I can't imagine it. One minute the sun is shining and the next minute you're under a mattress in your bathtub as debris from your town blows overhead. The noise is outrageous and the only thing louder is your beating heart. You're not in control. You are not sure what your next move should be. You are doing the only thing you can do - you are staying still and hoping.
Just as you say that you can't imagine me, holding Christina's hand one sunny morning, laughing and then screaming in an instant, living through a tornado is beyond my ability to fathom.
I lived through a hurricane on Long Island when I was 8 or 9. Arnie's house flooded because the storm drain was clogged and a tree or two lost some limbs, but mostly it just rained a lot, or so I remember. I wasn't scared. I was thrilled. School had closed at noon and Sam had come home with me to play cards because his parents were no where to be found.
Life was simpler before "emergency release cards" were necessary.
I've never had the world turn on me. Though there were several large earthquakes while we lived in California, Marin was never the epicenter. The walls shook and sonic booms rocked my eardrums but it never frightened me. The world was a safe place, the earth was my home, I was secure.
Last week's Sports Illustrated featured Tuscaloosa, Alabama on its cover and devoted the feature article to the nexus of 'Bama sports and Mother Nature's fury. Dead teenagers fill the pages as do 350 pound football players carrying chain saws to help clear front yards and driveways. It was the antithesis of a safe and secure home, but the town is moving forward.
That's it in a nutshell. Tragedy and resilience. Senseless death and volunteers doing whatever it is that they do best, be it staunching a wound or hauling heavy equipment. Things and people are gone, and yet the sun comes up the next morning. Or, the rain keeps falling. Those left behind wonder why and how and soon, if they and we are lucky, that energy turns outward and wonderful things happen - concerts for civility and community picnics and tender memorials and new playground equipment and whiteboards.
It's not enough. Not nearly enough. But nothing will ever be enough. How can it be? What the survivors want cannot be granted. Life cannot go back to the way it was before. All I want is Christina-Taylor back in my courtyard, watering my containers and collecting her $2/day. Too bad. That is not going to happen.
But I can take those feelings and promote the CTG Foundation. I can be Grandmother in Residence at an elementary school, giving and getting hugs, reading and being read to, putting bandages of love on my aches and sorrows. I can take advantage of my wider audience and try to do some good. It's not what I want; it's what is available.
I'm afraid of skinny white boys now. I wonder if those in T-Town or Joplin will be afraid of the wind, or a certain smell in the air. I hope that they are able to sleep soundly soon, because I know that right now sleep is the furthest thing from possible. How can they relax? The world is a scary place.
Don't try to tell us it's not. We know better.