Emotional Ninja Attacks

When the tornado hit we were faced with children to heal and a home to rebuild so there wasn’t time to be immobilized by intense emotions.  Our minds did what they were created to do and our emotions were parceled out in bite-sized doses, some of them being saved for later when the work was done.  The work, for my family, is mostly done.   So, almost nine months after the tornado, I find myself experiencing the emotions of this journey more powerfully than I did in the insane days following May 22, 2011.

These saved emotions don’t come when I flip through pictures of the destruction or read about a person lost.  That would be too easy, too obvious!  Like stealthy, emotional ninjas, they hit when I least expect it with the most unlikely triggers.

The Incredibles is playing, a movie I’ve seen tons of times.  The bad guy is about to shoot down the jet that the super-hero mom is flying and she radios to the control tower, “There are children aboard – say again – there are children aboard this plane!” The line stops me in my tracks like a punch in the gut. 

A restaurant menu features the quote, “Something this sweet never lasts long,” and my eyes fill with tears. 

I go to grab my red sweater only to remember that it blew away.  My stomach does instant flip flops as I look around the closet that sheltered my family.

We drive by a construction site in another town and one of my kids says, “Look, Mom.  They had a tornado here too.” I have to swallow down the instant lump in my throat before I can answer.

What is most surprising to me about these emotional sneak attacks is that I haven’t been able to name the powerful emotion I keep feeling.  Is it sadness?  Loss?  Fear?  What-if’s?  All of the above? 

Then I read the new post on Strolling down the Autobahn, a beautiful blog written by Shannon, a neighbor who used to live down the road.  I saw myself in her story.  She answered my question.  What is this intense emotion I’ve been experiencing so frequently?

It’s gratitude.

It’s a mind-boggling, knee-shaking awareness of how blessed I am.  It’s becoming overwhelmed with the intensity of how much I love them.  How powerfully thankful I am for them and that I married him and that I carried them in my body and that I’ve had them all these years.

And that I still have them today. 

To quote my friend Shannon’s post:

“You see….I got to experience a PROFOUND perspective change….

without anything truly horrifically awful happening to me.

 And I don’t EVER

EVER

EVER

EVER

want to go back to the placid-take-things-for-granted-more-superficial mindset I had before this last season of my life.”

I don’t either.  So bring it on unexpected emotions.  Remind me of what I have.  Remind me as often as needed to get it through my distracted mind.  Because I don’t ever, ever want to forget.

16 thoughts on “Emotional Ninja Attacks

  1. It is true, sometimes it takes the possibility of loss to drive home how truly lucky we are. Reading about you and what you went through always makes me hold my children closer, hug the tighter, and try to reign in my temper on the bad days.

    You write about it beautifully, as always.

    Much love to you.

  2. I think it’s called “having a delayed reaction”. I do that a lot. I’m glad you’re able to see how blessed you are Amy, and not be bitter. God has given us so much, and it’s easier to appreciate those things nowadays.

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