|The storm arrives, right over the "Scream" tower|
We'd been swimming for less than a half-hour when I saw the storm clouds gathering. I looked over and saw Ethan having the time of his life. He'd never experienced a wave pool before.
Uh-oh, I thought. This could get ugly.
Within five minutes the sky was darker than dark and the lightning began flashing. Lifeguards ordered everyone out of the water. I'd never had a moment to let Ethan know there might be the slightest chance we'd have to end our pool time a little early. He seemed completely bewildered, and then outraged. The tears began as we splashed our way out of the water. His screaming started not long before the deluge from the skies.
I couldn't blame him. As we stood there under a small shelter while the clouds cried and he burrowed his head into my towel, wailing, I thought of how much I hated to have my own plans disrupted. The sold-out movie. The favorite restaurant that was closed. The vacation that didn't happen.
And sometimes, the paths I wanted my life to take.
This storm was relentless. Instead of blowing by, it ramped up. The wind blew rain in on us. Thunder rattled everything and we're pretty sure lightning struck something nearby. And the rain; the rain. The rain just would not stop.
For awhile, everyone stood there waiting to get on with their day. Ethan got tired of crying. We trained our eyes to the skies, willing them to stop. Our little shelter spot grew very crowded.
The minutes stretched to a half-hour, maybe more. The realization began to dawn that this wasn't going to stop anytime soon. I watched.
I watched Ethan forget his trauma and do this:
I watched a group of teenagers perform some kind of dance out in the downpour.
I watched people make mad dashes through the raindrops, laughing.
Everywhere, there was laughter. Everyone was laughing at the futility of attempting to stay dry. Some were purposely jumping into the puddles and lakes that had quickly formed, sending more spray everywhere.
As the storm raged on I saw that all of us who had been having a perfectly fun day at the amusement park would now be having a memorable one.
What is it about the storms that make us more alive? How is it that the storms are indeed what makes our lives more rich, more textured, more real?
There's always a lot of discussion about how to help people with autism deal with disruptions in their routine; to cope with disappointment and change. I think more than anything it's because that's what the fabric of life is.
If we can drink in the raindrops when we wanted to be swimming in the pool, then we are truly living.