Thursday, April 14, 2011
Lessons from a Storm
It stormed today, and it is storming still. Not a few showers, but huge waves of rain, strong winds, and quite a bit of hail.
There were tornado sirens blaring when I walked out the door after work, so I abruptly turned back around and (very reluctantly) went back inside. My children were safe with my in-laws (and, undoubtedly, in the storm cellar), so I knew that I had to keep myself safe until the storm let up and I could get to them safely.
Any pretense of working evaporated as people congregated around computer screens to track the storm's progress. Other groups gathered around windows to gaze at the blackened sky. The thunder rumbled menacingly and vibrated the building. After about an hour of hunkering down, people began to brave the elements and venture home.
The drive to gather my children and head home alternated between clearing skies one moment and driving rains just a mile further down the road, but there comes a point when you decide that the only place you can be at the moment was home and damn the consequences. My husband sent a steady stream of messages to my phone encouraging me to be safe, and advising me of the weather conditions where he was...
Now, I love rain, I really do. I love all kinds of rain...the driving rain that beats against the windows and rattles them defiantly, the light drizzle that tickles the flesh, the huge cold drops of an autumn rain that hints at the first chills of winter, and the cooling summer showers that drive away the sweltering heat. But there is something about a storm that separates me from my family that makes me feel...helpless, and exposed, and unbearably vulnerable. Now, rationally, I realize that each and every member of my husband's family would lay down their life for my children without a second thought, and yet the idea of not being able to be there, to comfort them, and to see tangible evidence of their well-being causes me indescribable distress.
As I drove through the rain, ticking off each landmark as I pass by, driving--perhaps a bit faster than prudent--toward three tear-splotched faces, who rushed to meet me at the door with a barrage of "we were so worried" and "what took you so long" lamentations, I realized how much is left to something bigger than ourselves...whether we call it God, or Fate, or Chance...there are things over which we have no control, things that keep us awake at night, things which we do not speak of aloud for fear of inviting their inevitability.
For now, though, we are safe (knocking on wood). As the thunder crescendos outside, I tug the blankets a little tighter around three sleepy faces and smooth furrowed brows back into innocence. For now, we huddle a bit closer, mumble another prayer, and wait for the clear skies of morning.