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August 23, 2014 / 27 Av, 5774
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A Long Night’s Journey

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It had been raining intermittently all day, and by nightfall the rain had become relentless. My husband and I had spent Shabbos at our daughter’s house and she urged us to stay overnight. But as much as we enjoyed spending time with her and her family, it was time to go home; we like to sleep in our own beds. Besides, I was never afraid to drive in the rain. It’s snow that is my enemy, and I stay out of its way.

So that night we started out in the heavy rain, driving from Long Island to Brooklyn. The local streets were not too bad, but as we reached the Belt Parkway we drove into a torrential downpour. My husband turned on the radio to listen to the weather and traffic advisory. It reported heavy flooding on the highways, especially on parts of the Belt Parkway we were on. Drivers were cautioned to avoid those roads. It looked like people followed the advice because there were very few cars in sight.

Sheets of water cascaded down from the sky. I slowed to 20 miles per hour, and even that seemed hazardous.

“Do you want to turn around?” my husband asked nonchalantly. He didn’t want to spook me by sounding too concerned.

I would have loved to turn around, but had no idea where the next exit would lead us, and I did not relish the thought of getting lost in those weather conditions.

“I think we will be fine,” I said, but the back of my neck started to knot up in a cramp. The visibility was close to zero. The windshield wipers were doing their crazy dance, giving me split-second segments of the view of the road ahead. It did not help me too much. All I saw was water. It covered the dividing lines between the lanes, so I did not even try to stay in my lane. Thankfully there were no other cars near me. As the tires ripped through the flooded road, a barrage of water crashed into the sides of the car. It felt like we were wading through a river. The only sounds I heard were the relentless swooshing of the windshield wipers and the recurring crashes and explosions of the floodwater. We trampled through it, with the deluge of water pellets attacking the car from above.

My head was pounding, my back got stiff, and my knuckles hurt from gripping the steering wheel too tightly. I never experienced anything like this before. I was concentrating so intensely that I barely heard my husband’s occasionally encouraging voice.

“We don’t have too far to go anymore.” “You are doing just fine.” “We are almost home.”

I just prayed silently to Hashem, asking Him to guide us home safely.

The rain did not let up, even when we finally reached our home. Thankfully we found a parking space across the street from our apartment building. By then I felt like my body was on autopilot, completely detached from my mind. I stopped the car, switched the gearshift into park and gave it no further thought. As if in a dream I watched my husband take out our luggage and followed him like a zombie into the elevator. We got drenched just crossing the street. Water was seeping into my coat and shoes but I was too exhausted to care. I didn’t even have the energy to feel relieved that we arrived safely. I dragged myself into our apartment, and with great effort changed out of my wet clothing and fell into bed. In a few minutes I was in blessed oblivion.

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