This week, Texas was under siege. Not at the Alamo, reminiscent of the battle for independence nearly two centuries ago. Not by a microscopic virus which has claimed over forty thousand lives to date in our state. Texas was under attack by ice, snow, and bitter cold, with record-setting freezing temperatures.
Nine days ago, I set out to deliver Meals on Wheels just as I always do on Friday mornings. En route to the church where I pick up the meals for delivery, a wintry mix began to land on my windshield. I was grateful in that moment that I had bundled up so tightly. Granny’s calf-length wool coat, a scarf, Isotoner gloves and a beanie. My mask would serve double duty as a face warmer.
When I arrived at the drop site and retrieved my list, I noticed nine names on it instead of my regular six. Of all the days, I thought to myself. My hope was to visit all of my usual clients as quickly as possible and get back to my warm house. As my mind went to the headlines already swirling around this storm, I was immediately humbled.
Thirty hours earlier, six people lost their lives driving to work. Of all the days to have to collect a paycheck. Of all the days to lose a loved one.
I quickly flipped my mental script and embraced the opportunity to meet three new people who needed my help to receive a hot meal. Out of concern tinged with annoyance, I called one of them after knocking for five minutes, sleet settling on the shoulders of my coat and on my face. She opened the door with one hand while leaning on her walker with the other, compression sleeves tightly binding her swollen legs. I offered to call her the next week when I left the first house, giving her time to baby step her way to the front door. When my teddy bear of a client presented me with a Valentine’s Day card a few stops later, I was reminded why I do this.
Unfortunately, the snow storm would soon make the entire state of Texas homebound like my clients. On Sunday, as the large flakes fell and neighbors squealed in delight outside, it was a sight to behold. By Monday, residents were shivering in their homes. By Wednesday, pipes had frozen solid. The thaw which began Thursday just exacerbated the situation, as water rained down from sheet rock ceilings and bubbled up from broken water mains in city streets. Potability was wiped away in an instant.
All week, I waited for disaster to strike at our house. Our power remained on. Short of a frozen kitchen sink, our water flowed. I was grateful, but also saddened with each new friend who announced a crisis. Our dog frolicked in the backyard, rolling his snout around in the cold powder. He bounced around like a puppy. I wanted to enjoy the snow as much as he was, throwing snowballs or building a snowman. All I could think about was the sheer terror of so many friends and family who were cold and hungry.
This delivery from Mother Nature was as bittersweet as the moment I finished my book. At the onset of the storm, I hunkered down to finish my second draft. I was two weeks behind my intended deadline for advance reading, so I was desperate to end the weekend with a version ready for the outside world, not just my editor.
I sat down at the computer by 7 a.m. on Saturday. My eyes felt crossed by the time I finished at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday. Every fiber in my body wanted to jump for joy and do cartwheels across the living room. I settled for a bubble bath, too exhausted for much else.
The next morning, as excited as I was to be “pencils down”, I worried about sending it off to my small group of beta readers. Self doubt crept in, reminding me how much work was still to be done. I tweaked a few more passages before emailing links. Excited to have a printed manuscript to be hand-delivered to one of them, I learned trucks had stopped running. The snow was set to ravage her city as well.
Just like at the onset of the pandemic, news anchors finally began to share stories of hope. Neighbors who cooked for entire neighborhoods. Big, rough and tumble men taking their well-equipped trucks out to deliver groceries. And me, sitting quietly in my morning chair, praying for the safety of loved ones.
I hope that this storm is a once-in-a-lifetime event. As Texans struggle to put it behind them, I am reminded of the fortitude that exists in our state. My grandmother walked to school in a storm that left her coat standing frozen upright in a coat closet. She is the true north for my author’s journey. The world needs all the sunshine it can get.
“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” ~Moliere