When we were interring Daddy in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery (x marks the spot, a shovel, and an urn), rain fell. We held umbrellas, but we were moving, digging and tossing dirt. The August rain dripped slow and steady—not warm, not cool, just rain—and even as it was happening, I knew I’d never act afraid of the rain again. No running to get out of a sudden shower. No hunched shoulders. No grimacing face. Just rain.
The dog and I exit for our 1:00 walk, and rain patters the cobblestones. The clouds have been bruised all morning, but if I’d known the rain had finally arrived, I would’ve worn my yellow slicker—I love every opportunity to wear my yellow slicker. Without the slicker, I stand in the white tee I stole from Tom, the rain wetting the cotton and revealing my turquoise bra beneath. We wander across the parking lot, and petrichor rises from the hot cement. This—walking in the rain without exhibiting any of the social conventions that silently say I know I’m caught in the rain, nothing I can do about it—is the start of insanity. Or sanity, maybe.
When I was a child, rain fell in sheets from heaven, marching down Arlington Street while I stood with arms outstretched, willing it to come to me. Exhilarated at its arrival, I scooted beneath the giant oak whose sturdy arms umbrellaed me as rain splattered the ground. How long does it take to get back to the joy of rain? Not looking through the rain to the sunshine returning on the other side, but the dimples in the puddle, the fish at the surface of the pond opening its mouth, the rivulets sluicing through the waving green grass. Rain for the joy of rain. Does anyone ever pray, dear God, send me what I love even if no one else in the world would ever want it?