Before the world was in the throes of a pandemic i got my water from a dispenser plugged in outside the gas station near my property. When that was out of order there was another one sitting outside the grocery store in town. When they came down with the decree that everyone should stand 6 feet apart from each other they took the dispensers. They loaded them up on trucks and drove away. They said they didn’t want to have to send store employees to supervise the cueing of people in the parking lot to get water. So i had no choice but to buy bottled water. Well, that was difficult. People were panicking. People who were hooked up to city water were buying up all the bottled water in mass quantity as soon as the trucks arrived. I lived in the country with a well; a sulfur well. The water was good to give to thirsty plants but no good for humans and animals to drink. It would cause epic diarrhea and eventually lead to death via dehydration. However, when the supply trucks arrived at the grocery i was at work caring for my patients. By the time i made it to the grocery in the afternoon there wasn’t any water left. When there was they were single bottles, usually Dasani, and every customer was only allowed one. So, i could buy 1 single serve bottle of water (if it existed on the shelf that day) for myself, 2 dogs, and 6 chickens to split. I watched as my six 3-gallon containers of reserve water were gradually emptied by my little family. I was without water. I didn’t know what to do. There was no fire station you could report to during this time where you could say, “Please, i’m out of water.” Especially if you were a healthcare worker; no one wanted to be near you. You could be infected. I thought about going to the river, collecting water in my 3-gallon jugs, hauling it back to the property, and boiling it to make it drinkable. The problem was, boiling the river water would kill the algae and bacteria but it wouldn’t filter out the chemical waste that i knew was in there. The river water had long been contaminated and i had never in my life lived some place where the rate of cancer was so high in the population. High school students and even toddlers were fighting and sometimes losing their battle with cancer. To drink the river water would be a slower death than to drink sulfur water but a death just the same in the end. I wracked my brain for what to do. In the end, it was God that solved the problem, not me. I began buying as much coconut water as i could. There was no purchasing limit on coconut water because nobody really knew what it was. They usually had it in stock because it wasn’t an item on peoples radar to stock pile. I lived on coconut water alone as a hydration source for a few weeks. My dogs and chickens needed something to drink as well. It was then that the rains began. God gave me rain daily for two straight weeks while i was waiting for the filter my grandmother had ordered me to arrive. Every day it rained and every day i nestled my four glass cookware containers in the sticks of my fire pit outside. Every day i dragged my horse-feed bucket that i had used the last of the bleach to sanitize onto the concrete driveway of the toolshed and left it. When the rain died down in the evening i would scurry out to the fire pit and the shed driveway to pick the leaves and twigs out of the water collected. Then i would pour it into my two plastic pitchers that i kept in the refrigerator and replenish the dogs’ water bowl and the chickens’ water dispenser with the rain; gifted from the heavens.
My grandmother saved us in the end. The filter arrived in the mail; a small, life-sustaining tool that rendered undrinkable water drinkable. It could filter half a gallon at a time. It took the raw water from the well, removed the sulfur, and 30 minutes to 2 hours later, depending on how recently i had changed the little cylindrical filter insert, the water had moved from the top to the bottom compartment and was now perfectly safe. I was determined to make the filter inserts last as long as i could so even when it took 2 hours to filter water i didn’t throw the insert out and put in a new one. I kept using it and just made sure that i was always in some stage of filtering water to keep the jugs filled. I began to recognize that i was becoming possessive of things like the water filter. Even after i had received it i still put the collection containers out and filled the pitchers whenever it rained. I was becoming like my patients who had lived through the great depression. I remembered the uncertainty of not having a water source for any of my animals and there would be no wasting of anything that could be rendered drinkable. In some ways, i became a different person and i didn’t always recognize her.