Last weekend I was like most other moms around the country, making sure I had some chocolate Easter treats for my kids and looking forward to spending time together on the upcoming long weekend. But that all changed on Monday when a huge storm hit Durban and left destruction in its wake. It’s been a very long week with so many challenges, and I have been left feeling numb from the shock and heartache of everything that has happened in just five days.
We spent the night fighting the relentless rain and torrents of mud, watching as parts of our garden and retaining walls washed away and wondering if we would have to wake our children in the middle of the night to evacuate. We discussed packing a go bag to make sure our valuable documents were safe and, with the looting disaster from just last year June still fresh in my mind, this brought back traumatic memories for me.
During a moment of sheer panic when the water was flowing all around us I placed a call to emergency services where the team helped me to remember that the only thing important was our lives and that the property and belongings were just that. At that stage the rescue teams were struggling to rescue people from collapsed houses and mudslides. Access roads were blocked, areas were flooded and still these brave men and women were out trying to save as many people as they could. Perspective.
The next morning once the rain slowed down a little and I surveyed the damage I counted my blessings that we hadn’t been forced to evacuate our home and that we were physically unharmed. Knowing what fear I had endured that night I can’t even begin to imagine how much more scared others had been. Reports started to come in that people had lost their lives in my community, some of them children.
We had a landslide and washed away road blocking our access, cars have been sunk in mud and the river, we have been five days without water and now we have no power too. Water is either sold out or being rationed at shops, and it’s the same situation with the petrol now too. But we are alive. And I find that despite all that is currently wrong at the moment I can’t even stop for a minute to be sad about it or feel miserable because people have lost loved ones.
I have cried so many tears this week, for people that I don’t know. But I feel as if their loss is my loss. This is my home, my community. I can’t understand why this terrible disaster has happened to us, why some families went to bed on Monday night and just never woke up or worse. I don’t have the answers, and I know I never will. But my heart is broken. I alternate between feeling too much with sobs that wrack my body and just feeling numb.
But life goes on, as it always does. So while I ache physically and emotionally and mentally, I put one foot in front of another. I sweep away mud and try to fill the holes dotted around my garden. I try to get some water and food for us, even though we’ve had to use a wheelbarrow to cart it to our house. I try to find the will to plan an Easter hunt for my children. Because that’s what mothers have to do. We keep on keeping on, even when we wonder how we will we find the strength because we are so very tired of all the challenges and of just trying to survive.
To the moms out there who are tired too. To those who cry once their children are asleep. To those who may not be able to provide the magic of Easter this year that they were hoping to. I see you. I understand you. You are not alone. You are doing your best. And you are enough.
Sending love to those affected by this flood. May brighter days be around the corner for us all. If you can help in any way to the thousands who have suffered this week please do, no matter how small if we all do a bit it will make a difference.