Last night, around 3am, tornado sirens sliced through the darkness like a buzz saw, whirring and whining in their circular way. “GETUUUUP! getuuuup! GETUUUUP! getuuuuuup!” they screamed.
An old tree outside my bedroom window strained against the wind and creaked and groaned in pain. Its heavy branches clawed at the roof. Rain randomly drummed the windows in an odd and uneven rhythm. Lightning lit up the room and then just as quickly darted away as though trying to stay ahead of the thunder that growled deep and low in the distance like a hungry lion looking for something to devour.
But even before the wind and sirens had issued their warnings, I was awakened by another alarm, not whirring and shrill but silent and still. Not off in the distance, but deep within me — an alarm so ancient and primal that it resides in the marrow of my bones, handed down from Eve. It is an invisible hand that pulls a mother up out of her sleep like a puppet. It is an invisible someone who whispers in her ear “getupgetupgetup”. No matter your child sleeps in a room down the hall or on another continent, the shapeless, voiceless nudge of mother’s intuition warns that danger is afoot and urges, “Get up! Go! Don’t delay!”
I snatched my wedding ring off the bathroom vanity and hastily screwed it on my finger over a resistant knuckle. If all we own were to be carried away by the wind in the darkness that night, that was fine, but my wedding ring is the one material thing I would grieve.
I made my way through the dark house to Sean’s room, dodging flashes of light as I went. As I stood over him, the sirens began their plaintive wail. Somehow, I had been expecting them. I pulled my boy from his bed. He was heavy with sleep. I hoisted his warm little body up on my shoulder and turned on the flashlight. “Mommy, what’s going on?” he asked, still asleep as I carried him into the small windowless bathroom. I sat on the edge of the tub twisting my wedding ring, praying for mercy and rocking my boy. I was grateful that he was just down the hall and not a continent away.
When the sirens stopped, I carried him back to my bed, because that night, even the room down the hall seemed too far away.
We lost a few small limbs and that was about it. Not everyone escaped storm damage. Just a block away, it appears a tornado raged down the street, taking out trees and tossing them onto roof tops and cars. One of our neighbors has to retrieve their trampoline from the roof of their house.