I'm popping back in for a few minutes to let my friends know that my family and I are OK.
(We live near Minneapolis, for the uninitiated. And now that you know that, you'll need to leave me your Social Security number in the comments so I can do a full background check and have a few friends in low places visit you at your home to stress the confidentiality of this information.)
(Which, in Minnesota, means I know people who drive a Harley, so watch out!)
We were in the Twin Cities Wednesday night during the bridge collapse. And in what must be one of the most unfortunate bits of timing ever, my cell phone battery died at 5:45 PM. Which means family and friends that were trying to get in touch with me after the 6:05 PM bridge collapse couldn't even get my phone to ring; they were shuttled straight to voice mail. That is a rare event for me and my cell phone, as it is always on and usually near my fingers. So you can imagine the temporary panic.
Thankfully, my sister managed to reach my husband's cell phone at 6:15 PM. We were sitting in Red Lobster (our daughter's new favorite restaurant due to all the cuteness and the newly discovered popcorn shrimp), waiting on some cheese biscuits. (No strawberry butter, alas, but I did think about it.)
Here is the conversation that followed. At this point, we were completely unaware of the tragedy that had happened just a few miles down the road.
Husband: Why is your sister calling my cell phone?
Me: Because my cell phone is dead. Here, let me take it. .... Hello?
Sister: (frantically) Are you OK?!?
Me: (amused) Ummm, yeah. My cell phone battery is just dead.
Sister: (not amused) No seriously. Are you OK?
Me: (dormant news gene kicking in) Yes. Why are you asking?
Sister: You haven't heard? The bridge on 35W just collapsed. There are cars in the water, a tanker truck is on fire. It's on the national news, everyone is breaking in -- FOX, CNN, everyone.
Me: WHAT?!? (Please understand how much I hate getting scooped on breaking news by my family.)
Sister: Turn and look at the TV in the bar.
That's when I saw the pictures. The devastation was worse than I had first imagined. And while I hadn't been on that particular stretch of freeway for the past few months -- the resurfacing work they were doing had closed the freeway from four lanes each way to two, which made for slow going at all hours -- I know it intimately. It's only a few minutes from the place where I grew up, and it's even closer to the church where my Dad pastored for 20 years. I literally have driven over that bridge hundreds if not thousands of times. How in the world did the whole stinkin' thing fall down?!?
At this point, it appears everyone I know in the Twin Cities is alive. And this morning, they are revising the number of people missing -- down to eight from 20 or 30. That leads me to believe the death toll will be less than 20, maybe even less than 15. Which is truly a gift from God, considering what happened.
Many of you sent me e-mails over the last few days, checking in to make sure we weren't affected by the tragedy. Thank you for your kindness and prayers. I was truly touched.
And now, we resume our regularly scheduled break. Seems like a good day to spend some quality time with my kids and husband, no? (And tonight, we go to the county fair! Rickety rides run by men with no teeth, greasy food-on-a-stick and more eau d'manure than this city girl thinks is right. But the kids count down to it all year, and the delight on their faces as they pet the gruff heads of the goats and bite into that corn dog and ride a rough bag down the huge slide is worth it.)