The Cyclone Rose With a Wave of My Hand

“When I was young there was nothing to know
And the wind followed me wherever I’d go
Rain came down where I made my stand
And the cyclone rose with a wave of my hand”

Rain came down where I made my stand. And the cyclone rose with a wave of my hand. And the cyclone rose with a wave of my hand.

In early March, I did feel like the cyclone rose with the wave of my hand.

Scarlet said it just the other day, when we were getting celebratory ice cream and cookies from Insomnia Cookies. She said, “It changed, overnight.” We were touring the middle school one Tuesday, and I was smiling at a few friends – bursting to tell them about my pregnancy, which wasn’t yet public. Scarlet took her close friend into the corner to tell her, and they were adorably beaming. By Wednesday, I vaguely heard the news about the virus spreading, but I still didn’t think it would or could touch us. Nothing ever reached us, anyway, not in Massachusetts and not in my semi-charmed kinda life. By Thursday, we saw the after school play that Scarlet’s class had worked on for months, and the seats were set up six feet apart. By Friday, just the next day, the kids got off that school bus after a half day, and they never got back on again. They will, I think.

They have to, right? Some things may never come back, like salad bars. School buses never left.

kids waiting for school bus and smiling

God, I miss it. All of it.

They have done well. And they do well, considering. It’s in different ways. They’re growing up during this, and their strengths becomes weaknesses become strengths, and sometimes they bounce little quirks and triggers from one to the other, and back again. Scarlet holds so much inside, but it’s not like she’s bursting from the pressure, like me. It’s more like she takes it in, holds it in for a certain amount of time, and then breathes it out like cleansing steam. I can be like boiling point, smoke from the ears, primal war cry, or worse. Stunningly debilitating anxiety.

Des is different. He’s always been so interesting, and has always thrived on busy hands and a busy mind; structure and routine and teachers and friends and grandparents. I’ve noticed the darn pandemic wearing at him lately. Or maybe it’s not lately, but I’m waking up from different fog bubbles of pregnancy discomfort, and all of the trauma and heartbreak and pain of having a new baby, and that’s even when things are going well. Des, though, falls into these pockets of anxiety and even panic from normal and only slightly annoying discomforts. For real, I’m talking postnasal drip or digestive troubles. I get it, though. I get annoyed at him and yet I relate so well, even without the darkened frame of being a child going through the tunnel of this pandemic.

Rain came down where I made my stand. And the cyclone rose with a wave of my hand. And the cyclone rose with a wave of my hand.

“When I was young there was love for free
Glad to be given and received by me
Rain came down where I made my stand
And the cyclone rose with a wave of my hand
With a wave of my hand”

They still welcome the magic. These kids, who have only ever known the magic; the open doors and calm seas and skies. My kids have an abundance of love and health, though, and I think that’s one of their gifts. It doesn’t mean everything is perfect, but I believe the foundation is strong, even if I feel like I’m crumbling. They’re built of all sorts of solid materials. They have a baby brother, and regular Florida trips. They have tons of exuberant extended family members, and dream trips to see sloths and whale sharks. It’s dreamy. Except it’s real, so you have bedhead and postnasal drip; even rainbow sprinkles that go down the wrong pipe. It’s scary, sometimes.

It makes you cough, and you get digestive troubles too. Life, it happens. It aches, and amazes.

Georgia Aquarium whale sharks

“I believe I can still make the cyclone rise
Just can’t see it so well with my fading eyes”

I’m ready for this to end. We all are. At this point it’s embedded in their narratives and their psyches; and we don’t know how that will look a year from now, or 20 years from now. My earliest memories contain my father, but he was taken suddenly from me when I was at the tail end of being three-years-old. That embedded itself into my narrative and my psyche, but I didn’t stop thinking I was magic. Oh no, maybe I still believed, and still believe, despite it. Light and sloths and whale sharks and rainbow sprinkles have a way of getting in. I wonder if my kids feel like I once felt about timing and luck and kindness and light and love. And I wonder if, like me, it won’t necessarily go away. It ages; wears and tears. It changes, but it’s there. After all this time?


Rain came down where I made my stand. And the cyclone rose with a wave of my hand. And the cyclone rose with a wave of my hand.

“Most of our years have flown away with nothing much decided
Except the board we’re playing on, how it’s to be divided
Will more years yet die alone? The question’s many sided
Got no answers of my own and none have been provided”

Do they believe it? Will they believe it, always? We have such different paths and journeys, and much different obstacles and outcomes, but we’re carved from the same hearts; drawn to the same light. I think often about what we go through, and how much most of us can still believe in ourselves and others. I think often that if you’re hardwired for joy and delight, and ambition, there’s nothing that will stop you from finding it. And spreading it. This was a gift given to me.

And gosh, may I be helping to give it to them.

Rain came down where I made my stand. And the cyclone rose with a wave of my hand. And the cyclone rose with a wave of my hand.

“I believe I can still make the cyclone rise
And the cyclone rose, wave of my hand
Rain came down where I made my stand”

“Cyclone” was song #4 on our birthing playlist.

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  1. I miss it all, too. I cannot believe that we are actually coming up on a year. It’s unreal. And listening to Dr. Fauci this morning, It sounds like it could be almost two!:(. Hang in there!

    1. I’m really glad that we will be hearing from him more now. And yeah, I feel like the experts always predicted it would be awhile. I really want the vaccine but I don’t think I’ll be able to get it for months. The good news is that my parents are getting dose 1 TODAY! And my brothers next week. And my older sister is already scheduled for dose 2.

  2. I have hit my breaking point. I want the vaccine. I’m an essential worker. I have worked with the public, many of whom can’t even wear a face mask correctly, for nearly a year. I want some sort of control and I can’t even get a vaccine. I just feel devastated. I feel like my government has failed me. I feel broken.

    1. I am so sorry. The federal government needs to be stronger – the states are so disorganized. My parents are getting dose 1 today, and my two brothers have high risk factors and are getting theirs next week. My older sister works in healthcare and got her dose 1. They’re all in NJ where things seem to be smoother than here.

  3. After this week, I am not going to lie I have a bit more hope than I have for obvious reasons. I am not naive though in thinking this will get better overnight, but still I think after all is said and done with the new current administration wie are in much better hands and faith is something I do have restored at alt east right now. Hugs <3

  4. This song is beautiful and speaks to personal power. I love that it was on your birth playlist! Yes, I agree, it is getting really hard now to remain stoic about the situation. We’re in the depths of it now. When it first hit, I think we all believed it would be over in six months…how wrong they/we were. We’re going to get there! Love the pictures of Scarlet playing guitar. So sweet. It seems like another life pre and post pandemic. Two different worlds.

  5. Hey Bruce! You Still Got It and your
    music will make it rain as you wow your audience at The Count Basie Theater in Red Bank on Sunday June 13. Isn’t that Des’s birthday? Look at the love and joy on Scarlet’s face as she serenades her baby brother. Her little guitar with the ’70″s theme of.brightly colored artwork brought back some very pleasant memories of my ukulele that I carried with me like Linus carried his blanket. I would sing all the songs l memorized for family, friends and neighbors. Bruce
    and The Grateful Dead’s gifted lyricist Robert C. Hunter composed “Cyclone” while remaining miles apart.

  6. Lovely post. This has been a year. So much hurt, so much sadness, and actually, a lot of good. I look for that good mixed in with the other and it keeps me going. Yesterday was very hard for my family. Two more personal losses, but there was still so much good that I saw. Good people. Good actions. Good.

    I am hoping that we don’t really just end, but make this a new beginning. Never forgetting.

    Lots of love to you and your family 🙂

  7. I’m definitely ready for this to end, and I have found myself thinking about how life will be different as a result of this pandemic. You mentioned salad bars, and I agree. I think there will be other things as well, I just don’t know what. I know people around me are realizing maybe they don’t have to get up in the dark and ride trains into NYC anymore, and that is pretty nice!

  8. Yes it has been quite the year and certainly one I will never forget. I do see a better future though. Once the vaccine is widely available and maybe a new sense of appreciation of things. I know it will be for me and I truly look forward to when we can gather again.

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