Have you ever had a near death experience? Done something that had to be done and almost paid for it with your life? Have you ever almost sacrificed your life for a noble cause?
But, on Monday night I did almost leave my children with no mother so that I could go to a movie.
My friend Heather and I had planned several days in advance to go see the movie. We were pumped. She’s a new mother, I’m an (old) mother, and we were so excited about popcorn, relaxation, and beautiful on screen people to mindlessly stare at for a couple of hours. As our meeting time grew closer, I noticed that it was getting really dark outside, even though it was still daytime. Big dark clouds were rolling in, and when I checked the weather radar there was LOTS of red, and a severe thunderstorm warning was afoot.
I wish I could say that I’m the type who doesn’t get nervous when it storms. I’d like to tell you that I’m not bothered by bad weather, that I didn’t spend many hours of my childhood nervously watching clouds to see if I could see any tornadoes dropping from them. We lived in the country, and there were no warning sirens or weather reports to rely on at that time–we just had to watch the clouds and watch our dog Scout’s behavior to determine whether we needed to hit the cellar. Scout loved being outside and if he ever tried to come into the house we knew we’d better take cover. He also hated going into the cellar, and during storms when he refused to go in with us, I don’t know where he hid out, but we knew it was ok to come out when we couldn’t open the cellar door because he was sitting on it. It seems like I spent a lot of time fretting about storms when I was a kid.
And, it probably didn’t help matters when a tornado showed up in our small town when I was a third grader. We had to shuffle into the halls at school and crouch with our hands over our heads while the tornado sirens wailed. It felt like Armageddon. That storm was bad enough that the Abilene TV stations came out to cover it, and my uncle had a hard time living down the interview during which he said, “Well, we thought it was really more of a little twister than a tornado…”
Those were big times in my small town. But, the dark, greenish alien planet-looking clouds stuck in my mind and I have never liked seeing that look in clouds that are in my skies.
But, I’ll tell you one thing I hate worse than tornadoes: being thought of as a wimp. Yes, I admit it. I have pride issues. But, I was not about to let my friend Heather think for one second that I could not handle the little storm that was brewing on our movie night.
It hadn’t started raining yet, and I texted her just to nonchalantly check in. I told her the radar looked bad and inquired about her thoughts on the matter, being careful not to give any indication that I had a knot in the pit of my stomach. She texted back, “It’s up to you. I’ve never been afraid of storms.” Well, what is any self-respecting red blooded American girl going to say to that but, “Ok. Just checking since you have a ways to drive.” As if I was mainly concerned that she would be afraid. Liar.
Anyway, by the time I left my house, the tornado sirens were going off. The torrential rain had started. And I couldn’t get through a single song on the radio without the special weather alerts breaking through. You might think this would’ve been a good time for me to back out. No sir. I kept right on driving.
Once I got to a point when I could no longer see the yellow stripe on the road and couldn’t hear my radio for the deluge that surrounded my car, I honestly thought that I was going to have a heart attack. I called Chad and told him so, loudly, since I couldn’t hear myself over the pounding rain.
Somehow God got me to that dang movie theater. When I drove up I left my umbrella in the car and ran up to the theater through the monsoon, not even noticing that I was getting soaked. All I knew was that there were people inside there. Glorious civilization! I honestly had to fight the urge to get down and kiss the sticky floor of that theater. I felt like I had finally landed on a gorgeous desert island after days of floating on a stormy sea! And seeing my friend’s face calmly walk trhough the door, nice and dry under her red umbrella, I felt sheer bliss. We had made it. We’d survived. I was so happy to be alive that I spent ten dollars on popcorn and a Coke.
While I sat through the movie, soaking wet, I couldn’t help but think that this scary adventure was going to be a happy memory for me. After all, I had faced a fear, gotten extra butter on my popcorn, and shared an interesting night with a good friend. If I had died out there on the road, my last thought probably would’ve been, “Well, THIS was a stupid idea.” But, isn’t it great when things work out just fine, when heart atacks are avoided and cars find their way where they need to go and friends can be together? Life is good.