I have been absent from here this past week. It was not an intentional absence. Sometimes the path we are following through life takes us some place unexpected, the consequences of which can be good, bad or a bit of both. Our life took an unexpected turn this week.
Last Saturday dawned like most others in the past month or so. We have had many storms recently, all those with names have hit my part of the world, Abigail, Barney and Clodagh. They have all merged in to one, at least that's what it has felt like, there were dry pauses but they were short. It has been all about rain and high winds most days. Then along came Desmond arriving on Friday [4th] afternoon bringing more high winds and rain which fell onto completely saturated ground.
We pottered about during the day, staying inside to escape the weather. The fire was lit, the house made cosy, Christmas cards were made, letters written. Outside the rain came down and down and down. The field over the road turned into lake, the road flooded as did our drive in places. In the end 14" fell in 24 hours.
That night I lay in bed listening to the wind howling and the rain lashing against the window, next to me lay Alice with a very high fever and breathing fast and shallow, between the two I couldn't sleep. I lay there knowing that I would need to go out and drive through the awful weather and at 2am that is what we did, driving a completely empty road, with only fallen lorries for company, abandoned on their sides like a scene a small child had created and left. The wind buffeted us as I drove slowly with my precious cargo towards the help we needed.
Lucky for us the first hospital was empty, we were seen straight away and an ambulance called within minutes we needed to be moved to a bigger one. My suspicions about the cause were confirmed, pneumonia. We spent four days confined to the corner of a room, we didn't need any more than that. The chaos in the outside world was shut out, too much for me to comprehend. When my husband asked me what I wanted him to bring for me do I requested a book. I couldn't contemplate anything else. In the end I only read a few pages, most of the time I just sat, still, in the moment.
We returned home on Thursday. Coming out of our cocoon like butterflies, except that it was a little grey and cold which is not what butterflies usually see when they emerge into the world, has been slow. Even the drive home was highly stimulating on the eyes. We are taking it slow, very slow. Alice still needs lots of rest but she is so much better than she was this time last week. I always want a very quiet Christmas and now we will be even quieter. There may be less presents, that is good too.
Whilst I come to terms with what has happened to Alice, I have been trying to comprehend the scale of the devastation caused by the weather. My beautiful county has been utterly devastated. So many houses flooded sometimes entire small communities. So many roads are closed damaged by flooding, landslides or because they have a bridge that has yet to be checked, there are hundreds. We were lucky to escape flooding. Whilst I was getting the help I needed on the phone my neighbours were outside until the early hours ensuring the defences they had built were holding, the water we were defending was run off from fields above our house.
But we are safe, warm and on the road to recovery. We are immensely thankful. Thankful that we have a free health service run by professionals who gave their all and more to help Alice. Thankful that Alice is home with us and we are a family again. Life has a new perspective and it's a good one.
So I guess you are wondering who Strawberry Brown is? Well she is that very sweet bear in the picture. She was given to Alice in the first hospital we visited by a kind and thoughtful nurse (she even checked her favourite colour first). She has been a constant companion to Alice this past week.