My children started school on Sept 7th. That morning, they waited for the bus in the pouring rain. The bus was late. I brought out an umbrella. When the bus finally came, the umbrella wouldn’t close, so I took it, sure that it wouldn’t still be raining when the kids returned. I was wrong. It continued to rain throughout the day and into the night. I woke up at some point, realizing the power had gone off. And it was still raining. I couldn’t fall back asleep. I remembered the flood of 2006, supposedly a “hundred year flood”. But this time, I felt the uneasy sense that something more terrible was happening.

Sadly, my gut was right. It was another “hundred year flood” but this time it was much worse. My family and I are among the lucky ones. Our hillside neighborhood became an island as the main road below us flooded. We lost power for five days (which is why I wasn’t around last Saturday) and are still having to boil our water, but our house is fine. Meanwhile, entire neighborhoods have been ravaged. We know many people whose homes have been seriously damaged and some who lost them entirely.

I strongly believe in facing reality. For many in our area, this means doing the work it takes to recover. For lucky ones like me, it means helping. Yesterday I joined a church group to help a member clean up. It felt good to be with my friends and it felt good to be useful.

But sometimes the reality just gets too overwhelming. There are times when one has to escape, at least for short time.

During the first days of the crisis, my family and I were safe and dry, but isolated, with only the radio to keep us informed of the unfolding tragedy. I tried to keep things as normal and cheerful as possible. We spent a lot of time reading, writing and crocheting. I figured out how to grill things I’d never grilled before (scalloped potatoes au gratin, even). We played Scrabble by candlelight.

Now that we’re past the crisis and into the long recovery, my friends and I are still feeling very anxious. One of us recently posted a reminder on Facebook that we all need to take breaks to have a cup of tea, do a puzzle, listen to music or escape into a good book. It’s one of the reasons I write. Creativity is healing. We all need art, songs and stories to sustain us.

When life becomes too sad and scary, what are your healthy escapes?