As a Texan, I grew up listening to police sirens signaling the local populace that it was time to head down to the cellar. We grew accustomed to that spring ritual and knew that most tornadoes do not actually make it down to the ground.
In fact, I credit my skill as a poker player to all the games played underground in West Texas. Even with my storied history, I was unprepared for a tornado warning in Shrewsbury.
The difference? Children.
As a parent, when the unexpected occurs you have to manage your own anxiety, and the palpable fears of your children. You may have to remind your spouse that you are a tornado expert, and he needs to get downstairs RIGHT NOW!
Late afternoon began with the usual concerns about sports practices/games happening or not happening due to the weather. In the middle of all of our deliberations, the tornado watch turned into a warning.
The sky turned gray, and our priorities started shifting. Still, we don't get twisters in this neck of the woods, do we?
Suddenly, the emergency broadcast system kicked in and a very serious sounding voice came on telling us to "take immediate shelter."
Our 1889 fieldstone basement does not exude comfort, but down we went. My daughter was shaking with fear throughout our basement stint and at one point woefully said "I didn't get to say goodbye to all my friends."
My son responded with "You might get to see them again."
All in all, it was a slow 20 minutes, but our community was not hit. We emerged from the basement unscathed.
As I think about our night I realize we cannot keep our children from bad experiences and scary situations. It is folly to try. We just want to face our tornadoes together.
Our thoughts are with all the families that are struggling with staggering losses today. May you rebuild with the support of us all.