I think we’re all already in tornado shell-shock from what’s been happening around the country lately. I go between looking at pictures and praying and crying for the people involved, and having to shut the paper because I can’t look anymore.
I had Michelle here with me in case I had to take kids in the basement. You never think that the worst will actually happen and I was convincing myself that it was just a precaution. But after hearing the warnings all morning and watching the sky turn green I knew it couldn’t hurt to have extra hands here. Plus a friend to take my mind off things. (And yes, protect me. Thanks Mich.)
I’d been worried all afternoon because I just wanted my kids home. Older was on a school field trip, riding a school bus right up the corridor where the tornado would touch down a few hours later. Younger was at school and I was at home with day care kids, feeling helpless if anything did happen. I needed my kids with me. Thank God they made it here safe and sound before the worst hit.
All we got here at the house was a lot of wind and rain, and it passed pretty quickly. We were relieved and joking around when Dave tried to call me four times in a row. I could hear him saying “Can you hear me?” over and over and I was yelling back at him. I tried to call him back and went to voicemail. I yelled “Figure out how to use your phone!” at some point. Michelle was half-teasing, half-serious when she asked if I had the mute on.
We went back to work and about twenty minutes later Dave burst in. “Do you have any idea what’s going on? Turn on the TV!”
And there we saw the video of the tornado hitting the river and flipping over trucks a few hundred yards away from where Dave was driving home.
The good news was we were all safe and the worst was over, and day care was still happening and there were kids to feed and change and send home. But at some point I had to stop and think, and the first thought I had was, What if that ridiculous phone call was the last time I’d heard my husband’s voice?
To top it off it was Younger’s birthday, and at some point Older came running in yelling that Younger had lost a tooth. What else? What else can happen today? I can only handle so much!
So I wrapped presents and Dave watched more news (away from the kids because we didn’t want to scare them) and we went out to birthday dinner even though we both felt pretty leery about going out before the storms were really over.
A hailstorm hit as we were driving home and the water was just pouring down. The wind was blowing and I eyed the 200-year-old, 40-foot tall, 12-foot round pine tree in my yard. If it ever goes… but at the same time, the trees protected some people I know by taking the brunt of the storm away from their house.
Of course we’d left windows open and the water was forming pools under each one. The boys helped me run around with towels mopping them up. Older was very upset that the couch was drenched and I told him it’s really NOT A BIG DEAL. As I wiped a puddle off a windowsill I thought, I still have a windowsill.
On Wednesday night I tucked my kids into their own beds. As I read to Younger I felt a warmth that I hadn’t noticed in a while. It was the comfort of home and safety and luckily, for me, today – security. I remembered what my father said when he called to make sure we were all safe after the storm: We are the blessed ones.
As I brought the kids to school yesterday I thought about what would happen if my home was flattened. I wouldn’t just lose my home, I’d lose my job. Everything I have revolves around this house. You always think first about what would be lost – all the pictures and memories, do I grab the laptop with the photos on it or my purse as I run out the door? (Preferably both, but after the kids and the cat.) But then you think about, what happens after? How do you go on from something that devastating?
I remembered a resident of New Orleans after Katrina who said the day after the storm that destroyed her town, she was sitting in the rubble of her back yard watching a spider re-build its web. She was struck by how nature just goes on, unphased by disaster. And we go on as well. The day after the storm it was a beautiful, sunny day and we were off to Boston for dad’s graduation. Life goes on – like I hope we would be able to if the worst happened.