I have a little sign sitting on my shelf just above the wine glasses and next to my husband’s ashes that says, “Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass but about learning to dance in the rain.”
I keep all of these little notes around the house in hopes of sending some kind of intellectually optimistic feng-shui into our lives. “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”, “Though she is little she is fierce” and my personal favorite, “I hope your day is as nice as your butt”.
That rain quote sounds great in theory but rain is annoying unless you’re sleeping, then it’s pure magic.
It makes whatever task you’re doing harder and even the slightest hint of it in the air and my hair starts twisting like snakes up my neck. I know rain has to happen, it’s part of life.
Now that I live alone with a toddler, it sometimes kind of scares me. I put on my brave mommy face and explain to her that it’s God’s tears, or giving the flowers a drink, that the thunder is simply the angels bowling… who told me these things and why do I now repeat them to my daughter?
I have this fear of the weather and the pressure of being the only one responsible for this tiny human. When I hear a storm start I silently start preparing for what I’ll grab if the tornado sirens go off. Do I know where to go? How will I keep us safe? I stare at the forecast and start messaging my family to watch for me in case I somehow miss that there’s a natural disaster brewing outside.
These are thoughts I never had before losing my husband to cancer. Maybe I was too naive bad things can happen or maybe I simply just knew he’d handle it.
In my recent quest to shake the negatives thoughts off my shoulders and get a nicer butt, which according to the sign in my bathroom will lead to nicer days, I put my wild toddler on the back of my bike and head off for adventure.
We rode down the trail and through town to meet some friends at the park followed by a 2 year old approved lunch of scrambled eggs and avocado. I was feeling pretty proud of ourselves as we walked back to our bike, when I felt it. Tiny drops from the sky.
Well what in the hell are we going to do now? I thought as I pictured the uphill ride home and tiny passenger on the back. The sky started getting gray and my only option was to go.
Hot pink kitty helmet on tight and we started our 2 and half mile ride home as the rain picked up.
A clap of thunder and I thought I was going to lose it. It’s in those moments where the responsibility for this little girl’s safety sits square on my shoulders that my sadness for Joe turns into rage. This is not fair, I think as I am 100% sure if he was alive I would have parked us in a coffee shop and waited for him to come and get us. How come all those other wives get dropped off at the door when it rains? Why do I have to do this alone?
I kept the bike steady as we started to ride though puddles and I blinked faster to keep the drops from blurring my eyes. I thought about every single thing that could go wrong. We’ll probably get hit by lightning out here. Are these tires even made for rain? This is why exercising is dangerous!!
I’ve basically convinced myself we are heading straight into an apocalypse on my suburban bike trail when I hear a little voice behind me and hands wrapped tightly around my shirt.
“This is fun mommy!!!”, she squealed.
There it was, my fierce little girl dancing in the rain.
As I let the worry of what could happen go away and felt the rain wash over my face I knew she was right, it was fun.
The crippling weight of being a parent, of making everything okay, of keeping us safe, of doing it right was the only thing keeping me going. My face became a mix of rain and tears as we kept on riding, yelling “woo-hoo” as we passed the people who were playing it safe under the tunnels.
I thought about Joe and the pressure he must have felt leaving us knowing it was his job to take care of us. How he pushed through setting up the computer files for me and writing out all of his passwords knowing he wouldn’t be here to walk me through all of the grown up stuff.
The tears he left on a letter encouraging me saying I can do it, “Be Great”, he wrote as he gave me his final push to take over his role. “I know you don’t think you can do it but you’re smarter than you think”, he wrote to me knowing I’d desperately need those words.
The fight he put up before finally leaving his body because he knew we needed him.
Yet, here we were right with him as the rain came down and we pushed along. I kept riding and I’m not sure I would have without that little minion dropping all kinds of life knowledge from the back seat.
If I learned anything that day, it’s that I can do some really hard things and I’m definitely making a Hobby Lobby run to up our good ju-ju game around the house.