S-’s grandma died tonight. It’s got me thinking about storms. Helps that it’s raining. I texted, “I know right now it’s a tornado. Just remember I’m not afraid of the storm.” She took it as me thinking she was afraid. It had nothing to do with that.
I like storms. All kinds of storms. Most people hate them or are afraid. But I don’t mind getting wet. I also don’t mind putting myself in danger most of the time for a good cause. I stop on the freeway to help people who are stuck. I talk to homeless people. I give money to strangers. I salt the chickens and empty the whitehouses. I search for people who are in danger. I listen. Instead of running from the fire or crisis, I walk towards it.
When I am in crisis or someone I love has died and I am devastated I find that most people are afraid of the storm. They mean well and say things like “they’re in a better place” or “I’m here if you need anything” or “I’ll pray for you.” But when it’s 3am and I’m pissed at God ‘cuz it’s not fair and I haven’t showered in a week and am a mess from crying, calling them will not yield support. I don’t need to hear that it will all be okay or that time heals or that they know how I feel. They don’t. And it makes me mad.
I do my best to be the friend who brings an umbrella for you but is not afraid to brave the storm. To sit with you in the rain until you’re ready to come inside. I’m no stranger to hospitals, 3am phone calls, people crashing on my couch, safety missions, long text or IM conversations. And I don’t bullshit. I choose my words carefully. Silence is often more powerful than words.
I know what it’s like to walk alone in the rain. To have someone who walks with me for awhile, who listens, who’s not scared of my plight and respects me – that is a Godsend, a gift I pay forward.
I may be terrified of my own storm, but holding hands through yours makes me stronger.
© Michelle Routhieaux 2010