Happy Thursday, everyone….
I should be grateful, I suppose.
I should be grateful that they warned us in time. That they evacuated in time.
I should be grateful that I’m still standing, even if my house isn’t.
The thing is that no matter how many times you watch the news, how often you see the images of far-off destruction… you never think it’s going to happen to you.
It’s not something you think about very frequently – things being broken down into their component parts.
My two-year-old sat in the middle of the living room carpet just a few days ago, playing with blocks. I watched him gingerly stack one on top of the other, until it towered almost over his head.
“Look, Daddy!” he said. “House.”
Not quite, I’d thought, smiling down at him. It takes a lot more than that to build a house. But it doesn’t take much more to knock one down. That living room carpet is probably buried somewhere in the rubble under my feet.
The tornado seems to have done its job pretty thoroughly. There’s nothing but sticks and bricks as far at the eye can see, like some demented, over-sized Lego project.
My family is still at the shelter, but me and Peach have come out to see the damage – I wanted to see how bad it was. Maybe I shouldn’t have come. It’s worse than I thought.
Peach, however, seems fairly unaffected by domestic tragedy. He’s running around, wagging his tail, golden-blonde fur shimmering in the traitorous sunlight.
“Come here, Peach.”
Obediently, he trots over, letting me pat his head for a few moments before racing off to do….. whatever it is dogs do.
I’m still trying to take it in – trying to somehow find the outline of what my home used to be in all this mess, when I feel something poke me in the shin.
Of course. With the abundance of sticks, it seems almost inevitable that he’d pick one up.
“Not now, Peach.”
I rub his head again and turn away… but he’s pretty insistent.
And why shouldn’t he be?
This is probably like dog heaven – sticks as far as the eye can see, and interesting smells to boot.
I resist a while longer, but after a dozen more pokes in the shin, I finally cave, taking the stick out of his mouth and throwing it.
Of course, it’s not enough. Once is never enough. But now he’s got me…. I can’t exactly say no. So we fall into a comfortable rhythm.
I throw the stick. He brings back a stick. And I continue surveying the damage.
I can feel my heart sinking. I’ve heard people use that phrase before, but this time, it feels like it’s literally true, my heart growing heavier in my chest.
There’s nothing here to save.
I throw the stick for Peach. Again.
He brings it back. Again.
Only this time, it isn’t rough wood that meets my fingertips, but cool metal. I look down at what’s in my hand – it isn’t a stick. It’s a rattle.
Specifically, it’s the sterling silver rattle that my parents gave us when Matt was born, with his name and date of birth engraved in delicate cursive. A little scratched up, perhaps, but not really any different from the last time I saw it.
Silly little thing. Not good for anything really. We’d stuck it in the cabinet in the dining room, along with all of the good china that we never used.
Such a small thing.
The cabinet it was in was probably well-smashed in the storm, along with all of that china.
But I close my hand tight around the rattle and stick it in my pocket. I don’t really need it, but I keep it anyway. I don’t think we’ll be able to save much of anything from this place.
I know that as Peach and I make our way back to the car.
But I’ve already saved what’s most important.
And they’re waiting for me back at the shelter.
(write for) 10 minutes * miscommunication * after the storm
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