Even as a child, there was something about the electricity in the air, the early darkness, the quick flashes, loud booms and the threat of something ominous. I grew up in Louisiana and tornado warnings were common in spring time.
I remember one tornado warning in particular. I was in elementary school, probably in 4th or 5th grade. We were told a tornado was forming and that we should get under the shelves along the side of the classroom.
I remember standing up, looking out of the window and seeing the rotation of the clouds over another building. I was so fascinated that I couldn't take my eyes off of it. The teacher had to force me to duck and cover with the rest of them.
When I was at home and the weather turned bad, we would turn on the radio to an a.m. radio station and listen to the deep computerized sounds of NOAA weather alerts. Mom, my sister, brother and I would all pile into the closets in the hallway and my dad....
My dad, ever the daredevil, would stand on the front porch and watch.
He always seemed to have an "I dare you" approach to life and the world. So, he would stand and wait for the tornado while we would hide in the closets with our rosary beads, praying like mad.
To this day, I have a soft spot for NOAA radio. I guess I'm a weather geek.
My ex-husband had the same affinity for storms as I did.
I can remember the ex and I pulling out blankets and pillows and making a snuggle place in front of the open window in the living room. We would watch as the sky turned green and smile at each other as lightening flashed, brightening our faces for an instant.
This was good cuddle time. And often, after the storm would calm, we would make love to the sounds of the lingering light rain and the cool air that followed.
Our dog, on the other hand, hated storms.
It was during one particularly bad storm, and her panting restlessly at my bedside, when I found the tumor on her throat. I knew in an instant that it was cancer. My husband didn't believe it until the biopsy came back.
Two months later, we would have to put her down.
To be a single parent in a thunderstorm is not fun at all.
I find that I'm more like my dad now. I want to stand outside and watch. I want to feel the spinning air in my hair.
My children, on the other hand, want to stick to me like glue. I can feel the terror in their bodies. Their hearts are beating like mad. They're breathing quickly, letting out little yelps with each crash of thunder.
Tonight was especially difficult as the power source for all of my computer equipment melted down after a particularly strong surge of power. Before I knew what had happened, I only knew that I smelled smoke. I heard the tornado sirens wailing. I saw the trees twisting and turning outside.
And I had two little girls who wouldn't stop screaming in sheer terror!
I'm sure they remember last year's storm that had the three of us cowering in the center bathroom. I honestly thought we were going to die last year. But as a single mom, it is my job to stay calm. It is my job to make sure we are safe.
I went outside to see if the house was on fire. The poor things stood in the doorway screaming and shaking as if a funnel cloud was going to reach down from the sky and take their mommy away.
It was excruciating.
That is when being a single parent is hard.
That is when I wonder if I can continue to love storms like I did before.