The light flashed through my eyelids that were shut with slumber. The Tylenol PM made it hard to open my eyes, but I struggled to open them to ensure that it was indeed lightening. Again the darkness was pierced with the quick white light…..the sound rumbled the old house. It was quite. She lied in bed, undisturbed by the force of nature making her presence known. After much negotiations with my eyes, they were fully opened and my legs were swung off the side of the bed. Lucky, the trusty pitbull, who happens to be my partner in crime, was sound asleep to the storm. Excitement filled my entire body. I went first to the bathroom window, as it has the best view of the mountains to the East. Quick white flashes, but no view of the lightening rods. I crept quietly to the front of the house. This home is equipped with the best storm watching porch you could ask for. It is covered, but not so much that the earths heartfelt emotions could quickly splash your body with her tears. I hunched down, lit a smoke and began to watch the most amazing fireworks show the weather has to offer.
As I began watching I couldn’t help but think of past places, persons and things. I was quickly brought back to my parents home as a child. I was cuddled up in a blanket with my sister. Steaming hot choclate by our sides and my mom sitting with us. Since I could remember, this is how my mom introduced us to mother nature and her power. Without fail, when the dark clouds began to form my mother’s excitement was contagious. The tea kettle would be filled with water and placed on the stove in anticipation of the great storm brewing. I swear the whistle of the tea kettle was the signal for the rain, wind, lightening and thunder to begin. We’d quickly stir our cocoa and shuffle our way to the porch, mom in tow with blankets. We’d bundle up in cozy fluffy blankets and ohhhh and ahhhhed our way through the day. No words were spoken, as the skies would tell us the story. It is one of my best memories of my childhood. The loud strike of thunder brought me back to today, but my sister was right there with me. My arm across her shoulder and her holding my hand keeping one another safe.
As I smiled and felt the warmth of the past fill my body, I was again reminded of another time in my life spent in storms. Diane…she is amazing. She came to Utah from Ohio in the military. This womans dimples spread joy. It was a chance meeting. Me with my son sitting watching two people playing soccer. My son, who is still the biggest flirt, began gooing and gaaaing his way into this soccer players heart. It was May…good soccer weather I suppose. Diane and I have been inseperable since. She is my bestfriend….soul sisters more like. We shared so many experiences together. We lived in the same apartment complex, our doors facing one another through a small courtyard. In early August of that year a storm came through in the early morning hours. Like all storms, I crept out of bed, wrapped up in a blanket and headed to the front stoop. As I was in awe of this incredible storm I could hear giggling. I thought I had finally crossed the line of plain weird to crazy. I began looking around and saw Diane on her stoop as well. I called for her to come over. She called for me to come over. Truth be known, though I love storms and take any chance to watch them, I wasn’t to excited about running through a courtyard of trees. We were at a stalemate. Laughing like mad women, she compromised and ran, like a track star I might add, to my stoop. I pulled her out a blanket and left to make us coffee. She was so comfortable to me. She was an old soul at a young age, 6 years younger than me. She felt like home, warm, true, safe and enduring. With coffee in hand, we snuggled close to one another and began watching. No words, again, were necessary. The dark night skies that would momentarily show us their brillance were etching memories never to be forgotten. Knowing it would only be a few hours until we’d see each other again, she slept on the couch and I in my bed. Though she has left this state and moved to Ohio, this night I was with her again, she was right there with me on my porch, silently telling our story again.
In a new home with two small kids. The signatures on the divorce decree were fresh. The freedom of doing it on my own was still sweet on my lips. The light slipped through all slits in this manmade structure. My eyes fly open. This will be the first storm on my own. I run into Wyatt and Cheyenne’s rooms, waking them. Without doubt they believe I’ve gone mad. I tell them to follow me, slowly and with sleepies in their eyes, they slowly make their way down the staircase. I fill the tea kettle. I turn around expecting to see crazy excitement and am greeted my one little girl on the floor wrapped up in blues clues and a little boy, with blanket in hand, rubbing his tired eyes. I approach the sleepy monsters, sit myself on the floor and explain to them that we will get to watch the earth tell us a story. The whistle of the kettle is our signal. Stirring the hot cocoa is quick and messy. I scoop up my little girl, hold my little mans hands and take them to the front porch. With myself in the middle, surrounded by all that is love and precious, I quietly explain that our story is begining. My kids cling to me in the begining, believing that I can save them from something unexplainable. But as the storm intensifies my kids begin to relax, knowing in their souls that the storm is a connection to mother earth. In silence we sit and enjoy each other. Many kisses and hugs and ahhhh and ohhhh’s are enjoyed amongst us. Cheyenne is the first to fall back asleep. I carry her into the house, dropping Wyatt off to the couch. I tuck her in, bathed in quick flashes and loud thunder. I go back downstairs and pick up my little monkey. As I carry him he tells me, “thanks momma.” I kiss him tenderly and tell him “anytime.” I tuck him tight under his covers. He looks at me, deeply, warmly and lovingly and says he’s not afraid of thunder and lightening anymore. I still felt their warm little bodies pressed against mine when I am brought back from memory. The smell of cocoa and rain lingered in my nose. To this day we all take the opportunity to sit on the porch and enjoy the story.
As I drift back to this night, I am filled with so much love, hope and dreams. So many memories of mine can be attributed to these storms. I slowly pull myself up knowing in a few short hours I will be waking up to go to work. As I enter the house I am suddenly aware of a slow sadness creeping in. He’s not there. The one that always needed my reassurance that the storms are not meant for him. He was put to sleep in October due to cancer and this is the first storm without him. Tears burn the brim of my eyes. I think about the night that he stood panting by my side of the bed. Frustration would usually creep in because Alicia and I would have to wake up early and the storm usually signaled a long night with AJ. On numerous nights I’d walk my scared friend downstairs, away from the kids and Alicia, and take him to the front room. I would lay down blankets on the floor and lie with him, petting him, telling him it wasn’t meant for him, that he was safe with me. Without fail my old friend would lay beside me and listen to my stories of times past with old friends and family who had enjoyed these feirce storms. His breathing would slow, panting would stop and my old friend would sleep with me, as the white light intruded through the window. The thunder no longer threw my friend into a frenzy, he slept close to me. He was an old soul as well. For old time sake, I lied on the couch. I told my old friend that I missed him, missed taking care of him in his fear and thanked him for listening to tales of thunder and lightening. My soul was once again filled with hope, love and understanding, as this memory made him alive and will until the day I take my last breath and meet him, and all the others, on rainbow bridge.
I crept back into bed, knowing she would be there still undisturbed. I pulled the covers over my exhilerated body. One last bright burst of light and a low rumble of thunder and the storm tucked itself into bed as well. I saw her face in the last light and was filled with so much love for her and where my life had taken me. I pushed myself into her and felt my own thunder and lightening.
May the storms write more stories for me and my family, and I hope that the next time a storm rolls in you take the time to make your own.