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cecilia bedelia and the wake-up call

June 22, 2010

There’s nothing like being woken up at one o’clock in the morning by tornado sirens.  Only I didn’t wake up to sirens.  I woke up to my roommate coming into my room and telling me the sirens were going off.  The delirium of being woken from a sound sleep lasted but a moment.  My eyes flew open, I sat up in bed and heard the warning signal.

I panicked – my tornado emergency bag wasn’t packed! Well, not entirely packed…  I didn’t know we were under a watch when I went to bed or it would have been ready.  Thankfully, I hadn’t finished unpacking the bag of necessities from Friday’s watch; I only had to add a few things.  I grabbed my laptop, as well as my Bible and phone and shoved them alongside the rest of the contents: my external hard drive, a rosary, two of my favorite photos, my little “Uncle Jeff” teddy bear, extra contacts, a bag of dried mango and a few other things.  I ran downstairs, stopping only to use the bathroom and grab my makeup bag, toothbrush and toothpaste.  I didn’t have time to grab an extra change of clothes, which I usually throw in just in case, but I didn’t want to stay in my third floor bedroom any longer than necessary.

Emily was already in the basement when I got down there.  “So did you hear the sirens?” I asked.

She laughed. “No.  My mom called, and I heard my phone.  I didn’t think the siren was very loud.”

Between the rain, wind and constant thunder, I wasn’t surprised that the warning sounded weak.  “I did hear it in my sleep,” I told Emily, “but I was dreaming that I was hanging out at the World Cup – I was reading the latest World Cup news online before I went to sleep – and in my dream I thought the siren was those blasted horns you hear throughout the games!  It seemed very real.”

Rosario called to make sure I heard the siren.  I confirmed I was in the basement and took full responsibility for the weather status.  “I knew this would happen someday.  The one time I didn’t have my emergency bag ready to go…”

Emily and I sat in the dank basement for about ten minutes letting our nerves get the better of us.  We hugged our pillows, jumped at every thunder clap, winced at every lightning flash and listened to our neighbors above us wondering whether or not they would join us.  I was so upset over the threat of tornados I felt sick.

Finally, one of us suggested praying a rosary.  We checked the current weather situation on the laptop (the warning was still in effect for another twenty minutes or so) before turning our focus to prayer.  The repetitious prayers of the rosary soothed our paranoid selves as much as they could be soothed in the midst of such turmoil.

The warning was eventually lifted and we returned to our rooms, but we had already lost an hour of sleep.  Of course the adrenaline rush kept me awake for another hour and a half.

This was the second time in my life I was sent to the basement for a tornado warning, and I really hope I never have to do that again!  If there’s one thing I learned from this adventure it’s that I need a weather radio because I am one heavy sleeper.  Besides, I might feel better about waking up to a weather alert than the annoying sound of the horns during a World Cup game!

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