In 1998 I lived in Hawkins, Texas. My ex-husband and I had a little old house set into a grove of trees. The whole town was probably 900 people. Our nearest neighbors were on the other side of a huge line of scrub oak trees that had been there for probably 50 years. We were about 35 miles from Tyler, the closest town of any size and my husband worked there 4-1/2 days a week as a live-in guidance counselor to troubled boys. That meant that my little boy and I were on our own most of the time. He was three and I cherished the time with him. Even when he tried to feed our VCR a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
We'd been there about a year and a half when one night we started hearing tornado watches pop up on the local TV broadcasts. I put him to bed and tried to stay up to make sure that nothing was coming close. We were really out in the middle of nowhere and I wasn't sure if any emergency personnel would give us any notice of damaging winds or tornados.
I had been getting an odd premonition the oak trees for about six months. Every time that I looked at those scrub oaks I would feel a shiver and a voice kept telling me to get them cut down. My chance finally came one day when the power company came out and started trimming dead limbs away from the transformer behind our house. I'm not a bit ashamed to say that I paid those nice guys under the table to take down those oaks. Unfortunately, our neighbor had a fit about the one that straddled our mutual property line. He was adamant that I leave that one alone. My husband thought I had lost the plot too. He couldn't figure out why I was on such a tear when those trees gave us privacy and shaded our small yard. I couldn't explain it. I took to watching them every time a storm came through.
Well, this one night the watch boxes were blinking red all over the area map. Except for our little county. I fell asleep about 5am when the maps started showing the storm line moving on to the northeast at about 35 miles per hour.
My son was up early and I fed him his little breakfast and put him in the corner of the living room in his playpen to watch Toy Story. He loved that film so much that I said a quiet "Thank you, God" when it broke on the 1000th play. This morning he was quiet and still sleepy so I got his favorite blanket and settled him to watch the movie while I did the few breakfast dishes.
I had a window right over the sink and as I looked out, the sky turned an ugly, sickly green. If you've ever seen the Wizard of Oz, you'll know that neon green glow that shot through the early morning light. My hair was standing up on my arms and I quickly threw down the dish towel and took two steps toward the living room. As I did, there was a rumble that shook the house and screaming wind that sounded like a freight train. You felt it as much as heard it. I could barely keep my feet and keep heading toward the living room.
There was a crack and the whole house shook. I stood there with my mouth open and looked out of the window. There was that one big oak tree. The wind grabbed it and twisted it right off at the base and I watched it lift into the air. The wind flipped it upside down and sent it like a pile driver through my living room ceiling. In the back of my mind I could hear someone screaming and screaming. I kept thinking "why don't they SHUT UP!" then I realized that it was me and my son was buried somewhere under that tree. I screamed so hard that my voice was only a whisper for days. The living room was gone except for the sky through the ceiling and giant broken branches dripping with rain. I really think that at that moment I lost my sanity and sank down onto the floor in shock. Something kicked in and I started clearing branches with my bare hands.
I was working with tears running down my face. The phone has been in the living room. It was gone. Then I heard a quiet little voice ask "why you crying, mommy?" My baby was behind me. Clean, dry, still sleepy. I asked him where he had been. Here's what he said word for word: "I was sleepy and a man who was made of light came and talked to me. He shined, Mom. He smiled and my heart was so happy! He said you need to go to your Mommy's bedroom. Put your arms around your knees and wait. I'll take care of Mommy". The man carried him into the farthest room, kissed him on the head and told him not to worry. When he heard the crash, he waited until he heard it get quiet then he came to check on me.
There are angels and one saved my boy. The house was destroyed but I didn't care. All that mattered was that he was safe. It turned out that a freak straight line wind had cut a narrow path between our house and the neighbor's. I don't want to think what might have happened if those other trees hadn't been cut down. We found a tiny house nearby and none of our furniture was salvageable. It didn't matter. We were loved and protected. That's enough.