It’s been wonderful. It’s been terrifying.
I live in a land of extremes.
And life feels extreme these days.
We’ve had a killer streak of weather in Oklahoma since May 19. Thirty nine dead. I was in a leveled mobile home park. Then a morgue. A disaster zone – the city of Moore. A newsroom.
And then my family was in a newsroom. The Oklahoman has some sturdy tornado shelters. This week, the staff worked out of one. The sirens blared in Oklahoma City and Mark threw the kids in our mom van and raced over here. My co-workers took cover and I ran outside to my car then sped out to the gate to let Mark and the kids in with my key card. The rain started to pound. We gunned it inside.
A storm system churned and churned, right toward my city, directly toward my neighborhood.
In our storm shelter under the newsroom, Laila played with little girls whose family members work at my company. Mark scared his family with weather dramatics on the phone, cradling a calm Eli in his left arm, walking back and forth. I listened to the police scanner and took notes. A man drowning in a car. People trapped in rising floodwater. Snapped trees. Downed power lines, everywhere. It was chaos outside.
Our photographers saw horses running around on the highway. The storm picked up and pitched semis. This one killed on the roads, mainly. People tried to flee. There are rumors a local weather person told them to flee. I don’t know if that’s true or if people were thinking of Moore, the seven school children crushed in a sturdy building, when they got in their cars. Even the pros – three storm chasers – perished. Thirteen dead so far. A mother and baby sucked out of a car. A family swept away after for some reason taking cover in an under-the-road storm drain.
The system hit the metro hard but the most dangerous stuff veered away from my neighborhood, off toward the center and south of the city. Our dead tree stands at attention still. We didn’t even lose power. Our street, however, turned into the white water rapids shortly after Mark returned from hiding out at my work bunker. I left work for home hours later in a lull between storms. The water had receded on my street. It was 2:30 in the morning.
In between all of that, all Mark and I have been able to do is tread water, home life-wise. Our fridge is bare. Our home its own kind of disaster zone. He finished his first school year as a public school teacher of geography and English as a second language. Our nanny got sick last week. I took off work and ended up at the zoo mid-week with he and his students for an end-of-the-year field trip. I was hanging out with newcomers to this country. Thailand, China, Myanmar, Guatemala, Mexico. His favorite student of mine became Laila’s best friend. He is homeless. My other favorite student called herself “The black unicorn.” She’s a little strange, but smart.
I managed to sign Laila up for ballet class and make a play date.
I finished my piece on CF for The Oklahoman with the help of a lot of smart, hard-working people. Without them, it would have been a big, boring block of uninviting text riddled with typos.
I’m happy with the way it turned out.
I felt at peace, all day today, even as I really shared a lot. Every tawdry detail of my life? No. Still, quite a lot. New video and audio, too.
Here is the piece.
I heard from a few readers today, and I’ve asked a few of them if it would be OK to share what they had to say. A man wrote me who has CF. He’s 70. That gives me hope for my son. He made a good point about the Delta F508, the defective gene that causes CF, and the most common variation of the gene that causes the disease – about 90 percent of people have one copy. Eli has two.
Science is close to harnessing it – is the way I think he put it. Reigning it in. Getting it to behave.
Getting the gene to act in a way that will save my son’s life.
In other news, Eli has an appointment at the CF clinic this week. I’m going to ride Charlie the horse again. And my in-laws arrive in town tomorrow. We will eat well, toss back wine and play a lot of cards. I’m looking forward to it!