Friday night March 14, 2008 is going to stay with me for a long time. For that night my partner and I witness all to close the raw fury of nature having a major temper tantrum.
About 9:30pm I settled into my new gaming chair to play my play station 2 major league baseball games. My partner Bill was in the study working on job applications…when it began to rain.
No surprise as that had been the weather forecast for the evening and most of Saturday…thunderstorms and rain. There was nothing about severe weather that caught my attention.
Suddenly our lights flickered and Bill called out from the study asking if it had started to rain? I responded that it had and the lights flickered again. With the 2nd flicker decided to disconnect the computer rather then lose it to a power surge.
I went into the study and started the process of shutting down the computer, when the patio swing began to bang against the side of the house very hard and I thought, “What the hell direction is the wind coming from?” “That swing never hits the house except a little bump now and again and never that hard”…then I heard what I could only describe as a low growl.
I turned around to see what one of our labs, CoCo was growling at; except she wasn’t there…she was in the front room with Bill. The house went completely dark…which was about the time Bill starting shouting, “Oh shit, OH SHIT, TREES ARE FLYING EVERYWHERE…PAUL, PAUL TREES…!”
I came out of the study in time to see the top half of a 50 foot Oak fall not 5 feet from our house. I froze…time stopped except now for an awful sound…I start thinking fast, “we got to get into the crawl space…get all 3 dogs together…damn the bird (A Catalina Macaw) who is now screaming right along with the wind…. Billy, damn get from in front of the window!”
I was never able to verbalize any of those thoughts…I couldn’t move…I couldn’t speak…I just stood there watching hell breaking loose all around my house. Then just as quickly as it started, it stopped. It was still, death still…no noise, no wind, no rain.
We opened the front door and what we saw was beyond anything I can find the proper words for. The steps leading to the deck of our house were smashed flat by the falling tree. Billy’s Honda was a good two feet lower to the ground; the back tires flat, windows blown out. My Nissan top was caved in…our drive way was nothing but tree branches and debris.
We started to pick our way through the branches when we were hit in the eyes by the neighbors flashlight, yelling, “Are you hurt? Are you OK?” I said, “yes, just shook, but yea we are fine.”
Bill and I along with the neighbor got to the street and saw huge 100-year oaks down everywhere. Houses that stood for years in this neighborhood were now damaged beyond recognition by the huge trees falling into them. Wires were down all over and still no sound except the voices in the neighborhood of people coming out of their homes calling to others, “Are you OK? Do you need help?”
Bill and I and the rest of the neighborhood spent the next several hours making sure everybody was OK. Amazingly, no was killed, no was hurt. The only death on our street that night was a squirrel that had gotten trapped with the falling tree. In the quiet of the aftermath of the storm it’s screaming was mind numbing…then it stopped. It served as a reminder how close we all had come to the same fate.
One lady on our street had been at her computer just before the fury hit. Had her husband not dragged her away from the computer and to the basement of their house…well she was sitting directly in the spot a 10’ diameter tree crashed into the front of the house.
2 hours into this a police officer came down the street telling us we ought to get back inside as another storm was on it’s way. I thought to myself, “dear God we can’t take another hit, enough, enough!”
We went back inside and decided to try to sleep on the fold out couch, as the idea of more storms and trees crashing through our up-stairs was not a pleasant thought.
The dogs, Sara-14, CoCo and Koda both 3 were breathing and panting so hard, we thought they would have heart attacks and they could not get close enough to Bill and I. So, there we were Bill, me and three 70-pound dogs on the fold out trying to sleep but not getting there, for if we went to sleep, it might not end.
Around 5am the 2nd round of storms arrived…no real wind but lots of thunder and lightening. We just lay there hoping and praying to see the break of day.
I guess some sleep came as we were awoken to the sound of chain saws and heavy equipment removing trees and debris…the beautiful sound of life, the sounds of renewal.
In the daylight I could see where the tree had been broken off and hurled to the ground and knew that with a just slight twist of the wind, rather then the cars it would have been the house and where Billy was standing…and I began to cry… it was too close, too fast and I had froze and would have never been able to save him. It hit me hard, that I am not ready to die, not ready to be a widow, not ready to not see my friends, my congregation, or my family. It also became very apparent that the Reverend Bitch. Sir is not so tough or so in control as I think I am.
The words of Jesus floated into my mind,
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”
Yes, I was reminded of an important lesson…life is fragile…the love we share with someone can be gone in an instant…in 30 seconds or less it can all be gone and with a lot of stuff unfinished.
Our Church celebrated its 10th anniversary Saturday evening. I cannot explain how good it felt to have one more opportunity to see the people I love, to hold, to hug, to have the opportunity to tell each and everyone of them I love them, need them, want to be with them as long as possible. I will endeavor to remember this 1st and foremost in the good times as well as the rough.
Oh yea one more thing just in case my husband ever wonders or has any doubts, he can come back and read this testimony. Cause you know folks you can’t say this enough or write this in enough places for the one you love…
“Bill, I love you with all my heart. I cannot imagine life without you and I praise God this night and every night that I have another day to share with you. Each night when I go to sleep with you in my arms I will know that God has looked upon us and said, “It is good, it is good.”