The sun was shining when I left for a run this afternoon. By the time I finished, the sky was as dark as your brothers inky hair. I found my usual spot by the lake and sat down to stretch. Tiny drops of rain collected on my legs.
The trickle turned instantly to a downpour, and I watched as bikers and runners picked up their pace, racing to escape the midday monsoon.
A young dad with a baby strapped to his chest walked by. She looked about as old as your little sister is right now (which is exactly seven months, even though she's currently wearing your twelve month hand me downs – you were such a mini babe). I expected him to take cover under the concrete awning nearby. Instead, he stopped to my left and put his face to the sobbing sky. His tiny daughter tipped her head back, too. They stood there together, soaked, smiling.
I told him I loved their calm.
He told me, “I don’t ever want her to be afraid of standing in the rain.”
I thought immediately of you.
When I was younger, I ran a lot. Around the neighborhood, around the playground, in track and cross country. But also away from feelings, as fast as I could.
Hard days. Hard conversations. Bad news. Breakups. Conflict was my enemy. A gray cloud would approach in the far distance and I'd bolt in the other direction.
I thought I could outrun anything.
By the time my early twenties hit, I was drowning the heaviness I had tried so hard to avoid. I left school, came home for a few months, and ran straight into therapy. (I’m not sure there is a greater gift than a good therapist. I've seen so many, so many different times. The value of each session is greater than you can imagine in the moment. I hope you find one whenever you feel like you need one.)
We dug in. We deconstructed the parts. I told her I was running more than ever, to keep my head clear. She said, “instead of running to escape, run to remind yourself that even when things feel heavy, you can still move.”
I bought new shoes that day.
Now when a storm rolls in, I pull it close, look it in the eye, and carry it with me for miles. I push at its edges, flip it around, examine it from all sides. I give it the attention it needs, get to know it at my own pace. I don't fight it. I let it thrash me around, throw me off balance.
I used to be afraid that if I was knocked down, I wouldn't make it back up.
I never worry about that anymore.
On the day you were born, the local newspaper headline read "Big Storm on its Way Today." The weather gods knew you were coming. The snow was epic. Power crashed, trees toppled. It was relentless, unstoppable, the wildest of the year.
But not all storms are fierce like that. They don't all have thunder or lightening or record snowfall. Some are just drizzles or drafts or slight shifts in the wind that you might not even notice if you’re too bundled to feel degrees drop.
Some are personal. Some are work related or family related or related to things you thought were no longer even things. Some appear without warning — a single black cloud that shows up in the middle of your bright blue day and just sits there, staring, waiting.
None are worth fearing.
You’ll never drown in the rain.
It’s so beautiful.
As you move through more complicated years, be intentional about learning how to trade worry for wonder. Throw windows wide open and give those thunderous silver skies the admiration they deserve. Treat your fluctuating feelings and the shifting winds with equal appreciation. If you keep your eyes open wide enough, I think you’ll find the darkness is even more powerful, more meaningful, more transformative than the light.
When a rainy season strikes, accept it with awe. Tip your face to the sky. Let thick raindrops break against your soft skin. Waves of fear and doubt will crash into you. Let them wreck you. Broken bones heal stronger, anyway. And like every storm that came before, remember that this one, too, will eventually pass.
I love you, little stormy one.
Hadley, here are two pictures from the day we first met. See that stick in your brothers hand, the logs behind him? They're from the gigantic tree that fell in Grandma and Grandpa's backyard on the morning you were born. We made a picnic out there, and I sat on the broken tree trunk, holding you, inspecting your new face. Your little cries roared so big.