What Three Days Without Running Water Taught Me About Being Thankful

Marianna McMullen

Just a few weeks ago, my family was winding down from enjoying a beautiful Sunday together. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and we spent most of it outdoors enjoying the sunshine and breeze. Just as I was getting our toddler, Samuel, ready for his bath I heard what sounded like bacon sizzling in a pan.

“Brian, are you making bacon?” I called confusedly. No answer. Something seemed odd so I picked Sam up and when I walked past the basement door the sound got louder. I ran downstairs, toddler in hand, and when we turned the corner we saw water raining down from the ceiling. It looked like it was spraying out of every pipe - an absolute down-pour! Sam started crying and yelling fearfully, “Water! Waaaaaater!”. 

As I stood there gaping with my mouth open, my husband ran and turned the water off, putting an end to our indoor storm. 

Thankfully, most of the water had been contained in our cement storage room  which has drains in the floor. In places where the water managed to seep out into the main rooms, we ripped up the carpet and strategically placed fans to help it dry.

Since we’re in the middle of a pandemic, we had to wait a few days before a plumber could come. That meant we were without running water. 

Those three days really tested me!

One thing that really helps me feel set and ready for each new day is to start with a clean kitchen from the night before. My husband and I have a nightly routine, and part of that routine includes washing dishes.

Kind of hard to do without running water.

As each day passed, it felt like our house was getting dirtier and dirtier. This was despite our efforts to use minimal dishes, wipe things down with a damp cloth, etc, as we tried to use our bottled water sparingly.

I never realized what a luxury it is to be able to flip on the water to wash our hands or dishes, to be able to flush a toilet, or step into the shower. Each drop of water we had felt so precious.

In that short time span we felt like we were living in “filth”, making it hard to concentrate on our other tasks like work because of the forced change in the state off our household hygiene. Life felt so unsettled - all because of a lack of water!

The saying, “You don’t know what you got til it’s gone” never felt more real to me.

As difficult as this experience was, I just kept thinking to myself “some people live like this every single day” and I couldn’t help but feel immensely grateful that this was not my family’s reality.

When I was growing up, my family always said morning prayers together. On the weekends when my dad was home from work, he always added a “Thanksgiving Prayer” to our routine. We all had to take turns listing specific things from each day that we were thankful to God for. I always rolled my eyes at this practice as a teenager, mostly because it took prayer time a bit longer than usual. But now, in the face of adult realities, I’m so thankful that this was part of our family prayer rule. It really instilled in me the importance of giving thanks to God—for everything, no matter how “small”.

Even in times when it feels like there isn’t much to feel thankful for—like when in quarantine in the middle of a pandemic—there is still so much to thank Him for! We have access to fresh food every week, our packages still arrive at our doorstep, our lights turn on and off, we have air conditioning and heating, clean water flows freely from our faucets, we have a home. We are so blessed! As frustrating as this time has been in quarantine, our life has really continued on as usual in so many ways. And for that, I give thanks. 

By the way, when the plumber finally arrived, I could have kissed his hands. I was so grateful he was there! But don’t worry, I kept my social distancing!


Marianna McMullen is the Media Coordinator for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Center for Family Care.