This morning, as I open the cover on our hot tub and slide down into warm water, looking up through bright yellow leaves to a clear blue November sky, I am greeted nearly instantly by our little hummingbird who comes to the yellow flowers Kevin has planted, ones that now tower over the corner of the tub. He has come to say good morning and as I am filled to the depths of my being with joy over his presence, I remember where I was just a few short hours before.
I drove through the heaviest winter storm of the season, waves of rain pouring down from the upper level of the Oakland Bay Bridge, waterfalls on my windshield. We sat in nearly-stopped traffic on the approach, red tail lights blurry through the glass, as sheets of rain buffeted vehicles inching their way toward the bridge.
HIGH WINDS ON BRIDGE the sign flashed ahead and I was so very thankful I was traveling eastbound, on the lower level where those high winds wouldn’t cause the sway I would feel up on top. I’d done that, gripping the wheel against the gusts, imagining how it might be to have a sudden gust sweep me off into the cold water below. The rain came down in such heavy waves; it was like being in a high powered jetted car wash. I sat still, listening to it drum on the roof and windows, looking about at other vehicles, hoping everyone had a dry, leak-free car, remembering times when I did not. I noticed one sad little Toyota truck with a smashed-in driver’s door; there was a sizable gap around the top window edge; I hoped he wasn’t getting soaked inside. I said a prayer that I was warm and dry inside my car. Then, the sky lit up with a brilliant flash of lightening, the bolt bright and jagged across the skyline and I cracked my window just a bit and waited anxiously for the thunder, which came nearly instantly, shaking the bridge and everyone on it. How exciting to be here in a warm glass bubble, watching this storm that was pummeling the city, sending torrents into storm drains and down the streets sweeping along leaves in the gutters. I imagined all those who were out in this, scurrying for cover, huddling back in doorways with thin sheets of plastic, the cold soaking into their too-thin clothes, rain dripping off scraggly beards of homeless men and I said a prayer for them, and I thanked God for putting me in a safe, dry spot.
I am sure there were those who agonized over the traffic which didn’t move for nearly an hour. I am sure that there were tempers and headaches and folks anxious over the delay to get to their destinations. I was grateful I had a place to be dry and warm, greatful that I was able to watch this storm with a bird’s eye view of the bridge, the city and the bay, grateful that I had plenty of gas in the tank (I’ve watched a needle on “E” many a time, praying that I would not see that light come on, knowing that there was no money in my wallet to stop). I knew it would take me longer to get home than normal; I knew that I would have to drive much slower than I liked, and I knew that I was right where I was supposed to be – all alone with my thoughts of the day, the day that I spent with over 100 family members who all gathered together to learn more about the ongoing efforts of the military to recover their loved ones – ones lost in our nation’s battles from WWII to Korea to Vietnam. All the information I’d been exposed to during the day was sitting in my head and heart, soaking in as this rain was pouring down from the heavens, soaking into Mother Earth.