T is for the Thunderstorm of April 2012


“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents…” 

No, I am not entering the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.  Nor am I making a feeble attempt at melodramaticism or trying to be funny.

One year ago this evening, there was a major thunderstorm in the Seattle-Tacoma area.  And my emotions were equally as tumultuous as the storm brewing around me.

It had been only nine days since I had landed in the emergency room at the Army hospital.  After 10 hours of poking and prodding, repeating my symptoms to every level of the medical staff over two shift changes, and a CT scan later, a woman wearing the gold oak leaf rank of major and calling herself, “Doctor,” came into my room asking me for the umpteenth time about what brought me to the ER, and then coldly and abruptly announced: “You have a mesenteric tumor and lesions on your liver.  Any questions?” before she left my room to attend to other patients.

The week that followed seemed to rob me of much of the joy of the anticipation of finally meeting a dear friend from Europe after nearly 12 years of being  acquainted. He was coming from Holland to Seattle for business.

And now, on his final day in the area,  I found myself driving northbound on I-5 into a downpour not usually seen here in the Pacific Northwest, windshield wipers unable to provide a clear vision of the road ahead.

The tears streaming from my eyes at that moment clouded my heart and any hope for enjoyment of life or the people who were in it.

The conundrum I was facing was whether or not I would share what was going on in my life at that moment.  I had always felt that I was responsible for others’ feelings of sadness and discomfort, guilt and shame, and every other difficult emotion.  (Funny that I rarely gave myself credit for joy.)

I nearly called to cancel dinner plans because I knew that I could not hold anything in any longer. The thundercloud inside of me was so saturated that I could not see any other way but to share the news and dampen the mood of the evening, making everyone around me miserable.

I think I was sobbing when I called my friend, Sami, and shared my fears with her about being vulnerable with people that are important to me.  She was one of the few I had shared exactly what I was facing in so many aspects of life.

The week before, Sami and I crossed the Tacoma Narrows Bridge together finding the beauty in those special moments that two friends share. It was four days after my ER visit and I was numb from the news. (Click to read the blog entry and see the pictures.)

As I cried on the phone to Sami, not certain if I should go or turn around and stay home, she spoke the very words I needed to hear.  They were not new to me, nor were they foreign to my lips, having spoken them to others many times before.

“Listen to your heart.”

When we hung up, I saw the blackest, most ominous cloud, directly in front of me.

“Listen to your heart, Coral.”

I repeated this mantra for what seemed to be countless times.

As I continued to drive into the darkness that awaited me, something very peculiar (to me) started unfolding.  Though no longer the “religious” person of my youth, I could not dispute that something amazing was happening.

A sign.  A promise.

What appeared in front of me was the most vibrant, virile, full rainbow I had ever seen in my 56 years.  I could see where each end touched the ground.  And it was completely saturated with color, as if I could reach out and touch it.  The strength and the energy it portrayed was magnificent. I continued driving toward it until I was nearly under its canopy.

As I looked up, another rainbow appeared.  It was also a full, complete rainbow, though much lighter.  Each side disappeared into the stronger rainbow, as if it were being held up by the stronger of the two.

As I drove through this double rainbow, the rain disappeared into a softer, springtime shower.  By the time I reached Seattle the sky had lightened and it had stopped raining.

That evening, I was able to enjoy the special moments that two friends share, just as I did a week earlier with Samantha.

“Nick” and I had such a grand time at El Gaucho in Seattle. Delicious food and wine. Conversation that spanned silliness and seriousness. Music and dancing.  Connection between friends that was shared from a place of honesty and vulnerability, that spanned the years and the distance between continents.

We shared honest laughter and tears. Vulnerability. Genuineness. In-the-moment living.

Pure joy.

In spite of all the dark clouds of life, when we can remain present in those moments  with those whom we truly share a connection, it is not necessary for us to put on a charade and hide from the difficulties we face, or the sadness, fear and pain that accompanies us. We learn to accept what others can offer as strength to carry us through the roughest of times, just as we would do for them.

Yes, we can experience so much more joy, peace, love, hope, friendship and connection,  if  only, we will…

…listen to our hearts.

042612 Happy
My friend, “Nick,” took this picture and when he did, he said, “Now, this is a picture of a happy woman.”

6 thoughts on “T is for the Thunderstorm of April 2012

  1. Hearts are wonderful Multi-function organs, they pump the life blood we all need to live, they carry our love and each special person in our lives has a small piece of them, but above all that they talk to us. A heart can guide us through the Thunderstorms of life and take us around the pot holes in the road. A heart will, as pointed out in the above piece of prose take us where we should be when there seems to be no clear direction. The thing I have found from my short lived experiences, I believe there is a guide or protector and that “protector” tells our heart what to tell us in any given situation. As to who or what that “protector” is I will leave to each individual person.

    Me I guess I am still that “religious” person from my youth, but that is all based on the path we go down in life and where that path takes us.

    Again thank you for inspiring my less than loquacious writing abilities.

    1. I’m not so sure, Gary, that you are any more “less than loquacious” than I am. But I thank you for reading, and sharing your thoughts and ideas here with me. And I’m grateful that you looked me up after 47 years. Of course, I was just a mere baby. Let me, at least, keep that fantasy alive. 😉

  2. Pingback: I Am a Survivor! | Beyond Life's Challenges

  3. Reblogged this on Beyond Life's Challenges and commented:

    It’s been two years since I submitted this post for a blogging challenge. It shares a heartfelt story about where I was the previous year, fearful of what was in store for me, my family and my friends.

    Much has transpired in these last several years, the least of all has been learning more about life and the people we include in our lives. None of the lessons we receive are for naught, if we are willing to stay open to the possibilities that each day, each moment, gives us.

    Never forget to listen to your heart.

  4. Coral, I am always inspired by your fearless ability to share so transparently. I am enjoying reading about what is going on, in your own personal journey.
    Thank-you so much for your honesty, & continued dedication to sharing from your heart.
    These are the words that come to mind when I read your writing:
    Inspiring! Compelling! Sobering! Encouraging! Enlightening! Challenging!
    I thank God that you have continued to do so well, It is nice to see you looking so healthy, & happy!
    I was not getting your posts for some reason, so I have some reading to catch up on! Blessings, J.

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