There are two ways into Keithsburg, Illinois. You come in by the cemeteries, one gate for Protestants, one for Catholics, or you come in from the north, and to your left, you see a long, narrow park along the creek that dumps into the Mississippi.
My co-worker’s house was there, on that street. She lost it when they blew the levee to flood the town, to save the town. That’s how it worked. Sacrifice as much as you can stand, to save as much as you’re able. The town was under water for six weeks.
Even a year later, you could drive around town and see the high water marks on the buildings.
The part that tears me up, even now, to think about it, is how they lost the First Christian Church and my co-worker described how the Amish and the Mennonites showed up to build them a new one.
I get annoyed by a lot of Christian bullshit, but that’s the kind of Christianity that can bring a girl to her knees, strangers coming down the bluff and doing back breaking labor because that’s just what you do.
We took cookies over to the National Guard at Quincy. I can’t remember if this was right after or right before someone sabotaged the levee on the Missouri side. It was terrible, but it was so hard to blame folks, if you had seen the water stretching across the highway or if you’d climbed up onto the overpass and saw the roofs of houses under brown water.
It’s not hard to see why those folks would insist the folks on the Missouri side share in the suffering.
I’m trying to decide if I’m going to watch Spike Lee’s Katrina film. I probably will for a little bit, at least. It’s hard. On the one hand, I’ve seen enough already to last me a lifetime. On the other hand, sometimes you owe it to people to let them spread their sorrows around, so that they don’t have to carry that weight all on their own.