Thunder and Lightening

I am a fan of rainstorms. I like a good solid long lasting storm with lots of rain; but I’m not a fan of the wind, I’m hate it when the tornado sirens start screaming and I despise lightening. A good rain will engage all your senses and set your mind in a different mood. I love to sit on the back porch while it rains hard, causing my eyes to squint just a touch, to see all the drops that fall. There is no comparison to the sound a strong downpour makes on the roof of the same back porch, mimicking a song that is never out of tune and doesn’t ever go out of style. The rain even smells good…(maybe that comes from being raised by a man who grew up on a farm as a child), but I promise, I can smell the rain, and I like it. And, a rainstorm almost always changes the pace. You’re forced to change plans, since something is always organized to be done outside. You have to slow down, sometimes even stop. I find a good rain calming, comforting and peaceful.

A good rain storm is sometimes hard to come by in Florida. Almost every day during the summer, Florida gets a little rain. Its typically in the afternoon, and can last 20 minutes or an hour or two. It usually pops up quickly, and disappears just as fast. Those afternoon storms are accompanied by lots of thunder and tons of lightening. The thunder is often easy to tolerate; it can be heard from further away and you can anticipate and prepare for it as it moves closer. By the time it’s overhead, you are ready for it, you can hear a couple of loud booms that shake the dishes in the cabinet and the pictures on the shelves, and then it moves on as gradually as it moved in. It creeps away in a step-like fashion, until you realize you don’t hear it any longer.

Lightening, however, is an entirely different story. Lightening jumps up out of no where and scares the heck out of you. Sometimes it manages to show up without any rain, when you’re certain there couldn’t be any around. It’s a bright, bold, jagged dagger thrown from high in the sky. It’s everywhere in Florida, and its damn violent. It pops and crackles and sizzles. I’ve been close (within a few houses) when I’ve heard it touch the Earth and its frightening. It starts fires; (3 neighbors in 2 years have had significant fire damage as a result of lightening strikes.) You learn quickly about lightening when you live in Florida; at the very least, you learn to avoid it and respect it as powerful.

Today marks one month since Caitlin died. I once said I wasn’t going to mark anniversaries of sad days; today I did. I tried not to. I willed myself to forget it. As it approached I tried to lose track of the date and just move thru the week. (Impossible given the number of loved ones birthdays it surrounds.) Then, I decided I’d curl up in my bed and hide under the covers all day, after I got everyone off to work and school. None of that worked, so instead I remembered, and with lots of love, made it thru the day.

I think my grief over the past month has been just like those summer storms in Florida.

I have prepared and anticipated the thunderous part of mourning. I have made accommodations for the thunder, and with some shaking of the dishes and picture frames, I’ve made it thru. I have good family and friends near and far that have helped to insulate me from the anticipatory thunder in the last month. I am so grateful for the gentle, kind and loving arms and words that have wrapped around me, all the while trying to allow me the opportunity to preserve the thought that I was maintaining strength. Looking back, I can see where and when and how each of those people held on to me, and held me up. I have had little strength from within…instead it has been loved ones who refuse to let go….thank you.

The lightening however, has been overwhelming and at times reduces me to my knees more quickly than I ever thought possible. Just like the thunder, lightening has come in just like those summer storms, as well. Lightening strikes when I am asked “How many?” by a hostess, and before I can think, I rattle off “Six.” Lightening has struck me when, at least 6 or 8 times a day, I survey my children and panic, wondering where my last child is, before I can stop the thought and remember, “She’s gone, forever.” That is what lightening is like. It is seeing Hello Kitty anything, sour patch kids candy, an advertisement for Rise of the Guardians or Hotel Transylvania, or hearing a song from Wicked or Annie. Lightening is watching someone walk away from you because they’re too scared to talk to you. Lightening is watching your child suddenly encounter an object or moment that reminds them of their angelic sister, and become so overwhelmed with grief themselves that you are left stunned and speechless, again.

I pray, and hope that the the lightening becomes less, and the thunder becomes more as we move thru our days. I try and be realistic though, knowing that in the next 6 weeks we will celebrate Christmas and New Years, and then Cole’s birthday. The next “11th” is my birthday (ironic or a wink? I’m not sure) and finally, Campbell’s 3rd birthday falls on January 13th; a day that, given the opportunity, I would crawl into bed and not come out for 24 hours. You see, January 13th is the anniversary of the day this journey began.

Maybe, instead, by January 13th, we will have found our way to that promise that often follows violent and angry thunderstorms…..

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