As most of you know, April was a tough month for Alabama (and other southern states), as it appears May is for Missouri. The tornados have been in full force, and every thunderstorm reminds me to keep my eye on the sky and an ear peeled for the ever-intrusive tornado sirens. You would think that after all of that, I would’ve written something. But I didn’t. I haven’t been writing–at all. And I really don’t know why. Am I depressed? Shockingly, no. Am I tired? That’s a given, but not enough to keep me from bad TV or the vapid escape of Facebook. Am I bored? Hmmm. Perhaps the answer is yes? I began reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and it has at least inspired me to get off my ass and do something–something about this writing business.
The sirens started that April morning at 6am. My husband was getting ready for work when he leaned my way to let me know that they were going off. I begrudgingly got my weary-self out of bed, turned on the coffee maker, and headed quickly up the stairs towards the kid’s rooms where my daughter was still snuggled beneath her pink and yellow comforter, unaware of the siren in the near distance. I walked first into my son’s room where he stood in his crib, jumping up and down, smiling ear to ear. ”Momma. Momma,” he said repeatedly. I grabbed some clothes for him, and swiftly headed across the hall to haul Miss Elsa out of bed.
“Let’s go,” I said sternly.
“But I’m tired,” she whined while making me physically pull her from her slumber.
“I know baby, but the tornado sirens are going off and we need to get to the closet downstairs.” This seemed to get her attention and she finally used her legs to move herself in that direction. The sirens passed and the crisis seemed to be over for the time being. Once caffeine had been employed in my daily routine and my children had been clothed and fed, the day seemed to be going as any other–that is until the second, third and fourth sirens went off. While my daughter played upstairs my son and I remained downstairs where I was glued to the weather on TV. Around 11am they told us that our area was directly in the path of a large tornado and we should take cover. I picked up my son, headed toward the stairs and called for Elsa to come down.
“Let’s go!” I yelled up the stairs.
“Why?” she asked quizzically as she descended the steps with her horses in tow. Suddenly the wind picked up and the lights began to flicker. All of the power went out in an instant and the wind shifted outside. There was a brief, eery silence that filled my ears… if only for a moment… and I knew something was afoot. I jumped two stairs with Gunnar hiked under my arm and grabbed El with my other. ”Mommy!” she yelled. With both children in my arms, I hesitated for only a moment to look at the front door. The inside of my home felt suddenly pressurized, and I thought that the windows and door were going to implode upon us.
Without further delay or explanation we headed into the master bedroom closet. Sitting there in the dark with my kids in my lap, the wind howled ferociously outside and no one moved. No one breathed. We just waited. After a couple of minutes I got up to see what was going on outside. Our rod iron porch set moved with such ease on the back porch that I thought it may spear the glass of my backdoor. My daughter’s baby-pool levitated into the bruised sky, leaving no trace of its existence. Shit, I thought. This is insane. I called my husband from the closet and let him know that our neighborhood was under siege. Because he works in a vault, he had no idea what was going on outside, and his work area hadn’t really been hit, so he couldn’t identify.
By the time the storm had passed, it was 2pm… and we still had no power. The three of us sat in the living room and watched as colorful bolts of lightning criss crossed their way across the afternoon sky. I was counting down the minutes until my hubby could get home. Just as he did, around 4:30pm, we both watched as a giant funnel cloud, at least a mile-wide, swept its way across the swirling sky. ”Let’s go!” I called out and we all headed once more into our closet. The weather radio alerted us again and again to the many tornados that had been reported. The hail beat down from the heavens as a tornado warning, louder than any siren could ever attempt to do–and we remained in our candle-lit closet.
By the next morning, we still had no power and no idea as to what had happened to the region. I climbed into my car with the kids, expecting to take my daughter to school when I heard about the devastation that had happened to Tuscaloosa and our own neck of the woods, Harvest. Three miles from our house is the ghost of a neighborhood. Trees, cars, and homes were turned to mere elements when Mother Nature left us in her wake. I was astonished. And scared. I quickly realized how close to disaster we had been, and how lucky I was to have my entire family with me… alive and well. Others were not so fortunate. And my heart goes out to them as they begin rebuilding not only their homes, but their lives.