I have always prided myself on being a fairly independent sort of girl…the past year alone should be evidence of that tendency. I made the decision to “go it alone,” after all, and I started over on my own. I bought my own house and made it into a home for the three of us. I started dating, which is, frankly–at times–quite terrifying. And little by little, I’ve learned to navigate it all with some measure of success. Sometimes, I’m even proud of myself for setting a reasonably positive example for my girls.
Last Tuesday was a different story. Never in my existence have I felt more like a scared little girl playing house. The girls had eaten leftover pizza earlier, and I was in the kitchen fixing myself a little dinner. I had the TV on, as severe weather was threatening to make its way into Edmond, and was halfheartedly listening to a very excited meteorologist telling me the colossal hailstorm likely wasn’t going to push too far north, when I heard the first rattles hit the metal on the chimney. And then, I heard something else. Something BIG. And LOUD.
Sara came running, already in tears. She had prepared the hall bathroom in the event of tornadic activity, carefully stocking the room with chilled Fresca, blankets, pillows, snacks, stuffed animals, and family photos. (Clearly, she was anticipating a rather long period of entrapment.) She ran directly to the window and stopped short, right at my side. We both stood there a second, our eyes wide. The hail was the size of baseballs, and there was a whole lot of it…the sound of glass breaking quickly brought me back to reality. “Sara, let’s go sit in the hallway,” I said, as calmly as possible. I collected Emily from her room, and the three of us sat in the hall, listening to the hail rain down. It seemed like forever, and at one point, I was certain the roof would cave. Every few moments, the sound of glass shattering brought a fresh scream from the youngest girl, as Emily and I shuddered. I rubbed Sara’s back while she cried. “It’s just stuff, baby. We’re okay,” I told her, over and over. Who was I trying to convince, really?
When it was over, more than half of our windows were missing. I can honestly say, cleaning up glass and hailstones from your living room and dining room floors is NOT a good time. It was late, and already dark outside, so I fashioned temporary covers made from cardboard and trash bags for the missing windows, taped up what I could, and went to bed…but I don’t think I did much sleeping. Both girls ended up in my bed that night, with at best a tentative grasp on sleep.
The next morning, at first light, I went out to survey the damage. There were holes punched in the siding and gutters and the roof was trashed…my car was a mess. My street looked a little like a war zone. My ex-husband arrived later to board up the windows, and a contractor was called in to check the roof, as more storms were expected that day. He thought it would hold, but warned me that it would need to be replaced, and quickly. I called the insurance company to file claims, and my brother helped clean up the yard. Late that afternoon, after the girls had left to stay with their dad, I collapsed in a heap and slept until the next morning.
I was reminded that day that I’m not in charge of everything that happens, and sometimes, I’m going to NEED help. There’s no way around it…and it’s okay. It’s okay to ask, and it’s okay to be scared…I confessed to a close friend after the girls were in bed that night that I felt like crying. He reminded me that I would be perfectly justified in doing so. And you know what? I didn’t dissolve or anything…
A few days later, when I learned it would be nearly three weeks before the insurance could get an adjuster to my house, I handed the girls paints and brushes. “If we have to have our windows boarded up, we’re going to make them pretty!” So they did…and it was fun. It took the sting out a little. It was the best lemonade we ever made!