The Night I Fell In Love With Thunderstorms & Became Aware Of Debora.
I’m not ready for this memorial. It feels too much like saying goodbye, feels too much like I’m standing at her grave. Her body lives, but a dark star inhabits her chest.
She is made up of different thoughts, different sorrows, different dreams. The confluence of the woman she was into the woman she is now hurts to face. It was a slow process, like death can be sometimes.
But there are memories, images, flash-frozen to my bones. I’ll carry them with me into the grave, written into my code, beyond the reach of mere recollection. I’ll remember this day among the multitudes of days. I’ll remember her bathed in silver moonlight.
My mom is a secret creature. She guards herself so deeply I don’t think she even knows how to breach her own walls. She built a fortress around her heart, but she left herself on the outside with all the rest of us. In my youth it lent her an air of mystery. She was the Wise Woman, the Sage, the Enlightened One.
She had a look in her eyes that told me the truth of the Universe lay just on the other side of her lips.
It wasn’t that she thought so highly of herself. Not in the least. My mother is a woman of self-doubt — a trait she passed down to me. It was simply how I viewed her. I wanted there to be magic in the world and she was a piece of that.
I’ve spent a lifetime feeding the story within me, giving voice to tales about a cat ghost protecting its owners from burglars, tales about an immortal girl who fell in love with two men, tales of a group of adventurers exploring a forgotten mine. My mother might have given me self-doubt, but she also gave me The Story.
I remember a night, too many years ago to count. It was the night I fell in love with thunderstorms. It was also the night I first became aware of the woman my mother was when she wasn’t our mother. A woman named Debora.
The rains come in hard and fast in the desert valley of Las Vegas, Nevada. The mountains do not give those storms up easily. They’re greedy for that life-giving water. But every so often, one has the strength to make it over the mountain peaks.
It rolls over the dry, jagged landscape, arcing lightning across the sky, and fills that stretched horizon with the echo of thunder. Out there, between the cleft of Gass Peak and Red Rock Canyon, the sound vibrates through your skin. You feel it in your bones.
My mother opened the door that night, letting soft silver moonlight spill onto the cream-tiled entryway, and sat down on the raised step. It was dark, but there was no terror in it. Sometimes, the night is not a place of fear but one of welcome. It begs you to enter and be enveloped in its stillness.
Face glowing with diffused light, my mother breathed in deep, letting that electrically charged air fill her lungs.
I was drawn to her, like a moth to the flame. I sensed ancient knowledge within her that night. She held the key to something grand and might share it with me, if I’d only sit beside her and stare into the face of that storm. Thunder rattled the glass, it set dogs to barking, and in the distance a car alarm went off. I felt no fear. No jolt of concern.
There was no sense in me that there was anything but wonder out there in those dark clouds full of white fire.
With each bolt of lightning, I felt an aliveness I’d never known. It was an awareness born of budding maturity as well as the calm presence of my mother. I learned to never fear the storm because my mother welcomed it with open arms, upturned face, and a smile on her lips.
“I love the rain,” she said. It was nearly a whisper. Mostly for herself, but in part… for me. There were years ahead of me to watch the unfolding of this gift my mother had given me, but for that moment, that singular second of time, she spoke the sum of her existence into that simple sentence.
I knew then that I wanted to love something with that same kind of passion. I wanted that euphoria on my face, that vigor for the world around me.
My mother was a woman who taught me to dance, even when people were looking. There was a day, one summer, while I was having a pool party with friends, when she danced. We had music playing over a boombox on the porch, and the misters were coating the wild mint in glittering droplets.
The worn and wobbling fan was spinning, filling the air with a loud whoosh, whoosh, whoosh that beat in time to the song.
She started to move her hips, then raised her arms above her head, and just bent and twisted to the music. She looked like a druid, water diamonds in her hair, paying homage to the gods. She was beautiful. And as before, I could not resist the pull. She has gravity, my mother. And I wasn’t the only one pulled into the orbit.
Soon, all the girls were dancing under that thin mist, laughing, smiling, feeling immensely unbound. She twirled around us and encouraged us to sway and spin.
My father taught me the importance of learning to laugh. It was the sound of my mother’s laughter that gave his lesson life. On Saturday mornings it would pull me from sleep. A smile would slip onto my lips unbidden. I couldn’t help but react; it was infectious, her laugh.
It rang through the house unhindered, full-bodied, and left me to wonder just what secrets she was sharing with my father.
I’d drift up from my bed, filled with an ache to be beside her. To be there, curled up on their bed while my father made her laugh that way. Inevitably it drew my sisters and brother from their rest and infused them with an energy they couldn’t understand at that age. We only knew we needed to be a part of it. Her laugh made us want to laugh.
A thousand and one such moments of Debora are burned into me. I keep them, for I am The Talekeeper in my family. I store our histories, house them in the Hall of Memories within my blood. I cannot scent the rain without picturing her face awash in moonlight.
I think on all those snapshots of her and that mysterious spark in her eyes, try to reconcile them to the woman she is now.
My mother still turns her face up to the rain, she still dances when the music comes on, she still twirls around me. The song has grown dark though, filled with more sorrow than joy. The rain hides tears. That laugh has grown softer, laced with a weight she can’t seem to shake.
Her face is lined with age beyond her years, and that ancient knowledge I knew lay within her has grown tangled up in the briars of depression. But, she is still in there. The woman named Debora. So I feed the story she gave me, and never forget the night I fell in love with thunderstorms.
I keep it alive, hoping one day she’ll remember herself.
At any given moment, Nicole LeCody has one foot in this world and one foot inside the worlds of her mind. From an early age, her love of the written word inspired plays, stories, magical lands that she and her siblings could get to from their own backyard, and a multitude of traveling companions whose grand adventures became her own. She loves nature, a great love story, crochet, and losing herself to books. Her dream is that one day she might be able to open up these worlds through her novels so all who have adventure in their hearts might travel with her.