The morning of December 31, 2012, I was full of hope. Looking forward to what we claimed would be “Our Year”, I just knew that after enduring the last few rough years, 2013 was going to be filled to overflowing with goodness and happiness and chocolates and sunshine.
But then the sky clouded up, the rain began to fall, and somebody threw my chocolates into a mud puddle.
The beginning rumblings of the Storm came that night, New Year’s Eve. Games had been set out, snacks were prepared and ready for the feast, friends had been invited over. John had fallen asleep in the recliner, and suddenly launched from the chair, hand over mouth, eyes somewhat frantic. Yep – our house had been hit by a virulent stomach flu that quickly traveled throughout the family. I felt slightly uneasy…I mean, what way is that to start out a New Year? But then, we joked about getting all the bad stuff out of the way right at first, so the rest of the year could be filled with good.
Then came the Thunder. Initially, they were calling it a temporary layoff. Okay, we thought, we can deal with this. Buckle down that budget. It’s just for a few weeks.
Enter Sleet. We were enjoying a family gathering at a new restaurant when my cell phone rang. My Mom’s cell number…..that was odd. She never called my cell phone. My throat felt suddenly thick and sticky. I answered to hear my brother’s anguished screams. An accident. The car was sliced in two. Jaws of life. Solemn faces and somber voices of firemen and first responders. Broken fragments of information, interrupted by hiccups and gut-wrenching sobs. “My wife, my wife”, he wept. “My son.”
A rush to the hospital. A front desk nurse handing me news that caused my knees to buckle, my heart to skip beats. My teeth began to chatter as my husband helped maneuver my body to a vinyl seat, my legs suddenly turned to wet noodles.
But then, better news. Stable. Broken bones. Surgery. Smiles of relief. It’s okay. They will be okay. We can get through this.
The Rain began in earnest. The tragedy of a tiny life taken before it had the chance to begin. A family member paying the consequence of a stupid past mistake; the consequence rippling through his immediate and extended family like rocks of hail leaving dents in a vehicle.
I half-joke with my husband that I am developing “Don’t-answer-the-phone-a-phobia”. Bad news seems to always be on the other end of the phone line.
I’m not really joking.
The Wind picked up. The lay-off has become a termination. My brother’s family faces struggle after struggle. My sister-in-law faces surgery after surgery, complication after complication. Pain after pain.
The storm rages through my heart, leaving cracks in its wake. I am helpless to fix any of this agony.
My sister calls, weeping. Pain in her shoulder is driving her crazy. Should she go to the chiropractor? I offer the number of a friend who does massage therapy.
The massage didn’t help.
I hear the faint echo of a Tornado Siren in the distance.
The job search appears fruitless. Resume after resume sent out. Call after call left unreturned. More complications for my sister-in-law.
My sister is still crying with shoulder pain. Nothing is helping and the pain is worsening. She is going for an x-ray.
The cracks in my heart begin to fill with rubble and debris.
My mother calls, her voice unsteady and suddenly sounding decades older than it did just the day before.
The pain in my sister’s shoulder is the result of a mass in her lung.
I want to rail against God, to raise my fist to the heavens and cry out that He has failed to protect us from grave injustice. It isn’t fair! I want Him to right these wrongs and bring back my Sunshine and Chocolates.
I can see the Funnel Cloud forming, aiming toward my own driveway.
I stand on my porch and watch it come.
I wonder if the Storm will ever end.
I see a hint of Sunshine. Just a little, peering through the black clouds. I have to squint to see it, but it is there.
A job comes through. Good news! We’ll hang on to that.
The medication my sister needs is expensive. Our family organizes fundraisers to help. I am crocheting scarves to sell, and my brother is hosting a yard/craft sale to raise money for her.
I become a humble witness to overwhelming generosity.
My fundraiser posts are shared all over Facebook. People take time to care.
People I haven’t seen or spoken to in years contact me. A friend from high school I haven’t seen in close to twenty years – since graduation! – orders a fundraiser scarf. The grandmother of my teenage daughter’s best friend from kindergarten orders a couple more. People who I know have nothing to spare are offering to give their own clothes for the sale. Friends with crafty talents have offered to create something special to donate. Family offering to bake treats for the sale.
A knock on my door. I answer to find my neighbor shoving a check into my hand. “I don’t really wear scarves,” she said, “but I want to help so just shut up and take this check for your sister.”
A friend I have known for years online but have never actually met in person has offered to run a fundraiser in my sister’s name through her Pampered Chef page.
More people than I can count have offered to pray our family through this difficult time.
There is good in this world. There is Sunshine. I can see it, forcing aside the darkness and overpowering the Storm.
Our boat has been rocked in this Storm, but your love and support is the ocean keeping our little rig afloat.