In 2004, I was taking a small break from the hospital to run home and pick up some things. I had been living at the hospital with my sick toddler and newborn for several weeks and needed to go get a new cycle of clothes. Heck, who am I kidding? I simply needed a break from the machines and needles and children screaming in pain. I would have used any excuse to make a break for it because my heart was at capacity. My mom came to relieve me for a couple of hours so I could get some fresh air.
On the 20 minute drive to Dublin from downtown, the clouds moved in. I felt comforted. A good rain would be cleansing for me. As the sky grew blacker I let my heart do the same. I screamed at other cars as they passed me. I cursed. I let my anger loose. And as my mood grew more wrathful, so did the clouds. I pulled into the driveway just as the clouds could hold no more. I got doused in a chilling downpour in the 15 steps from the car to the front door. Admittedly, I didn’t make a run for it, I kinda wanted to get soaked. I was hoping it would be refreshing. It wasn’t.
Walking into the house after such a long sojourn at the hospital, I was overcome with the eerie silence. It felt dead inside. And it seemed like I had been gone for ages. I wondered why the housekeepers hadn’t draped everything in white sheets? Oh, wait. We had no staff. And we hadn’t been on vacation. I grew angrier still. My house was a voided shell. The baby swing sat empty. The toys were scattered as if abandoned in the middle of play. As I walked through the house, it was clear that the church had sent some kind women over to clear out the refrigerator and dust away the obvious. My heart warmed a little bit. Then I headed to my bed, turned on the tv and pulled the covers up high. I just wanted to do something that I had control over. MY remote. MY blanket. MY bed.
The storm outside raged on, pelting the side of the house with its fury. I think I must have been smirking at it… my mind saying something like “Hahaha! You can’t get to me in here! I’m safe from you. You can’t hurt me.” Then the crash came. It shook the foundation. I heard the crack of a tree. I felt the vibration in my head and the rattle of my teeth. Then that metallic taste that overcomes your mouth – the one that is usually reserved for life altering moments: the avoidance of ramming into the back of the car, the news that a loved one has died, hearing the words “Your son has cancer….” I knew I’d been too close to the source of the strike. But while I was technically still safe, my beloved television was not. It was dead.
After a few minutes of stomping my feet and cursing that my “ME-time” had been destroyed by an outside force, I had to pull myself together and get on with it. I picked up some fresh clothes, packed some new toys for Ben, restocked my toiletries, and went back to the hospital. I tried to run away, albeit for just a brief moment, but that dream had been dashed by the actions of the storm. And, ultimately, even though I didn’t want to be in my current situation, I had no choice. I had two little people who needed me desperately. I was so very tired. But looking back on it all and knowing now that I survived it all – that we’ve all survived – we’re better for that storm.
I try to be prepared for whatever weather is coming my way but my internal meteorologist often makes the wrong prediction. It is inevitable that something will come swooping into your life and make a big mess. And it’s okay to stomp your feet and get mad and even curse, but it’s all in how you pick up the pieces and salvage what’s left that makes you better. Stronger. And able to rebuild.
Gina Blauhorn Jones gave me today’s word. She knows all too well what a lightning strike can do to your life since she’s survived a daughter having AML and going through a bone marrow transplant. While Gina and I have never had the time to sit down over lunch and share our lives with each other, being a part of this “club” that no one wants to belong to has bonded us forever. I hate our situation but it has certainly given us the opportunity to meet wonderful people. To learn. To grow. And find the courage through each other to pick up the pieces and rebuild after such a destructive strike. Love to you and your family, Gina. <3