Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Leaving My Heart Behind

Tomorrow morning around sun-up, I will take my well-packed car and drive away with my kids. I will drive away from the eye of something that might take away my life as I know it. And this scares me, but I do not hesitate to leave. I do this for my children.

But, I will be leaving a piece of me behind. My heart. Because instead of loading up with us and leaving for safety, my husband will be staying here and holding down the fort. He will be possibly waiting until the last minute to drive away if he has to, and may not drive away at all. He has elderly parents who are refusing to leave their home which is 30 minutes away from us. His father is in poor health and wheelchair bound. His mother has a bad back and can't lift his father to safety. So, my husband may be driving in risky flood waters to reach them and rescue them. Or, he might be huddled in our coat closet listening to the winds break our windows or feel the sudden calm followed by the roaring locomotion of a tornado above his head.

He will be here alone, to fend for our pets, to guard our belongings, and to make sure everything is OK. I may not be able to call him for days. I may not be able to know he is OK for days. And, this is killing me inside. I have literally had chest pains since this afternoon. I think it is complete anxiety, because I know in my heart we should not be separated like this.

It would probably be OK if we stayed. We do not live on the water or that close to it. But, the storm watchers predict surges gusting at 100-125 miles an hour by the time it reaches us. I have lived through tornadoes, actually knuckling through one of the worst tornados in the history of our country--just 20 miles from my home. Tornados are unpredictable and devastating. Worst of all, they are completely random in their torture.

I have also lived through a flood. My home flooded when I was in the 6th grade, and I evacuated then. My parents drove me to my Grandmother's house in the middle of the night. I went to school the next day, while my parents and all my neighbors and friends were paddling in row boats, desperately trying to save anything in their homes while the waters rose. I had other classmates ask me, "Why are you HERE? Isn't your house under water? Don't you want to HELP?"

Perhaps this is partly why this is hard for me. You see, I had to leave before, and wasn't allowed to be there to help when I could have and wanted to so badly. And, I am leaving now, and I will be six hours away and not able to help the most important person in my life when he might need my help the most.

But, I will leave tomorrow for my children, and only for them. If I did not have children, I would stay and be here to help my friends and neighbors clear tree branches, or give them water if they ran out. I would be here to hug my husband if the winds scared us and hold him close to me. We could be brave together as a couple.

My heart will remain in Houston tomorrow. And I pray that if it floods, he will stay dry. If it gusts, he will stay sheltered. I pray most of all that my heart will be safe and always know I need him so much in my life.

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