CDC Symptom Diary Card

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Kansas Hurricane

A Kansas Hurricane

I looked back with a smile as I was leaving to see my mom holding the screen door open.  The little white house with the deep gray roof, the simple paneling, a window on either side and the narrow walkway that led from the porch to the sidewalk said “Kansas” with an exclamation point.  I could see a pale blue sky and little puffy clouds overhead.  It should have been a perfect day.

I was headed to school.  Mom was standing in the door, like she always did, wearing her favorite maroon shirt.  Standing tall she was squinting just a tad so that she could see me wave goodbye and shout out “I love you mom”.  She waved back and said "I love you too sweets".  Then of course I had to tell her I’d see her later, as I knew I would.  As I started to turn my head in the direction I was walking, she showed a slight look of concern and forced another little grin.  If I close my eyes I can hear the screen door creak and shut with a little snap. 

The school’s architecture was very strange, no flow or symmetry.  As I entered, it appeared that I was immediately escorted into a large cubicle, one of many throughout.  You never saw one end of the building or had a clue as to your direction or destination. No signs, no numbers, no labels or directory.  There was literally nothing, no computers or phones.  Just walls. The walls were either a shade of silver or blue.  It was stark and cold. 

I sat at the table and this man came in wearing a black suit and tie.  Crisp, as in executive crisp.  He placed a briefcase in the middle of the table, pulled out a document and began reading to me terms and conditions of some sort of insurance policy.  As he droned on through the paperwork a feeling of panic surged through my body.  I felt as if this was some sort of reading of a will, a new destination, a place that had been pre-determined for me and I wanted nothing to do with it.  I wanted to go back home to be with mom and that was that.  I was supposed to be going to class and this event was not in my plans.  I ran out of the room in search of my homeroom, my place of study. 

The halls were narrow and zig zagged from side to side.  I ended up in what was an auditorium.  The room had two tiers.  I found a seat in the first row of the second tier, straight in the center. I had the perfect view. The benches morphed from luxury theatre seating into small seats you would find in an old gymnasium.  Then back again to soft cushy blue seating.  It was as if the room could not decide what it needed to be.  That was the mystery of this building.  When you walked in it sort of becomes what it needs to be.

Today it needed to be a classroom, a place of learning, a place of hope.

I am never one to arrive early.  I am always just a tad late. This time I was early and was so pleased to see that I had a perfect view of the grand chalkboard and had a chance to settle in, taking notice of each new person’s entry into the auditorium. I wanted for mom to be proud of me.   

As I was waiting I noticed that my bag became overly heavy, cluttered with lots of papers, books and personal items.  Another wave of panic set in.  I started to get worried that I had lost my phone.  I loved my cell phone.  It was so unique.  This phone was in the shape of a combination lock, golden and fit perfectly in my palm.  The dial was old fashioned in the sense that if you wanted to make a phone call, you aligned the digits vertically.  

The code was the phone number. Each row was 0-9 and there were 10 rows.  I loved the sound, “click click click”, the lock would open and I was on the phone with mom.  I loved my phone.  It was the only means available to talk to mom outside of the house.

I quickly pulled the bag onto my lap and plunged my right hand straight to the bottom.  I was swimming through its contents over and over hoping to find my phone, the only lifeline to mom. Out of nowhere a huge gust of wind and rain swept over the building. The sound was deafening.  People started running towards the edges to get to safety, stepping on top of one another, screaming and crying.

My bag and all of its contents spilled out onto the stairs. I watched my shiny golden phone roll off the edge of the balcony and drop into oblivion. My only connection to mom was gone. The only line to hear her voice again was lost forever.  I closed my eyes to see her once again, standing there, waiting for me to come home.  I had never felt such pain until that moment in time.

The building rocked again and there was a thunderous bang, a surge of rain and darkness overcame us.  I tried to gather my belongings but I could not stay steady.  I found myself hanging from the second tier by my fingernails.  Someone pulled me up and and we managed to get to safety. The fierce wind and water hit us like tiny bullets.  We could barely see as the rains grew stronger.

What was once inside was now outside.  The roof blew away in one giant flash.  What was a sea of sunflowers was now a sea of water.  For miles and miles nothing but cold water, snowy water, dark black water filled with debris.  I looked and looked and looked for mom’s house.  I could not see her house.  I could not see anything.

I am not sure what happened next as I think I passed out from the trauma. I awoke to find myself in a car with a very nice couple who said that they were here to help me find my mom.  The car had no wheels and was on a black conveyor belt.  The terrain was very steep with lots of hills.  I could hear the clanging of the gears as we escalated up to the top of the first hill, then down we went, sliding to the bottom, only to be brought up to the top again.  This ride went on for a bit and somehow we were routed off to the side into their home.

The house was empty, more like a stage than a home.  It had no furniture, no food  and no belongings.  It looked abandoned, but not.  It was their home.  Nothing was actually attached to any surface.  I remember a kitchen and a bathroom.  The white paint was chipped and the kitchen counters had some sort of metal molding all around it.  I sat for a moment to gather my thoughts and began searching for a phone.  I ran from room to room looking in every corner, every closet, every cupboard and every vent.  I fell to my knees begging them to give me their phone and each time I was told here was no phone.

I accused them of lying.  I begged and pleaded.  I needed to hear my mother’s voice!  I needed to know that she survived!  I needed to know that she was OK and wanted to tell her again how much I loved her.  I needed to talk with her one more time. I needed her to know that I was there and that I was going to help her. 

I recoiled in exhaustion and sobbed.  I would never be able to speak with my mom again.  The waters from the hurricane had flooded the state of Kansas, reaching from the Gulf to Nebraska.  Those of us that were left would start all over.  Her words of “I love you” from that morning would be the last words I would ever hear from my mom.  

That would be the last time I would feel her loving smile.

The end.

Denise Archuleta 
February 16, 2014


I awoke this morning from that nightmare in total upper body pain, including severe pain along my collar bones and neck.  I must have been squeezing 
my body in a ball all night long.  

I miss my mom so much.  I want so desperately to talk with her 
just one more time.

I love you mom!  

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