An Anniversary To Forget … Again

I had several different blog topics rolling around in my head for this entry. And then came Monday afternoon.

Darkened skies, constant weather alerts, rain pounding against the windows, pea-sized hail and tornado sirens. My hands began to shake, my stomach started to ache. I literally thought I was going to be sick.

I thought I was over this.

I thought enough time had passed that tornado warnings wouldn’t scare me as much. In recent years, I was more apt to watch the weather out the window than to run to the basement.

And then came Monday.

I don’t know if many of you realized it, but Monday was the 22nd anniversary of a night of horror for residents of Chandler, Lake Wilson and, a little farther to the north, Clarkfield.

I was living in Clarkfield that summer of 1992, working as a 4-H Summer Assistant just a block away from my shared apartment above the town’s post office.

I remember the heat and humidity of that day — June 16, 1992. As I went to work on this day — June 16, 2014 — those thoughts were in the back of my mind. I found myself comparing Monday morning’s humidity to the sultry weather back then. It didn’t seem quite as bad this time around, but then 22 years is enough time to forget certain things.

As the storms began to pop Monday, the dormant fears returned.

My concentration was gone, my productivity wiped out.

I couldn’t sit still.

Unlike that summer night in Clarkfield, where I knew relatively few people in town, the thought of a storm passing through here brought with it a whole set of worries for family and friends.

Are my parents OK down on the farm? Is my nephew out doing weather spotting in Ellsworth? Are the neighbor kids in the basement? Who, what, when, where … why do I have to worry so much!

I’ve managed to keep the tears at bay, but it’s nearly 9 on Monday night and I’m still at the office. I know the tears are creeping up on me — it’s just the culmination of a stressful day.

Thank God we escaped the tornadoes this time. We can live with water in the basement, downed trees and branches, flooding in our streets — at least we still have the roof over our head.

The images I carry with me from the Clarkfield tornado — escaping my apartment by walking on broken glass, stepping over and around downed trees, walking through knee-high water, sharing my grandmother’s quilt with an elderly woman shaking as badly as me, and finding corn kernels embedded in the dining room wall of my apartment — those are things I will never forget.

It took Monday’s storm to remind me that I will never truly be over the horror of that June day in 1992, as much as I want to wipe it from my memory.

Today is a new day and I, for one, am hoping for sunshine.