Rain and Rainbows

Dear Mom,

I’m fighting to write through the fog of a summer cold. Nothing serious. Just enough of
that blah big-head feeling to make me a little dumber than usual. Then again, that’s pretty scary.

We had a bang-up thunderstorm last week. Lee was still out working. I was home after my own long workday, trying to cuss myself into exercising. It wasn’t working. The TV was off and I wasn’t online – I was enjoying a few moments of blessed silence. One of the million things I miss about you is how you understood that need. Some people don’t.

So I was sucking up the solitude, having the kind of happy hour that doesn’t give me a hangover. Then things started whipping and whooshing around outside. The trees in my backyard were doing sidebends, and I’m pretty sure I saw Dorothy’s house swirl on by as it made the trek to Oz.

I usually know when a storm like that is coming. I get this keyed-up, can’t sit still nervous energy that would be awesome if I could harness it into writing or even scrubbing the toilet. But it is energy with a mind of its own, intent on being jittery and pointless until the storms pass. After a thunderstorm, I always feel like I  ran a marathon.

I didn’t get that over-caffeinated-Beavis-or-Butthead feeling this time, and since I was off the grid, I had no warning it was coming.

Then the rain started pounding the roof like a thousand Jehovah’s Witnesses banging on the door to save my soul, or maybe just a butt-ton of door-to-door salesmen intent on disturbing my peace. I turned on the TV and they were talking about the severity of the storm, saying if at all possible people should plunk their asses down in sturdy buildings and stay away from windows.

You know my house. It is just a room or two away from qualifying to be featured on one of those “tiny home” shows. I was minimalist long before it was what the cool kids were doing. The downside is that means the only way I can truly “move away from windows” is to hang out in the bathroom.

I didn’t feel like doing that. I was suddenly too keyed up to be still, and there’s not much room to move around between my toilet and my tub. The thing is, I wasn’t really scared for me at all. I was worried about Lee, out driving in the storm somewhere. I wanted more than anything to text or call him  and say “hey, you OK?” but I didn’t because even a scaredy-cat dumbass knows the worst thing to do to someone driving in bad conditions is distract them by making their phone go off.

Then, as quickly as it had begun, it was over. Lee made it home safe and sound. We’ve been together long enough that he knows I react weirdly to storms, so he wasn’t surprised to get the kind of hug a man might get if he’d just escaped a burning building or survived a plane crash.

Talk about “like a dog.” Your biggest dogs always wanted to hide under the bed or the table during storms. One of my favorite memories of our Great Dane Bruce is him doing his best to cower under furniture that was smaller than him when the thunderboomers came. He’d practically raise a table off the floor trying to use it for shelter. Bruce and I made perfect cuddle buddies in bad weather.

So Lee made it home safely, and was greeted by me in much the same way your dogs react when any of us come through the door – minus the full-body tail wagging. This chick doesn’t twerk.

For the rest of the evening, life went on as normal, except that the sky was a strange tint of yellow-orange for a long time. When he went out to unload the truck, the first thing Lee noticed was a  double rainbow shining over our neighborhood. He called me outside.

003I smiled when I saw it, and attempted to take a picture.  It just isn’t quite possible to capture a rainbow’s ephemeral beauty in a lasting image. It felt like I was trying to photograph a ghost.

I gave up and just tried to brand the image in my memory instead. As I watched the rainbow fade, I felt that familiar after-a-storm exhaustion coming on. This time, it wasn’t the pre-storm jitters that had zapped my energy. It was the worry I’d had about Lee making it home safely. The whole thing only lasted a few minutes, but while it was happening it felt like days. Like days in a hospital room grasping for one more real smile to make its way through your pain.

Is that what a flashback feels like?

Perhaps after losing you, I know in a way you never understand until you just do that you really and truly CAN lose those dearest to you. I am not immortal, and neither is anyone I love. Our lives are like rainbows, bright and beautiful but ever so transient and brief.

And we shine with our truest radiance after a storm.

Love you Mom. Like a dog.

 

 

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