It was one year ago today that it happened.
Around 6 in the morning on November 9th, 2006, I woke up to hear 9 year old Baby Bear making his noises. Still drowsy, I didn't want to get out of bed, and lolled for a while, dozing on and off before I decided I'd better get up and make sure the refrigerator door wasn't hanging wide open, and that he hadn't upended a jug of juice somewhere.
It was so much worse than that.
He was in the bathtub with his blanky (which acted as a plug for the drain), and the tub was overflowing all the way out of the bathroom, into the hall, the kitchen, and into the two rooms on either side of the bathroom--Baby Bear's bedroom and the home office I shared with Mr. Lucky. That room held not only the computer, but all my books.
And I have a lot of books. Hundreds.
Baby Bear seemed to be enjoying himself. He smiled and looked as if he were relaxing in a spa, totally oblivious to the disaster literally swirling all around him. How easily he could've slipped beneath the water and drowned!
God was obviously watching, but still I screamed: "NOOOHHH!!!!"
This alerted Mr. Lucky (and trust me, it takes a real scream to get him out of bed this early). He ran out buck naked and nearly slipped on the kitchen floor.
We hauled Baby Bear out of the tub. He was bright-eyed and laughing, happily stomping through the water on the floor.
Mr. Lucky pulled out the wet-dry vac and started sucking up what water he could. I lost count of how many trips he made to empty the tank outside. (Yes, he donned clothes before doing so.) He estimated 60 gallons of water were transferred from inside to outside, not counting what the water removal people sucked out when they showed up 3 hours later.
As a military family, we've made our share of moves over the years, and the onerous task of deshelving, packing, unpacking, and reshelving books has to be the worst thing about moving. When we bought this particular house with the idea that this would be our home after my husband retired from the military, I was certain I'd never to have to move any of my books again.
Alas, nothing in this world is certain, save for death, taxes, and the destruction wrought by my youngest child.
Fortunately, the bookcases were on the far side of the office, but the carpet was soaked a few inches short of them, and it had to be ripped up. Everything had to be removed from that room, and the Little Bear's bedroom.
As expected, the books were the worst. I learned that your average laundry basket doesn't hold very many mass market paperbacks. I didn't even bother to stack them neatly in another part of the house; I had to get them out of there before high tide at mid-morning. I just dumped them into a huge pile on the floor in another room. Many hours later, I finally found a use for that tall stack of brown paper grocery bags out in the garage, and bagged the paperbacks.
I also have hundreds of "coffee table" books. They were all shelved, because we simply don't have the space for all the coffee tables we'd need to display them.
We refugeed the books and shelves to the bedroom previously occupied by the Crown Prince, who'd moved out a few months previously. The Bear had to sleep in there until he could get his room back. Even this was a problem: He quickly discovered it was fun to remove books from the bookcases, and use the shelves as ladders. I'd like to think that keeping the heavier coffee table books on the lowest shelves prevented them from tipping over altogether, as seen in The Mummy.
I sometimes wonder if, on occasions like this, Mr. Lucky has ever lamented hitching up with a bibliophile who, when she's not reading likes to write, when he could've enjoyed a less stressful existence with a TV addict who spends most of the day watching soaps, talk shows, and Judge Judy.
Fortunately, our insurance company paid for the damage. It wasn't till the day before Thanksgiving, however, that new carpeting was installed (we put vinyl flooring--a sort of "faux hardwood"--in the Bear's bedroom), and everything could be put back to whatever constitutes "normal" in our household.
We did not move the books back to the office. The Crown Prince's old room became my own office and library.
The oddest thing of all? Only the day before this disaster, I told Mr. Lucky how glad I was we had the Bear; otherwise we'd have an empty nest now. . . and I'm just not ready for that yet.
Earlier this evening, Mr. Lucky himself mentioned how glad he was we had the Little Bear--and he cited the very same reason. He isn't ready for that empty nest, either. Maybe that's why he got the dogs--who, if we'd had them this time last year, would've surely alerted us to the brewing catastrophe. Heaven knows the Crown Prince, who has zero tolerance for the slightest upset in any routine, would've raised holy hell about it and hauled his brother out of the tub before he could even turn on the tap.
Sometimes I think we're gluttons for suffering. That might explain why I'm a writer . . . and why Mr. Lucky still keeps me as a wife.