When nature finds itself out of balance, a storm erupts to restore equilibrium. I always found it incredibly ironic that storms, in all of their destructive power, are actually about restoring balance. As a man of science I inherently understand the role that storms serve in maintaining this equilibrium. Sadly, understanding something and liking something are not always simpatico. I may understand the necessary role that storms serve, but the fact remains that I hate them…
Why the disdain? That is simple… Storms don’t care. Storms don’t abide by any schedule. Storms have no mercy. No remorse. No memory. They just are. They exist because the laws of nature demand that they do… No other reason. Nature, very simply, is a double edged sword. For all of nature’s grandeur, there must also be the dull minutiae. For all of nature’s serenity there must also be disruption. It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. In terms of storms, that couldn’t be more true: Balance cannot exist without equal parts positive and negative.
Our local news today was dominated by reports that Hurricane Joaquin could potentially be headed this way. I swear you could almost feel the collective groans of everyone on Long Island upon hearing the news. “Sandy” was a collective pain shared by all of us; an unwanted visitor that brought misery to everyone. Even though we are almost three years out, there are parts of Long Island that still have not fully recovered. The idea that another storm can hit so soon after the last one makes it seem like nature isn’t playing by the rules…
For my family and I the news of the approaching storm is causing more than a groan. While the physical damage to my world wrought by Sandy was fixed right after the storm, the mental damage will always remain. Superstorm Sandy will forever be linked with the chain of events that lead to the death of my son Richie. Simple cause and effect tells me that if the storm had never come, there would be no need to expedite the cleaning of my yard and the series of events that lead to Rees’ drowning wouldn’t have happened.
I realized early on that I couldn’t dwell on those “what if’s?”. For the better part of three years I thought I did a really good job of burying those damaging thoughts deep, where they could never be disturbed. I was terribly wrong. It turns out the real storm forming in the Atlantic as we speak has stirred up an equivalent inner-storm in my, and my family’s souls. Everything I thought I had buried so deep was quickly, and decisively upturned and brought right back to the surface…
All of the sudden I find myself teleported back to a time three years ago. Here we are in the fall, waiting for a potentially huge storm to hit and having to think about the preparations we must make. It seems like every conversation I have with my wife is a repeat of the very words uttered 3 autumns ago. It all hearkens back to a time I would rather forget.
It’s not just words that are the same either. Just like before Sandy, we have two older daughters and a baby/toddler. We have a new, wonderful Au Pair who has settled in nicely in the past month. The track of the storm is similar. The timing (after a weekend) is almost the same. Everything feels like it did three years ago, except one thing: Our little boy is gone.
In a very real way both Samantha and I feel like all the similarities of this storm marks a march towards an inevitable outcome. While my eyes see radar maps showing the swirling vortex of clouds headed for us, my heart sees the grim reaper with his blades spinning getting ready to take another piece of my family. It sounds so irrational when I write that, but it is exactly how I feel. The storm that is coming feels like a march to the inevitable.
The rational me keeps trying to reassure myself that every connection I am making is merely a confirmation bias. I keep trying to tell myself that my fears are due to the personification I am giving the storm. Yet for all of that left-brained thinking, how can I understand that a storm is simply a necessary part of nature, and also think it represents death incarnate? In my mind, these two thoughts have no place together; their mere mutual existence should effectively annihilate each other. For someone like myself, who strives to make logical sense of everything, this is a problem that vexes me even further.
I think the answer is that sometimes there is no logic to be applied. There are no equations to solve. Sometimes life requires faith. Up until I lost my little boy I never really had faith in anything that I could not quantify or describe. The signs I have received from Rees in the past two years have instilled a faith in me where none existed previously. Maybe I need to look at Joaquin as neither a storm, nor death but rather as a test of my faith. I need to have faith that this storm will pass and everything will be ok. There is no data to measure – no problem that can be solved. I simply have to believe that everything will be ok. My belief in the guiding hand of my little boy’s spirit has not let me down yet. Every single time my faith has wavered, there has been an equal measure to restore it. In the end, maybe this inner storm I am experiencing is my soul’s way of restoring balance to the faith I have. Bring it on Joaquin… You may be powerful, but I have faith – a faith that continues to grow, one little piece at a time…
and no… I don’t plan on taking it this far – but I think I know how Lt. Dan felt now…
hello my friend. Your heart felt honesty moves me to a place where I think I can feel your pain and my insides turn so uneasy feeling for you guys. I know I’m not even close though. My heart hurts for you all with this $hit storm. I wish I could make it all go away. I always believed in faith because it was the way I was raised with my four younger sisters. Sometimes I questioned it, but it was only in times that something bad happened in the world or worse yet, when someone dear and close to me was taken away. Strange thing though was that was also when I needed my faith the most. I needed to believe that there was a better place. Who believes that?? It’s not fair!! It’s all wrong. The circle of life sucks!!! Until I saw signs. Reals signs that made me believe differently. Something even BIGGER than a storm. You happen to be an inspiration to so many people, mostly those beauties you live with and protect and love more than yourself. And for the record I think your going to weather this storm with little Richie on your shoulder, because you together, my friend are moving mountains in all our worlds. You got this. It must be exhausting to keep your chin up all the time and smile when ppl are trying to pick you up. Days ya don’t wanna get up. It sucks so bad. You are a true champ rich! Your family is beyond a pleasure to be with. Stay close this weekend. Don’t let this take the wind out of your sails. I am so proud of all you guys do. Thank you!
I would not be able to imagine your feelings hearing about this storm, but you, as usual, write so beautifully. God bless you and your family as you weather another storm.
Thank you for your mission to promote kindness in the name of your beautiful son Richie.
You are an inspiration. I got chills reading this. Thank you for being the inspiration that you are to so many. I admire your faith and strength.
Tanya, Thank you so much for your kind words. I never feel like an inspiration, I feel I’m just honest about what my heart feels. It’s been too long since I’ve written anything, and I forgot how cathartic it is ❤