My parents, husband, son, and I traveled to New Jersey for the first night of Passover at the end of March 2010. My Aunt Ruthie and Uncle Vinton hosted the first seder at their home, a colonial-era farmhouse. Their dining room was in the oldest part of the house, which only added to the timeless nature of the seder.
Various cousins were in attendance, including a third cousin of mine on the Breitowich (my mother's mother's mother's) side and a 2nd cousin once removed on the Cohen (my mother's father's mother's) side. I think it was the only seder where we had such a broad representation of our family tree!
I was just 9 weeks pregnant, but we had had our "viability" ultrasound which showed a little bean with a strong heartbeat so we were feeling pretty confident. I shared the news a little but kept it mostly quiet, and spent most of the trip just trying to keep my nausea in check.
Probably the most memorable part of the trip was the return the following day. It was raining hard, but we didn't think much about the weather until we crossed the state line into Rhode Island. It quickly became apparent that water was everywhere. All alongside the highway we could see standing water, and traffic slowed to a crawl. We tried some side roads but then returned to I-95. We passed slowly through the middle of the state and eventually made it off the highway at our exit, only to have to try about five different routes to make it all the way to our home. Everywhere we turned roads were closed , and we learned later that only about a half an hour after we got of I-95, it too was closed.
The only other time I had experienced flooding like that was when I was seven years old and we were spending the year in Cambridge, England. The Cam River overflowed its banks that year, and I have vivid memories of not being able to pedal my bike through some huge puddles and almost losing my boots in the rush of the water. That time I thought the flood was fun and exciting. In 2010, I had an entirely different perspective, especially when, a month later, I took a walk in the neighborhood where I went for prenatal massage, and found myself in a section that had been severely affected by the flood. House after house had condemned signs on their doors.
I have found that being pregnant makes me turn inwards, and because my pregnancy with Halia was always physically challenging, I was even more withdrawn. The flood reminded me to pay attention to the world around me, to look with utter amazement at the sheer volume of water, and to open my heart to the many people whose homes and lives were ruined by the flood waters.
Day 12 of 31, 8 Cheshvan 5774