What a topsy-turvy week. And I mean that literally.
Post-Hurricane Irma activity in Tampa has been a whirlwind (bad pun intended) of circling back on yourself and getting nowhere fast. On top of cleaning up knee-high yard debris, fridges that stubbornly refuse to work without electricity, and trying to save infant squirrels orphaned by downed 100-year-old oaks, I had to hit the packed highway to speak at a long scheduled writing conference in Nashville.
I was a salmon headed upstream amid the wall-to-wall downstream evacuee-returners; we were all competing for the same gasoline at stations that hadn’t yet recovered from the pre-hurricane frenzy. It was like a steroidal blue light special at K-Mart.
Sadly, my sister, who had planned to accompany me on this road trip for a much-needed girls time out had to stay home (we all live in the same neighborhood) to keep an eye on my 90-year-old father, who had taken a tumble the day before the hurricane and fractured his hip in two places.
So I was on my own for 1,500 miles behind the steering wheel.
Praise Papa God for audio books. And caffeine.
But that’s not the purpose of this story. This is merely background for the amazing thing that took place on my drive back home from Nashville.
I had broken the trip up into a 5-hour drive and a 6-hour drive, spending the night betwixt with some dear friends in rural Alabama, Julia and Steve. I arrived at their house at supper time, and met them at a greasy spoon restaurant near their house to down fried potatoes, fried dill pickles, and fried fish. (Note the naughty common denominator there, something that I rarely – like never – consume … fried foods.)
Turning in early that night from sheer exhaustion, I noticed a strange unsettledness in my belly. Pretty soon it turned into an Irma of its own and about 2 a.m. my gut exploded in every direction. I had nothing forthwith to stymie the flood and just couldn’t bring myself to awaken my hosts (and their daughter and itsy bitsy grandkids who were visiting) in the middle of the night. So I soldiered on until 4:00, when I must’ve entered the eye of the storm.
Thinking, “Well, it seems to have abated now, and since there’ll obviously be no sleep tonight, I’ll just go ahead and get an early start.” I simply had to get home for an important appointment the following morning that could not be rescheduled so more time to prepare tonight would be terrific.
So I tippy-toed around packing my things and lugged it all out to the car, being careful not to slam any doors to awaken the household.
Whew. Looks like I made it.
Stuck my key in the ignition, and turned. Crack. What in the world? The ding-dang key broke right off, leaving the metal part in the ignition and the plastic remote in my hand. Are you KIDDING me? I’d just driven last night and the key wasn’t the slightest bit loose.
Then suddenly the eye of Hurricane Irma-gut passed on by and she resumed her fury with full force.
High-tailing back to the bathroom, I tripped over not one but two sets of steps in the dark and did something wicked to my right knee.
Okay, I had to admit to Papa God, apparently for some reason You don’t want me on the road at 4 a.m.
So I stayed put. And kept praying. I felt an odd peace about the whole thing. Every time I tried to figure out what to do about the broken key, the appointment I could not miss, the internal hurricane I could not ignore … a still, small voice whispered to my heart, “Chill, Deb. I’ve got this.”
Then about 5 a.m. I heard Julia close the bathroom door. I pounced as she exited, scaring her half out of her mind. She was able to locate me some Immodium and other storm-settling meds. Steve heard us piddling around and padded out in his grown-man jammies and sleep-tousled hair to see what was going on. He made short work of dismantling and rescrewing my key/remote back together and Lord willing and the creek don’t rise (it didn’t), me and Willie were on the road again by 6:00.
Despite a few bleary-eyed stretches of highway that I don’t remember traversing, I arrived home safe and sound.
I’ve wondered many times what would have/could have happened if I had actually made it on the highway at 4 a.m. Would a speeding car running a red light have turned my trip into a tragedy? Would a freight train have plowed into me at that unmarked crossing I bumped over in the sticks of rural Alabama? Would I not have been able to find an open gas station and ended up languishing beside the road … a solitary woman target?
Speculation will never answer the question and I’ve concluded that I really don’t need an answer. All I need to know is that for whatever reason, Papa God did not want me out there at that particular time and He orchestrated events to keep me from going.
Trust. I’ll gratefully take it any day over ignorantly sticking to my own plans and battling my own ‘canes.
Dear BBFF (Blessed Blog Friend Forever), when was a time when Papa God overruled your plans?