When I look to the sky, something tells me you’re here with me, and you make everything alright.” — Train
To check the weather the week before your wedding seems standard for any bride.
At least for the brides I’ve known, and especially for the ones who hold their weddings outside. So my sister’s foray onto Weather.com and Accuweather seven days before her big day struck me as perfectly normal. Luckily, the forecast at that point called for sunshine.
A couple days later, the forecast turned gloomy — 60 percent chance of storms (for 3-4 hours of the day, according to the Accuweather detail). My sister’s mood turned gloomy as well. She and her fiance had made no special preparations for rain — no tents over the 225 chairs or canopy over the altar. My mom told her not to worry. My middle sister said “hey, they said it was supposed to rain for my wedding and remember I was fine? Just a few sprinkles?” All the while, I remained mostly silent.
Silent, but confident.
For as long as I can remember, going back to high school, I’ve found meaning in weather– ALL weather. Sunny days, cloudy days, brightly-lit skies, and of course… rain.
The rain at UNC-Chapel Hill came at a needed time. I don’t want to give away the story of my book’s title, but let’s just say if the drought wouldn’t have ended when it did, I’d be talking about a much different experience.
Four years later, on a day when only thunderstorms were predicted, I graduated under a clear sky, one that allowed my 30 family members who had made the trip to attend an outdoor ceremony. More than one of the speakers remarked that morning how blue the sky was. A Carolina blue that spoke to me the same way that the rain had years earlier.
When the forecast called for rain for my entire beach trip two years ago, I assumed the trip to be a bust — predictions that proved right on. Since my dad was off work and somewhat bored all week, I passed much of the time talking on the phone with him.
I now appreciate that the weather kept me indoors those four days.
A year ago — the summer just after his death– I worried rain during my annual trip would make me miss him that much more, especially when the forecast looked identical to the previous year. Instead, the sky stayed as clear as could be for the entire four days of my trip. The sunrises proved some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, leaving me in awe at how perfect the trip had turned out. Those sunrises, along with a very special song played on my last night, taught me an important lesson about the weather… and about life.
I used to be that same incessant forecast checker my sister was leading up to her wedding. When I went on vacation, when I had a big event coming up, when I made weekend arrangements, I wanted to be 100% prepared. This went along with my personality as an obsessive PLANNER, wanting to map out every aspect of my life and know where I was going for the next 2 years, five years, ten, etc…
This year, 2014, I’ve tried to stop planning so much, putting those lyrics, “let it be,” into practice. Starting with my trip to Europe at the end of 2013, I’ve taken each event as it comes, trusted things will work out, and worried much less about what’s next on the horizon. I’ve jumped at each opportunity presented, from moving across the country for a year-long contract, to exploring brand new hiking trails or nearby cities on a random weekend day, all the while without planning or worrying about what’s coming the next day, week, or month after (for the record, I have no idea where I’m going at the end of this year). In terms of the actual weather, it’s sure made a more relaxed attitude easier being in a place where rain is as rare as a rainbow and you can do pretty much anything you want any time; yet that fact has added even more to my perspective and helped me see how fruitless it is to constantly be at the mercy of a “forecast” that isn’t even accurate most of the time.
I believe the weather is a product of forces greater than me, of a higher power. This past 18 months, I believe that force and power in my life has been my late father. That’s the reason I wasn’t worried about my sister’s wedding day, that’s the reason the weather was hardly a consideration for me when my stepmom and I hiked the grand canyon (we happened to have 75 degree temps during a time when it is usually a less bearable 95). The list goes on. Some of you may think I’m crazy for saying that, some of you may be nodding your head, thinking of similar experiences with lost loved ones, but regardless, I think everyone can take away the lesson.
Whether or not you agree with me that my dad (and my now brother-in-law’s late mother) had something to do with the absolutely perfect, dry, clear, warm (but not too warm) weather on my sister’s wedding day, no one can argue that everyone had a lot more fun when we stopped looking at the forecast, when we decided that we’d live in the moment and embrace whatever came. We had no choice but to trust in what we were given — whatever that might be.
Some people feel the rain, others just get wet.” –Bob Marley
It’s ironic that I finished this blog post last night, on the same date that ten years earlier, I wrote the 8-page document that became my book. It’s even more ironic that in that now decade-old document, I stated that given the predicted sunny weather the following day, I was going to go for a nice, long run on my favorite path to commemorate those pages as an important step in moving forward.
The sun didn’t match the forecast ten years ago. Instead, as I ran my beloved lake loop, only clouds greeted me. And then, midway through that run…
Well, you know the book’s title. And now you know the raindrops that day brought me more meaning than any ray of sunshine ever has.
So appreciate the sunshine, listen to the rain, and above all else, trust the weather and its timing — no need to worry about the forecast.