I have no warning, I huddle in the dark as the tornado howls and screams, praying that the storm will silence itself. It seems unending. And when it leaves and the sun returns, I look at the faces of my children. The ones I huddled with in the blackness, pressing myself between them and the storm, protecting them, I think. But the turbulence and violence of the storm’s deafening words have left subtle marks on their faces and welts on their hearts.
We smile and pretend that it’s over. That the sunshine is here to stay. But beneath our relieved sighs are jangled nerves and we glance sideways to see if the storm is truly gone. We move about, hug each other, love each other, try to form peace by preparing for the next storm.
And after I feel prepared, after I think I’ve armed myself and my boys with the necessities and fortitude to withstand another stint in the screaming dark, I feel a little better.
The boys know I feel better. They know the storm can’t hurt them again. We mill around, we let ourselves be ourselves. We relax, we laugh.
But the storm comes back stronger and smarter. It takes out the necessities first, then sets its violence to breaking down the fortifications I thought were impenetrable. Brick by brick by brick, I am exposed to the winds, the icy hail, the feeling that someone took the floor out from under me.
I’m tossed through the blank air, wildly grasping for the children I vowed to protect. Unable to hold them, unable to shield them, unable to keep them from believing it is better to be the storm than the mom.