Weathering the Storm

I love a good storm. I’ve lived in the Midwest my entire life so I’ve had plenty of exposure. There’s nothing like the adrenaline rush from standing under a swirling, heaving and swelling black sky until the very last second of safety remains, the moment dutifully signaled by the hair on my arms and neck rising to attention. And the confusing sensation as gusts of both hot and cold air lash at my body in alternating patterns… And the sound of the deep, rolling thunder like a drum as it echoes across the plains. Sometimes I can literally feel it roll over me. Then suddenly, there will be a spontaneous break in the clouds as the setting sun forces its way through the fray, the sunset and sometimes even a rainbow juxtaposing gleaming, silvery white thunderheads bubbling over the dark cauldron above. The birds instantly sing as if to mock the angry skies.

For  some reason, storms have become a herald to all of the major events throughout my adult life. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized the significance of the storms in these pivotal milestones of mine. Allow me to set the stage. It’s a big stage for an epic tale.

We had a hell of a reception on our wedding night. It was so much fun and absolutely beautiful, literally everything I’d hoped for as a young bride. After a fantastic evening, my husband and I headed home. (We left town the following day.) There we were at nearly midnight, both standing in the bathroom of our tiny 3rd floor apartment. I was still semi-wearing my gown. The top was folded over the skirt at my waist while my husband began the monumental task of pulling the 12,306 bobby pins out of my hair. That’s when we heard the sirens. Wide-eyed and half-dressed I whipped around to face him. “No.” Yes, actually. “Are you ****ing kidding me?” I quickly changed out of my dress while he found a local meteorologist reporting on a funnel cloud moving from the downtown area of our reception site where some of our family & friends were still cleaning up decorations! It was heading toward our apartment. We ended up seeking shelter in a garden level apartment with several of our neighbors. Once the all-clear was issued, we joked about what a tornado on our wedding night might signify. The looks on everyone’s faces were priceless as it dawned on them and someone said, “Ah HA! That explains why you guys look so fantastic considering it’s the middle of the night!”

The next seven years remained relatively uneventful in terms of milestones. There were plenty of storms including the one my husband and I got caught in downtown and told each other goodbye because we were convinced we were going to die. But the next big storm/life event came in the summer of 2007. I was very pregnant. I was asleep in our bedroom at one end of our 2-story house while my husband was in the office at the other end. The rain poured down and the wind was fierce. Suddenly, the house shook and there was a terrible noise. Then everything went pitch black. Frantic, my husband quickly helped me out of bed and down the stairs to the main floor. Debating whether we needed to continue on to the basement, I looked out of the kitchen window to see one of the eeriest sights of my life. Part of one of our HUGE trees from the backyard was IN our back porch. It was an overwhelming sight to see something that massive so clearly out of place. It was pressing hard again the house and windows. Its shiny wet leaves were rustling in the wind sending back tiny reflections of lightning and the neighbor’s flood lights. I opened the back door and it was literally at my feet while still towering over me. Some of it’s smaller branches sprung into the kitchen when I opened the door. It had hit the house, knocked out the electrical riser and took out our back porch. “Oh my gawd.” Three days later, our son was born.

Four years later, 9 months pregnant with my second son, we were at our friends’ house for dinner when severe weather popped up and prevented us from grilling on the deck. We decided to bring out the appetizers while we waited it out. The kids played and we had a great time. Then those damn sirens sounded. “Here we go again.” True to their Midwestern roots, the guys stood on the porch and watched the funnel cloud move right over the house while “the women and children” sheltered in the basement bathroom. (Really, we would have probably been outside too if we weren’t so concerned about setting a good example for the kids.) Three days later, our second son was born. But it doesn’t stop there. While I was in labor, wind and rain battered the hospital windows. Suddenly a nurse presented herself in the delivery room and suggested I might want to mentally prepare myself. The weather was looking bad, and if certain criteria was met, my bed would be moved to the hallway where I would likely give birth. Between contractions, I muttered something along the lines of, “Of course. I’m not surprised.” Ultimately, the weather cooperated and I didn’t have to give birth at the nurse’s station.

Four years later (Sept 2015), I had pretty extensive foot surgery. They had given me too much anesthesia so my blood pressure and heart rate were too low to start on pain meds right away which meant I missed my “stay ahead of the pain” window. By the time evening rolled around I literally thought I was going to die. Then, to no surprise really, those damn sirens went off again! “WHAT THE HELL!?!? ” and a lengthy string of swearing followed as I scooted my ass down the basement stairs. The storm passed uneventfully and I slept in the basement guest room, refusing/unable to move again until morning.

Although I’ve grown accustomed to these storms accompanying my major life events, I’ve never really given them much consideration other than a flippant joke or sarcastic comment. Then out of the blue these last few days, the message came to me loud and clear. These storms are reminders to me that just as a storm rolls in and causes upheaval and distress, the sun eventually finds its way through the darkness and destruction. Peace always reigns once again. Sometimes a new storm chases the tail of another allowing little relief before the next assault. Sometimes, when the conditions are just right, a storm will build out of nowhere right before your eyes. Then, just as suddenly as it started, the clouds will dissipate giving way to clear skies and singing birds once again.

When we have life changes like marriage, babies, career changes, divorce, loss of a loved one, etc., our routine is disrupted. Our hearts might ache and grieve for our old ways. We might have to pick up the pieces and start over if not simply adjust. But once the rains stop and the clouds scatter, we are left with rich moist soil and full rivers and blooming flowers. Singing birds feast on fresh treats and children splash merrily in the puddles. The earth is rejuvenated and ready to produce for its benefactors.

It’s true I get a little nervous during tornado season now that I have children to protect, as the risk where I live is very real. But I now have an even deeper appreciation and a new perspective on storms. The next time I’m hiding out in a basement waiting for bad weather to pass, I’ll be reminded of this post and look forward to the beauty and new life that will follow once the skies clear.


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