It’s after midnight, and my heart is still wide awake, set in racer action by the very sudden tornado warning that propelled our family, dragging or carrying cats and dogs, into the basement at top speed. It started like this:
Caryn (while filling out fafsa form on computer): The dog went back to hiding in the closet although the storm passed. Do you think she knows of another one coming?
Ken (on computer checking weather): There is another one coming.
Caryn: Is it moving fast?
Ken: Let me check. Wow — it’s moving 80 miles per hour.
Caryn: When is it supposed to get here?
Ken: Very soon (refreshes page). GET IN THE BASEMENT RIGHT NOW!
It turned out Ken was watching radar just at the moment the winds started moving like a big tornado about to land right over our house. Clutching my computer against my chest, I dragged the terrified Labaraner out of the closet to join the terrified Labmation already in the basement, and we ran. Once in the storage space way underground, Ken called his mom to get her to move to her basement, then ventured out to rescue Mikayo, the lovey cat, and ran back down with her in his arms. I held the dogs in place, my heart racing. Forest texted people at the speed of light. Daniel yelled, “Don’t go, Dad!” fearing that Ken was risking his life for a kitty. We considered trying to rescue Judy the PTSD cat, but she hides too well in such situations.
So we hunkered down for about ten minutes. Then it was over. No tornado, storm to our east, and the warning canceled. Walking back upstairs, we heard the sirens, just starting to go off, and Daniel was blown away to see the moon already rising beyond the clouds.
Now that the time has slowed, the sky has calmed, and the dogs, men and boys of my house are snoring in various rooms, I land back in that moment when we headed downstairs, the sudden wondering if there’s anything to grab beyond animals and computers and clear warning that there isn’t time; the careful rush down stairs and into the way-back of our basement, the opening of computers to track tornadoes, asking Ken if people we love in this area are okay or if I I should call them. It’s a compressed time when a warning wraps around us, and everything falls away but the need to hold and protect the beings you love, call those in the path, and stay as far underground as possible, not knowing if once again, it’ll be nothing, or eventually, it’ll be something that changes our lives.