The Rain Wrapped Tornado

The road to Hell, as it turns out, is paved with asphalt.
We found that out the hard way on a steamy June morning in 2011 as I, the bride, and my soon to be husband Alex headed for our wedding ceremony. It all sounds so incredibly dramatic, or maybe that’s just my writing style, but honestly – the tone matches the hurdles we had to jump over to get to our day. First off, Michigan in the summer is NOT PLEASANT if you’re not planning to be in a building with air conditioning or are close to the water. We landed in Detroit, flying in from Alaska, on May 31st, 2011 and were greeted by 95-103 degree weather for the days leading up and right after our wedding.
It’s not just hot in Michigan. People sometimes forget that it’s a state surrounded by water on all sides. No..not only do you have 103 degrees, but you’re also greeted with anywhere between 70 and 95% humidity without it raining – walking into a hot brick wall type heat. I had joked that I thought Alex and any of our out of town guests were likely to melt. Even the air was hot. I could smell the concrete and tar with every breath I took almost on a daily basis. For me this was normal though – I was born and raised in Michigan and summers being like this was nothing new. What also didn’t come as a big surprise were thunderstorms, and lots of them. It stormed at night for several days before it finally happened – tornado sirens at 2am. Again, having grown up here, I’m used to this. It doesn’t make it less scary, but I grew up being taught what to do should a tornado come a-spinnin` toward you and your home: Get to the basement or most closed off bathroom in your house on the main level, cover your head, and hope like hell that you don’t get a direct hit. This was no different. The sirens went off at 2 in the morning and I jumped into action – or so I thought. Turned out that the first sound of the sirens woke my normally very calm fiancé up quicker than me. Not only was he awake, but he was quickly grabbing my wedding dress, his tux, and anything we’d need to leave the state and go home later that week. I told him to drop it all, we needed to get to the basement.
“We’re getting married one way or the other” he blurted while picking up way more items than he could hold, as though my suggestion to get to the basement meant I’d called the wedding off.
“I’d marry you in ripped jeans and a plaid button-down t-shirt in the middle of the rubble. Drop the shit and let’s go!”
Luckily, we didn’t get hit by any tornado that evening. We’d laugh about that whenever we told our wedding story, though – how against all the odds we’d faced up to that point, mother nature almost took our asses out before we could tie the knot. While nothing that happened after that morning was even close to killing us, Mother nature reared her ugly head again about 5 minutes from our ceremony site. The temperature dropped from the 90s into the cool upper 60s and then, as I’m begging the clouds to hold, they let loose. It poured for almost an hour. Our beautiful outdoor ceremony was moved into Screams Ice Cream in Hell, Michigan and we became the first couple to ever get married inside the famous Halloween store. Our ceremony lasted about 10 minutes and then we finished signing our marriage license around 11:15am. Right after my pen moved up from the paper, the rain stopped – as if it was only there to push us into the store and nothing else. I remember thinking it very odd. My Grandma Yax loved Halloween..and I couldn’t help but hear Holes in the Floor of Heaven going through my head at that very moment. A blessing from the Gods, as it were. Rain is also considered to be a sign of good luck for a marriage when it happens on your wedding day.
Fast forward to our 5th wedding anniversary – June 10th, 2016. Alex had been put in the hospital for what would turn into a month-long stay earlier that morning. He was severely water logged (over 120lbs of water) and his heart was struggling. Everyone knows this story, I think, and it isn’t the point of this post. The point is that when I came back that evening, he ordered up some hospital cheesecake and a small pint of strawberry Haggen Dazs, we kissed, we laughed, and we celebrated. If there’s one thing we were damned good at it was turning a potential negative into a positive – a love that could stop the world from spinning if we wanted it to.
Yesterday would have been year 6 for us, and it was my first without him by my side. I struggled for days up ahead of it, feeling again the magnitude of change that has been so ever present this last year, and feeling again the magnitude of his loss. Yeah…I talk about this a lot. And yeah, I’m sure it gets annoying to see his name on the pages I write and hear his name on my lips more often than not, but you have to understand that it was like this even when he was alive. For me, there is nothing more therapeutic than the sound of my memories right now, especially on days when the pain of them being a finite resource is almost tangible.
I’d like to think that he’s somewhere, a stone’s throw or thought away, knowing that I put one foot in front of the other because a love as strong as ours doesn’t just end – it transcends.
So….Happy Anniversary in the Summerlands, babe. May there be drinks a plenty, fish willing to bite, and knowledge that I’m still standing in your memory.

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