"Mommy?" my daughter asked in that soft voice of hers, tugging on the edge of my skirt as we stood in line at the grocery store. And boy was this line long.
"Not now, sweetie. Mommy's on the phone," I said with a small smile directed down at her, pointing to the cell phone I was holding between my chin and my shoulder. She pouted and sighed, turning her baby blue eyes to the rows of candies. I shook my head and went back to Derek.
"So, are you feeling better today, honey?" I asked into the speaker of my old cell phone. My new one broke a few weeks ago, but with my fiancé, Derek, in the hospital; we just didn't have the money to repair it. In fact, this was my first grocery store trip in a week.
"No, not really," he mumbled. I had to turn up the volume so I could hear him clearly over the rain that pounded the tin roof of the cheap version of Wal-Mart we could afford. Where was the volume button…?
"I can't feel anything of my right leg. I can't move it, or anything. It's gone numb, Selena."
"Hold on Derek, just one second," I said as I pushed the cart forward a little, fumbling with my phone. "Alright, I had to turn up the volume, sweet heart. Sorry. Now what were you saying?"
A static sigh came from the other end.
"I…" I wasn't able to hear what he said because my phone burst into obnoxious beeping sounds.
"What the…?" I turned my phone around and stared at the dim screen. LOW BATTERY, it said. Now was not the time for this…
A tap on my shoulder sent my head whipping around to stare at the person responsible. He was a crinkled old man who smelled of spring gardens and maple syrup. His toothless mouth opened and closed as he pointed a shaky hand towards the door, where a little blonde head was bobbing its way towards the parking lot.
"A-Alice!" I cried out to my girl, dropping my phone and running after her, completely forgetting my cart in my panic. "ALICE!"
When I turned the corner I skidded to a stop. Tons of women were standing in front of the doors that didn't slide, but always stood open, rain or shine, gawking at something beyond. I stepped cautiously through the crowd until I got to the front, and found myself gawking as well.
Children were everywhere. Squatting in the mud, rolling in the damp grass, or just standing with their faces turned towards the gray sky. But not my Alice, who had just come out. She danced in the rain. Danced with another little girl, who laughed and giggled along with her. They were getting soaked, but they were having fun. How could that be?
I almost stomped out there to grab her by the arm and drag her back inside, where I would get back to Derek and my groceries. But a woman from the crowd beat me to it, walking slowly, almost with uncertainty, towards her daughter. The little black haired girl grinned up at her mother, rain washing down her dark cheeks, her eyes squinted, but sparkling. She grabbed her momma's hand and made her dance. Before I knew what was happening, they were both laughing and dancing and splashing.
I looked around at the faces of the other moms, and they were all smiling softly, their eyes all containing a childish sparkle identical to their children's.
I found myself grinning widely and dropped my purse on the ground, sprinting out to my daughter. I grabbed both her and the other girl into my arms and spun them around. We all laughed and danced and had the best of times. But the best part of it all was that I got completely soaked. I'd never laughed so much since Derek was in the hospital. There was really nothing much to laugh about.
But, as I discovered today, I was so wrong. There is so much to laugh about; it's funny how I didn't realize that earlier.
So, once upon a storm, I realized that maybe life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain.