While on occasion a storm will hit out of nowhere, that is most often not the case. Usually, there are warning signs. Meteorologists study wind and weather patterns, such as the jet stream and El Nino, in order to predict what the weather might be. Most people on the Atlantic coast in the southeastern portion of the United States know that June is the typical beginning of hurricane season. A hurricane does not simply hit the coast of Florida without warning. On the contrary, meteorologists had most likely been tracking the storm as it began to form hundreds of miles off the coast. As the storm moves and intensifies, it is named, and its track is projected so that any in its path will have ample time to prepare and even evacuate if necessary. This past spring, my husband and I spent a weekend at Cocoa Beach. On one of our days there, we drove from the beach inland to Orlando to meet family. I noticed signs along the highway we were on that indicated that road was an evacuation route.
The current storm in my life had warning signs as well. The rustling of the leaves indicating a change in pattern began about three years ago. It was August of 2013, and after twenty-three plus years as a full time mom, I had worked myself out of that job. It was that month that my “baby” turned eighteen. I remember wondering how my life would change now that not only was I finished homeschooling, but I was also no longer legally responsible for anyone but myself. I look back at journal entries from that month and realize now that it was these months that contained the building of the dark clouds that would eventually grow into a storm so fierce that survival would be doubtful.
Those early clouds, though, were far off in the distance. There were days that I enjoyed the freedom that came with no longer having to plan school work, grade school work, fight over school work… I packed away school things and thought of all the time I would have to read and garden and spend with my husband. I was, at this point, four months into my MS diagnosis. I struggled some days with fatigue and dizziness, but most days were manageable. The storm had not yet fully developed. Plus, I still had two adult kids who lived at home, so there was still many loads of laundry to do, meals to cook, groceries to buy for two picky eaters, and bathrooms to clean. My nest was not empty yet. There were many days I wish that it was though. Having adult children living at home was not always easy. I was in uncharted territory as a parent. Could I still impose rules, such as curfew, on them? Did I still have a right to ask them where they were going to be and who they were going to be there with? Did I have any grounds in asking them to do household chores or keep their rooms clean or be home at a certain time for dinner? I just didn’t know the answer to these questions. In addition, the two adult kids who were not living at home full time occasionally came home to stay. Summer brought one home full time each year and other times of the year, another would come with a boyfriend for a holiday visit. What authority did I have in their lives? In the midst of all this confusion, I found myself noticing the building storm clouds off in the distance. And while I paid some attention to them, wondering if maybe I should be preparing for something big that would happen, mostly I woke up and did the life that was before me each day. I did laundry, cooked meals, went to church, cleaned what needed to be cleaned, and enjoyed, for the first time ever, the opportunity to travel with my husband as he went on business trips…one of the perks of having adult children at home to watch the pets.
This would all change, of course. Hindsight is 20-20. I wish I had been able to see what would eventually turn into a raging, dangerous storm. Perhaps I would have been better prepared for it when it hit with force beyond anything I had experienced in a long while. The clouds I noticed, but didn’t feel pressed to deal with, would eventually build into a major storm. That storm, though, was still way off in the distance.