Tuesday, May 15, 2012

That Storm

The flash is brilliant and blinding and powerfully silent in those first milliseconds.  I’m slow to wake even in that instant of pounding heart because the thunderous roll spirals round and round before it slams.  The window panes shudder from the strike that happens somewhere in the early morning distance.  How many times have I hushed small children and pets during thunderstorms?  Wrapped arms around them as their hearts pounded?  How often have I pointed to the magnificence of it all, the crackling roar, the zigzagging tear ripping across the heavens, the light show like no other?  Now my heart is the one pounding and I’m the one fearful.  It’s true.  I have no heart for thunderstorms that crash and roar too close for my comfort.

The window is cracked open just enough to let the storm winds catch filmy white curtains in our bedroom and cause them to stir and billow out just gently enough to be strangely calming.  I am counting one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand…  And the strike takes even longer than my counting.  It happens far away, not in my backyard, not on my street and not in my neighborhood.  Suddenly, I'm Luther on a rainy night making promises to God if he'll just keep us all safe.  And I am stressing as I think of the woman up the hill whose attic was struck by lightning, and I am stressing as I think of Liz whose family lost everything in a lightning strike years ago, and I am stressing over that slightly curved and ever-so-old tree just out back that is taller than the tree line, tall enough to attract attention from this lightning lashing.  And I’m fully awake now alone in the flashes and rumbles.   The thunder rolls again, but it’s halfway across the town, maybe halfway across the city, or halfway across the county.  And the rain drums with steady persistence and then a little more gently, tapering off.  That is the calming part I need, the reminder that it’s just a storm, that it’s just thunder and lightning, that it’s much needed rain.  My heart rate is slowing again but my brain is speeding up in all that stormy early morning aloneness.
All the little storms I’m surrounded by in life are coming forward to replay in fast forward, to rewind again and again, so I can reconsider decisions, so I can reevaluate the whole, so I can reconnect in worry.   Minutes tick by as I begin my storm of thoughts.  Some of my storms are lengthy and they move slowly, I see them from a distance and they bring steady sheets of blowing rain from heavy dark skies.  Some of my storms bring floods of sorrow, wonder, anger, and a need to take action.  And there are those storms of mine whose thunder is all electrical crackling and striking loud at the heart.  There are some immediate storms whose approach catch my breath and cause me to linger hard on current, past and future.  And there are storms so far off in the distance they make sleep worth crawling into that plump soft white bed early for.  They are pleasant to slumber to with a lulling light show so far in the distance and a gentle peaceful and cleansing drizzle.
Another series of long rolls and resonating claps and booms.  Again, a flash appears white hot beneath my closed lids. My doorknob twists and the door opens wide and daughter is standing in a pool of darkness clutching pillow, blanket, stuffed animal and armful of whimpering schnauzer, Mollie.  She steps closer into the room and breathes “Dad… Mom…?  The storm woke me up… It’s scary… can I sleep in here?”  I whisper back, “It’s ok, it’s just a storm… go back to bed… its loud everywhere.” 
And then I stop, words still caught in my mouth and I consider... Wasn't my heart was just racing and aren't storms always better fared together?  Yes, of course and  together we are stronger, together we are calmer, together we are wiser about storms.   There is comfort in togetherness. Together doesn’t make the storm blow away to the north or east or south or west.   But together makes all storms easier to get through.  I say yes instead, come in, and she is spreading her blanket on the floor and laying down with pillow and with shaking dog curled into her and she is tucking herself into that soft nest on the floor.  I’m drawn to breathe prayers of thanks and they quiet those storms my brain began earlier. 
Thunderstorm sights and sounds still surround us, but we are together in that room in that storm.  Together we are half awake and half asleep.  The curtains billow out just ever so slightly while thunder rumbles outside and soon she is breathing gently and the dog isn’t whimpering.  I am peacefully sliding back into pleasant sleep, leaving all the storminess of cares and worries curled in and tucked away too.  It’s weathering the crashing thunderstorms together with someone, I note with certainty, as I reach for the hand of husband who’s asleep next to me.  When it’s all done together, it’s not as fearsome, not as stressful, not as lonely.

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