My normal drive from the train has increased by ten minutes because an alternative bridge is under construction. Ten minutes shouldn’t be huge, but it is.
My husband has in the meantime picked up the boys, driven them to the older’s swim lessons, and made dinner. We eat at 6:30pm when I walk in the door. By 6:50, my husband has headed to the grocery store, I’m doing the dishes, threatening to dispose of the light sabers once and for all, doing dishes, no really I mean it this time, doing dishes, putting said light sabers in time out, getting out coloring books and markers so my oldest son can color and my youngest son can marker up his fingers, and finally I finish the dishes.
Thunderstorms are looming and it’s hot. Not a good combination in my town in this area of Illinois. There is no rain yet, but the thunder has begun. I race the boys up, put them in the shower where they dance around and I attempt to slather them up while explaining to my six year old that I know it feels funny, but there are certain things that require privacy.
“But look!” No, I explain. You’re getting old enough that playing with parts of you should really be private. That’s why they’re called privates. In the meantime, my youngest is asking my son to show him how to get his “thing” to do that. I give them the showerhead to rinse off themselves, their favorite part of the shower, while I fold clothes in hearing-range of their mischief.
Both boys out of the shower and tearing down the hallway under direction to get underpants. I fold, my youngest comes tearing through and unfolds. I send him on a mission to find one stuffed animal at a time and bring it back to me. This slows him down long enough so I can refold and have them put away some of their things that they can reach. They are asked again to find some underpants. Boys must be kept busy at all times. Especially if there are two of them.
My husband gets home with the groceries, the boys run down to inspect the goods, while being told by their father to go sit on the couch. I laugh at my husband’s suggestion as I finish putting away the laundry. He puts away the groceries (and I spy he has bought Reese’s Puffs cereal. Everything right and wrong in the world wrapped up in tiny sugary balls of goodness). The boys have a couple of Vanilla Wafers for a bedtime snack, and I get together my oldest son’s “summerwork” (I send him some worksheets from a kindergarten book, and a journal where I write him a note and he writes me a sentence daily).
We sit down to read some library books we forgot about, and I get to read a story about a boy who played kickball, three times. Three. I know. Just lucky I guess.
The wind picks up and I see my Redbud tree waving furiously. I send my husband outside to make sure the plastic crap, ie little slide and two containers full of kids toys, is secure. He comes in and says, “Time to go to the basement.”
The tornado sirens were going off but we couldn’t hear them in the house until they faced us. The wind was that loud. Now keep in mind, my town has been hit by a massive tornado before so we have more sirens than most places. I shuffle my oldest down the steps, and pick up the youngest while my husband grabs his wallet, cell phone and head lamp he used when he ran in the morning.
We are in the basement and the kids are unnerved until I say how lucky we are that we keep all the toys down here. They had forgotten, although we’re surrounded by them and the kids play a little but are staying close to where I am sitting on the foam mat. My oldest son says how tornadoes can suck you up and you’ll be killed. I tell him that could happen but it isn’t likely. I wish he had seen the Wizard of Oz, but alas he hasn’t. My husband goes to the basement window well to listen for the sirens.
My son asks me what happens if the tornado hits us. I tell him that it could take the house away but we’re safe. We have a basement. We’re lucky and so many people aren’t.
“But what if our house blows away?”, he asks.
“We’ll be okay because the important thing is we are here together. We’re lucky like that too.”
“But where would we live?”
“We can always get a new house, and if we can’t we’ll figure it out. It’s no big deal.”
He seems to take comfort in that because he knows his mom. So much is a big deal. But not now, and not this. There is nothing in this house that means a damn to me except the people in this basement, and the one missing that my husband and I are both thinking about but no one is talking about. We know our daughter is safe, but when there is something like this and you’re in a basement with the only things that matter in the world, her presence is greatly missed. I know she’s safe, I hope she’s home with her mom in their basement. But that unknown quotient is hard to qualify. We are almost complete. But almost complete is still incomplete.
My son thinks for a minute and says, “But houses are really expensive!”
“We’ll figure it out buddy.”
My husband comes back over from the window, the sirens have stopped. It has only been fifteen minutes, but they’re a different type of minute when you’re uncertain about where your life could go from here. We go upstairs, turn on the weather to see how it looks and we’re at the tail end of the red. This storm should be over for us soon. For us.
We brought the boys up to bed and read a book about storms to put my older son’s mind at ease. It seemed to help. I laid in bed with the younger, talking to both of them until they were calm enough for me to leave. The hugs were tighter than normal.
Now the rain is a drizzle.
The storms have passed.