In Swimming To Work, Michael Homan writes of “travelling” in New Orleans a few days after the levees broke.
A year ago today I swam from my flooded house to Xavier University. It’s not something I would recommend. I saw several dead bodies and the scenes still sort of haunt me. I wrote a note about my name, address, and contact info for my parents in Nebraska, and put it in a plastic bag and duct taped it around a string that I wore around my neck. Looking back on it I wish I had brought my camera … Sometimes people would shine a flashlight on me from their house, just to see if I was a troublemaker or whatever. It was pretty scary. Today I’m in Omaha, visiting my mother.
Michael’s recollection reminds me of my father’s final days as a prisoner in a makeshift camp after the Iraqis invaded Kuwait in 1990. Twitching in pain as stomach ulcers flared, Dad wrote out a will on his undershirt, and remained in that shirt until he made it out to safety 24 days after he was first incarcerated.
Love is such a strange thing. Even when faced with great personal peril, the brain’s instinct is to communicate to those closest to you. That your fate is known to a loved one, that personal matters are taken care of, that closure is achieved.
If my name is upon my chest,
Tell my mama I’ve done my best
This makes me think of our boys and girls in Iraq, too.
I’m incredibly thankful that my father and Michael are still here with us today. Life cuts both ways.