaks throughout our city. Still music and movies calmed and comforted us. I read familiar books, I watched beloved movies, I listened to music I’ve enjoyed for years. We endured and even crafted laughter during the hardship.
The power and the blessing of art has never been so vivid to me, as it was in those difficult weeks.