The Sweetest Gift

Sigh. It’s raining cats and dogs and the radar shows no signs of an end for a few days.

In 2011, a storm named after a second tier jeans company barreled into our small town and decided to disobey the normal rules of weather patterns and stop moving. I understand, it’s a cool little town, I did the same thing. I remember, we had 3 other couples over for a lovely dinner on a Sunday evening. They left to walk home as it started to drizzle, and the rain didn’t stop until Thursday, after 3 of us had lost our homes and everything in them. 

This storm is eerily similar. It’s doing something called ‘training,’ which means it’s running due north, pounding the same area over and over.

I don’t want to talk about why this is happening, why 10 year storms are happening every 4 or 5, why weather events that are “once in a lifetime,” aren’t, or why ‘freak occurrences’ have become just ‘occurrences.’ I don’t want to talk about them, now, because I don’t really care, now. There will be time, later. But now, people are losing their lives (moments ago, I received an alert that a 19 year-old was just washed away & lost), their homes, and everything they thought they owned. Mat Kearney sings, “The tears are coming down, they’re mixing with the rain.” When this rain stops tomorrow or Thursday (hopefully), we’ll go back to normal, but nothing will ever be the same for some people. They will forget what ‘normal’ ever felt like.

I also don’t want to talk about the “things I’ve learned” 7 years later. I don’t want to talk about them because nobody really cares about those things, now. We all just want to survive, to make it through today without falling apart, lessons and growth are about the last thing anyone wants to hear. 

I know what’s coming, for them. I know people will say, “If it makes you feel any better, I had water in my basement.” (What kind of monster would I be if your pain did actually make me feel better?!!?) Someone will walk down to their house and say, “I was going to throw this chest away, but I could sell it to you, if you need it.” “I’m sorry, the insurance money won’t cover that.” “When your house went underwater, a pipe must have burst, so here’s that $500 water bill.” And “What’s the big deal? That was, what, a month ago? You need to get over it.”   I know, for the next 3 years, they’ll say, “where is that thing? I know we had one,” and then they’ll remember… They’ll have to replace their wooden spoons. They’ll have to wear their aunt’s (THEIR AUNT’S!!) flip-flops to WalMart to buy shoes. And where will their pet live while they’re living with allergic friends? And they will cry when they realize they forgot 1 box of pictures (irreplaceable, because they were from a time when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, when there weren’t hard drives or clouds and the photo, a little out of focus, was all you had) in the basement. And they will cry over those pictures again and again and again. And they will also cry because that present their dad bought them is gone and so is he, so there will be no more presents from him. And the kids 1st grade schoolwork!!!!! And 7 years later, when it rains, they will sit in their living room, holding each other, as the tears come again.

Yes, I know what’s coming. And if I should happen to overhear some well-meaning friend try to explain how it’s “just stuff,” that “we don’t get more than we can handle,” or the ABSOLUTE WORST, “God has a plan,” I promise I will start that fight club I only dreamed of 7 years ago. (That’s only half a joke;)

Sure, I’m different now than I was then. They will be, too. But there is one thing.

I told Elisha last night, the only thing that matters when you’re scared – and we’re all so scared now – is that you’re not alone. In that same Mat Kearney song, “I’m holding on to you, holding on to me. Maybe it’s all we got but it’s all I need.” It’s all any of us need. NOT more bumper sticker platitudes or dumb cliches. Not somebody to quote the Bible, but somebody to BE the Bible – bring a sandwich, pray, tear out some carpet, feed our rabbit, hold our hand, hold us up when we can’t stand anymore, tell us it’ll be ok, someday.

The sweetest gift God ever gave us was each other – this incessant rain would be unbearable without it. Even so, it can stop anytime.

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