Wednesday, April 16, 2014
On the hottest day of the year, the summer after we lost Jack, my friend Cindy and I hang out at her house, spending time together while Margaret and Cindy’s kids are at Bible camp. She shows me around her beautiful yard with its stone retaining walls built by her husband, the fish pond, the new back deck, and the enormous shade trees.
Cindy tells me that she felt Jack’s presence the day before as she stood in her garden. I don't really know what this means, because it hasn't happened to me, so I ask for details.
"I can't really explain it, Anna, but I got the impression Jack was letting me know he was protecting our house."
I don't know what to say. Why would he protect her HOUSE, not her FAMILY? And protect it from WHAT? A suburban summer? And isn't GOD the one who protects? Or maybe His angels? Cindy doesn’t know what it means either. We shrug and give each other a “What the heck?” face, as we have many times since Sept 8, realizing how little we understand about this life and the next. The mystery and surprises keep piling up, so what’s one more thing?
I go to pick up Margaret, and think nothing more of our conversation.
About five hours later, a freak thunderstorm storm called a Derecho rises suddenly in our region. It comes with very little warning, just like the fateful storm we’d had in September. In fact, Tim is out playing softball with his church league. They quickly call the game, and Tim has a frightening, dangerous drive home amid lightning, crackling power lines, and falling tree branches. Winds of 60-80 miles an hour tear through our region. Nearly 1 million people in the DC area will lose power tonight.
Cindy quickly returns from a neighborhood party just down the street as soon as the storm rises up. Her kids are by themselves, and she doesn't want them to be frightened if the power goes out. They hunker down.
Their next door neighbor, who had been in his driveway packing his car for a beach trip, stands on his front stoop to watch the crazy weather-- a brilliant show of lightning and hot, swirling wind. He hears movement at Cindy’s house and sees her enormous oak trees begin to pop, crack, and teeter in the wind. He sees them start falling directly toward Cindy’s house, then reverse and fall toward the street instead.
The wreckage includes downed trees with nearly 10 foot root balls reaching up toward the second story of her house, the beautiful stone walls knocked over and the irrigation system pulled up. From the street you can now barely see her house, and her yard looks nothing like the yard I'd seen at four that afternoon.
It will take several months, annoying insurance claims and many workmen to get Cindy's yard back in order. The only tree that hits the house is a smaller one from the neigbhor’s yard that damages the garage roof.
The body of the house is completely untouched. Cindy and her kids are inside and will be unaware of the strange scene her neighbor witnesses until the next day when they compare storm stories.
Amidst the wreckage stands a small black lamppost, upright, untouched, and still tied with a royal blue “Jack ribbon” from the previous September.
Oak tree fell toward street:
Look how close this one was to the house:
No longer a clear view of house from street because of all the trees and limbs down:
You can barely see the house. Cindy's husband is standing in front of garage. The lamp post is in the middle of the fallen trees on the left: