My Miracle Of the Year 2004
There is only one day left in the year 2004. Up until the early hours of December 18th, I had mostly been reflecting on how hard this year has been on me. On December 17th, I was invited for a Pacific News holiday party in San Francisco. My friend and AMV Community Outreach Director, Samina Gardezi attended the party with me. After that we caught up on everything from politics to our kids. By the time I came home it was 12:30 am. As soon as I entered the house I realized that something was wrong. I asked my daughter if she had turned off the heater. She said no but she was so busy setting up the table for her guests for her Christmas brunch that she did not feel cold. This was the first big event my daughter had planned and was planning to do everything by herself since I had committed to helping my friend cook lunch for her forty guests who were in town to attend her daughter's wedding.
Earlier that evening my daughter called me to ask if she should boil the eggs or bake the bread at that time to have less things to do in the morning. I suggested to her that it would be better to do those things in the morning so they would be fresh and hot but she could do other things like set the table and choose her clothes so she does not waste time on those things in the morning. I am so glad that she called me about that as she is always busy in the kitchen trying new recipes. When I came home, I chatted with her for a while and then went to the kitchen to get a drink of water. I felt a chill again and realized that there is no hot water either. I decided to check on the water heater and the furnace. As soon as I opened the door to go to the basement, I could smell the gas. I tried to look for the flashlight but could not find one with new batteries. I proceeded to go downstairs into the basement but before I reached the second to last step, I stepped right into the chilling water. I came back upstairs and must have had a terrified look because my daughter asked me what was wrong and then saw my wet clothes. I told her that our basement is flooded. We found a flash light and tried to shut off our water and gas but did not succeed. At that moment all I could think about was my daughter and how grateful I was that she called me to ask about baking the bread and boiling the eggs. Our kitchen is close to the basement and if she had turned the stove or the oven on, it could have been a big disaster. Overwhelming feelings of joy and helplessness released yet another flood, this one not destructive at all. Who do you call at 1:10 am to fix this disaster? I went out to see if I could find a neighbor who might be up but my small peaceful town was quiet, as it should be at that hour. My daughter and I looked at each other, wondering what we were going to do. I gave her a hug and out of nowhere came the answer: don't worry; as long as we are okay, we can do anything. I called the City of Palo Alto Utilities, fully prepared to leave a message but was pleasantly surprised to hear a calm reassuring voice. He listened and provided assistance. After hanging up I started my prayer to thank Allah (my Creator) for saving my daughter and my home. Ten minutes later i heard a knock. I was not expecting anyone to be at my door so soon. When I opened the door the gentleman introduced himself as Tom from City of Palo Alto Utilities. I felt a big wave of relief and showed him the basement. He was stunned by the depth of the water and had to go back to dress appropriately for the situation. After shutting off our gas and water, he immediately called the fire department. All four trucks came to rescue us under the leadership of their Captain named Doug. They were there until 3:00 am. We had almost 18 inches of water in our basement. Our things were floating everywhere. That night we lost several things but I learned more about the kind of city I live in and the excellent service and the tranquility they provide in times of distress. And my daughter learned firsthand what to do in such an emergency.
My daughter asked if she should cancel her brunch and if I was going to be able to honor my commitment to my friend when we had neither heat nor hot water. I assured her that there are many people in the world who do not have access to running hot water but they are able to do everything. It will be more time consuming but we can do it. We both went to bed at 3:45 am and got up at at 8:00 am to honor our commitments.
We were without hot water for few days and had to go to a hotel for a warm room to sleep in and warm showers. Because of the holidays, our furnace has still not been fixed. However, we have each other and we are feeling warm because of the love we hold for each other, and of course because of the space heaters our insurance had provided us.
At that very moment, I realized that all the financial hardship I faced this year, all the political disappointments that set us back and all the uphill battles we are facing trying to protect our civil liberties and constitutional rights are bearable as long as we have our loved ones, friends, food, shelter, clothes, each other and peace within our souls. My children are my world and the thought of losing them is unbearable. I feel the pain of all the mothers who have lost their children from all ends of the earth, especially in the senseless wars and hateful violent attacks against other human beings.
We are helpless when it comes to the natural disasters like the tsunami that battered many parts of Southeast Asia and wiped out over a hundred thousand people. Millions are homeless and many more may die because of the germs and contaminated water. When faced with disasters like that, we should try that much harder to not hurt each other intentionally. We should become a buffer to soften the blow of the natural disasters we have no control over.
Please do all you can to help the tsunami victims.
Samina Faheem Sundas
Executive Director of the American Muslim Voice
January 1, 2005