I’m not even sure how to start this. I grew up in Oklahoma, way out in the country, on ten acres of land. We had chickens. We could walk and walk and build forts and forget where they were and build more the next day. We were so lucky.
When I was a kid, my family listened to the seasonal tornado reports on the t.v., and tried not to panic. We had a closet under the stairs where we went during the serious tornado warnings, when the sirens would actually go off. My mom and dad always said we’d be protected if it got bad, because they’d drag a mattress over our bodies if the storm got really close. But it never happened. In fifteen years, we never had to drag the mattress over our bodies. We were lucky.
One time, we had a close one. When I was 8 or 9, I remember an afternoon — or maybe it was evening. You see, when a tornado is coming, you have no clue what time of day it is. It’s just gray. Infinite gray and ominous. There’s almost NO movement in the air, but, like those moments in a horror movie, when the music builds, and you know the monster is coming — you can feel the danger.
We felt it. Danger. If we were dogs, the hairs on the backs of our necks would have stood up. I’m pretty sure the hairs on the back of my neck stood up anyway
We stood on the back deck and looked at the sky . . . and then we saw it. We saw the funnel. We saw it forming. It was alive and it was dark and crafty and mean — mean as a black, slithering snake. It was coming after whatever was in its path. We shivered and prayed to God we were not in its path. As we watched, it formed and started moving away from our house, so we relaxed. And then we had dinner, like nothing had happened. I think we had taco salad.
Yesterday, as I listened to the news, I sat waiting, denying and praying. Waiting to hear from my family. Denying that they’d have to get the mattress and hide in the closet. Praying for their safety. I am not religious. I don’t name what I believe. But I believe. I believe so strongly. And I prayed. Because I believe this universe, whatever your religion or beliefs, is built on energy and thoughts and love and the electricity that emanates from all of us – so I sent it out as strongly as I could. I prayed. Hard. I could not live without my family. It doesn’t matter how far away they are or how long it’s been since we’ve talked – they are me. Our connection is beyond visceral. My love for them is infinite, and I know they love me equally. I found myself mentally making a violent argument to the heavens, arguing that my family MUST be saved, because so many people would be shattered if he/she/they decided to take the souls I loved so much. Then, I started making deals:
I’LL DO MORE.
I’LL BE BETTER AT FORGIVENESS.
PLEASE, LET THEM BE SAFE, GOD. I’LL DO ANYTHING.
My prayers were answered, and my family is safe. Did my prayers work? Did I pray harder than someone else? No. I did not. My family got lucky. So many other people did not. I feel devastated and horrified and relieved and guilty for feeling relieved. I watch news reports of Moore, Oklahoma, 5 miles from my mom’s house, and I see what looks like a war zone. And yet there was no enemy, was there? Was it God? How could God let this happen? How could this be pre-ordained? It doesn’t seem possible. Why? How could He have let this happen? I have no idea.
I wish I had some wisdom. I wish I could give a cerebral, beautiful, thoughtful, calming explanation for the massive devastation that has happened in my home state, but I can’t.
I know that the past 48 hours have made me realize how incredibly fortunate I am. I know my family and I were spared. I know that this horrific tragedy has pulled my life into perspective, lickety-split. Problems that seemed overwhelming no longer loom. I pray that it’s awakened others. I pray that we all take a step back and breathe and help.
And I thank the universe for every breath.