I know this is not my normal style but I did write it, and it has nothing to do with autism, however it is very much my story, I hope you enjoy.
As the rain falls from the sky
The thunder boom
The electricity flickers
The energy in the room heightens, I again flash back to that day, the one that wiped out the other small town I lived in.
More than 30 years have passed. Yet I remember that day as thought it was just weeks ago. Every time a storm comes memories flood back. With each tornado watch I make sure the safe room is still safe.
Though my family and home were spared that day, watching all those people around us die, and watching so many survivors lose everything set the tone for the rest of my life.
As I sit here in the dark with a candle, one of many emergency candles we keep for days like today, I write. I also listen to yet another frightening spring storm.
When someone new questions the storms, and why we live here, I simply say, “This is home.”
It is home; the life I have always known.
Thankfully my kids have never seen the destruction a tornado causes up close.
Each storm we weather makes me worry I won’t be able to say that again.
I sit, waiting it out. My hands shake, my heart pounds and each thunderclap makes me jump and my kids jump too. I know that I do this to them, make them anxious, I realize their fear is mostly fed by mine. I want to stop feeling the fear, but as I close my eyes to try and calm, to still my hands and relax my racing heart, my mind fills with the old familiar images from that day.
I was only 6, we were at the table in the dining room my mother and I. She was helping me with my school work, I was thinking about the accordion in the corner of the room. One day I would be big enough to hold it and play it. I have always loved music, creating it was a dream.
My father and brother sat across the room, I can’t remember what they were doing I just remember how happy the day felt.
It was raining, the storms were a lot like they are today: loud and a bit scary, but nothing I really feared.
Storms meant spring.They brought the flowers and the fruits on the trees. After everything seemed so fresh and clean.
A huge picture window stood to my right. We could see all the houses down the street. We lived on the edge of our small town, so there were about 10 houses then just county, small trees, and farmland. That was our view.
The rain came in waves. Again like today, there was a lull in the storm. Things seemed to have calmed and I looked up at my mom intending to ask a question and heard something that sounded like rolling thunder.
She had a look of panic on her face. I looked to my dad, he was moving quickly. He grabbed my little brother and the cushions from our couch. And we raced to the hall. That was the center of our house. We didn’t have a storm shelter, though every storm since I wanted one.
My mom took my hand and rushed me to my brother and said hold him and don’t let go. They rushed around grabbing blankets and pillows. And throwing them on top of us. Then they came too, and used their bodies to keep everything together.
To keep us safe.
I could hear a deafening roar, glass was breaking and then my brother was crying and mom and dad were praying loudly. I remember holding my brother and rocking him. After what seemed like hours, dad stopped praying. Mom was still there but dad went away to check on the storm.
It had passed.
There were 4 houses surrounding ours left standing. Everyone and everything else was just gone for nearly a mile around.
I remember most from that day the fiery sunset. It was red, everything was bathed in an eerie red light, seeing all that death and destruction bathed in that awful sunset was something I will never ever forget.
Today I am sitting here, in another storm. A few hundred miles from my home that day.
I find myself in another small town I choose to raise my kids after years in a city.
I admit when we looked at this house I fell in love, it was built over 110 years prior. It withstood countless storms, several fires that nearly destroyed the rest of the town and it felt safe.
Until the storms come. Then nowhere feels safe.
I wrote my way through this storm, it has passed the rain has slowed and now feels like a comfortable shower. In a while things will feel warm and clean again.
Still next storm will bring me right back. Every ruined home and each destroyer life will return, will flood through my head and again I will shake and my heart will pound and I will pray my kids never know more than the fear I have. I pray they never close their eyes and see the remains of their little town bathed in red.
As scary as that day ways for weeks after that spring day things seemed so odd, all pretense of normal was gone, despite my parents best attempts.