Yesterday Raphael wanted to go to an end of summer celebration for youth group. He's just started going, as an up-and-coming 6th grader. (It was while I was driving him home from his first youth group event that I realized that he's actually a middle schooler now. This was so disconcerting that I nearly drove off the road, so I decided not to think about it. This is going fairly well, actually, as a coping mechanism. It could be complicated in a few weeks here, but la la la, I can't hear you.)
Anyhow, said youth group event was at a local reservoir - what passes for a beach bash here in land-locked Colorado. Raphael was fairly buzzing with the thrill of it all as we drove out there. Max and Tre were working with Clay at the new house, so it was just Sophia and I, dropping him off. Sophia doesn't much care for leaving her brothers in unexpected places, and then to add insult to injury, the only towel in the van was hers. So we drove away without Raphael, who was holding her towel, and she was OUTRAGED.
We had errands to run, including a trip to the grocery store. This was enough to eventually jolly her out of bellowing at me from her car seat, so soon all was well. We toddled our way through the store, where she sampled and then discarded the free kids' cookie, examined all the band-aid choices, and weighed in on the merits of flour vs. corn tortillas ("Those corn ones are nashty, Mom. You can eat my flour ones, except not all of them"). She helped me ring up our purchases, and we were done.
We headed out to the parking lot to see...clouds. Massive, ominous, gray clouds everywhere. I strapped Sophia in her seat, shooting nervous glances at the sky. Within minutes the van was being pelted with sheets of rain and a smattering of hail. Wind rocked us, and I decided I needed to go pick up my Raphael, whom I had left outside, with nothing but his sister's towel for protection.
The clouds were so thick and dark they looked like a slab of rock above us. And although they were perfectly still, they reminded me of the sort of cloud that moves just a tiny bit, off in the edge of your vision. You turn to see what moved, and almost glimpse another move out of the corner of the other eye. While you're scanning, trying to pin down what you're seeing, suddenly a patch of solid-looking cloud starts to churn...and swirl...and twist...
I'm not saying that I EXPECTED a tornado to reach down and flick my baby around the surface of the earth. I'm just saying IF it were to happen, it would be during the summer of 2012. That's all I'm saying. Plus, he was on the side of town that tornadoes prefer. And have I mentioned feeling a slight lack of security lately?
So I drove back out to get him.
Sophia was solidly on board with this plan. On the way out there, she told me all about the situation, like she was an NBC employee covering the Olympics. "It is raining very very much! And it is winding too! And we will go get Raphi! I'm not scared, and Mommy is not scared, and Raphi is probably wet because of the raining!"
As we drew close to the reservoir, the masts of several boats came into view. She recognised them from our previous trip and cried out, "OH, there are Raphi's boats! There they are! Raphi is just on the other side! We will get Raphi soon!"
It pressed against me, her joy and bright assurance. It is ridiculous, how we humans go around, letting our hearts sit naked in the world. How we pin our love for our people on the land and things that surround them. That is the best tree, because my sons' bare feet all dangled from it one summer day. This is my favorite park, because he proposed to me there. Those are Raphi's wonderful boats, because he is surely safe on the other side of them.
It is ridiculous and irrational and it makes no sense, and it is so so true.
In the end, I found Raphael with his group, holed up in a concession building, playing cards. I was rewarded for my effort with a horrified look that suggested I had ruined his life by showing up and existing in the presence of his friends. I actually left him there and went back (again) later to get him. Sophia was so relieved to finally have him safe in the van that she insisted he sit next to her, then sucker-punched him in the head the minute he looked away.
Ridiculous, all of it. And so true.