One Thousand Friends in a Tornado

I’m not sure what happened Saturday night, but I think its becoming more and more clear to me. I sat outside today, barely a knitting did I do. But enjoyed the sky, no sound save the surf and seagulls.

Let’s go back a bit, when I was in the 6th grade. My father and I were home alone, early evening. To make this blog shorter than I intended, I’ll cut to the quick. A rumbling noise was heard. Power went out. My father picked me up, threw me and he into the closest closet at hand as a tornado tore down on us. Thirty seconds later, all went quiet and my father opened the door to find that our entire home, and all of our things were gone. The only thing left of the structure was the closet we lived in and a bathroom where the back of the house used to be. For a month we lived in a rented home while our new house was being built on our land. And not long after moving in, my father received orders to report to Berlin, Germany where we lived until a year after I graduated high school.

Whenever I had a dream of tornados I always know that displacement is near. I’ll have one, a treacherous one where the sky is black and green and funnels are coming after me, and not long after, I’m told its time for me to leave. I didn’t used to have them so often, but over the past year I’ve had them often. I associate tornadoes with displacement, you see.

On Thursday night I had another tornado dream. When I woke I reminded myself that it was nothing more than a dream, nothing more than a simple, silly dream. So, I did the worst thing you can think of. I put it aside. I put one of the most traumatic of feelings off to the side and dismissed it and went back to my knitting. Friday was a mindless day, a day where there was nothing coming from me but apathy and denial. Saturday started off as normal as can be. Were you aware that I wake and put on my boots? I crawl out of bed in my underwear and put on my boots. I thought about it for a moment: “You want to be ready to have to go at any moment.” Homeless will do that to you. You’re constantly camping, and when you camp, you leave your tent with your boots on. Much like how it was in the woods.

But, I’m not homeless anymore….

So I’ll go to the bathroom first thing in the morning, wearing my boots. Make coffee, wearing nothing more than my underwear and boots. Scratch Mario, toss some food in her bowl and then head on with the rest of my day. My boots come off when I shower and when I sleep. They’re always close by.

Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day. I’m a Savannahian. We take that awfully seriously. So my mind started to swoom and swarm towards my life prior to this whole mess. My coveted apartment, my lifestyle. All so adored and wished for by many in Savannah. Putting my needles down I decided to take a nap and had another tornado dream. When I woke, I thought about the festivities, the laughter, the joy. Thought about Peni….and it went downhill from there.

Something happened to me Saturday night that I can only attribute to an emotional break down. I wasn’t suicidal, I want you all to be aware of that. I was hopeless. Which is a much longer version of suicide. I was prepared to walk out that front door and leave everything behind. Including Mario. I was prepared to have her be rescued and felt she’d have a better life than I have given her. I wasn’t in my own head. I was breaking down, and talking to a very special friend of mine and even got so violently ill I felt the best thing I could do was just say, “here are my things. I have to go. I don’t know what happens….and I don’t care.”

I started crying, laid on the bed, and fell asleep. When I woke Sunday, I was terrified at what my mind had pursued the night prior.

I often feel that I have 4 friends. George. Kara. Wes. And Peni. One was gone, and the other three are so far away. And I often eluded to the idea in my own head that being so far from them has made me lonely. One in heaven. Three in different states.

Then I started reading comments to my blog and emails sent to my account and all I could see was encouragement.

I was reminded that I had that Peni was gone. I haven’t admitted to that in my heart. I haven’t admitted to myself that the ones you love die.

I was reminded that I have an incredible talent.

I was reminded that I can make this business work. My life is my work and vice versa.

I was reminded that I can make this life work. My work is my life and vice versa.

I was reminded, above all, that I was loved.

And I was told in no uncertain terms, before I could be reminded of it, that I had more than 4 freinds. I had a THOUSAND friends, all coming to voice their concern, their love, and most importantly their prayers. They….what am I saying….YOU all came to show me that you care. That I’m not some fleeting blog to be read in the privacy of cyberspace. That I am, in your eyes, a real, genuine human being with fears and hopes. And if you read this blog, then you want to know about both….like any friend would.

So, I can’t thank you enough. You held my hand through the screen, through the ether of the universe and let me know that what has troubled me finally erupted, exploded and left itself a mark….yet, it need not be fatal. It is a wound deep, yes, but the more I write about my life, the more I learn of all the lovely disastrous things I had always chose to throw under the rug.

I love you all for that. None of who read this blog are ever called strangers, or followers (I hate that), nor even customers, or supporters. You’re all my friends.


…I apologize if I upset many of you.

And I’m sorry if this particular post needs editing. πŸ™‚ I’m writing raw tonight.




  1. Thanks for writing all of this today. You are a real human being with real feelings. That’s why I come to your blog, because of your honesty and openness. It’s not just another blog to promote fifteen million products or superficial things that don’t really matter to you. It’s your life, your work, your heart.

    I lost my aunt two months ago and it’s been really hard on me emotionally. It’s been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to deal with. I still don’t know if it’s truly hit me. I’m struggling with it all the time and it’s derailed my life some. I know how hard it is to lose someone close to you. Just know that you aren’t alone.


  2. Gregory, sometimes we have to come through the darkness to appreciate the light! It is good to get all of this out and not to keep it hidden, to free your spirit so you can soar! Once again, you have inspired me. I am just so happy to hear from you and know that you are ok.
    Lots of hugs for you and Mario

  3. Hi Gregory,
    Your writing is beautiful, thank you for your lovingly words…the best words come straight from the heart, unedited. We are all here for you….you are never alone even if we’re not physically there. I’ve never had a close person die, so I do not know what death & grieving is like. I have no next-of-kin other than my siblings, so I never knew my grandparents, uncles, aunts & cousins…..death to me is a frightening thought.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your tornado dreams. I’ve been having quite a few of them these past 2 years for no apparent reason–it’s always the same dream/nightmare….they are black funnels all over the place & it is destroying the lands (I don’t know where). When the tornado hit Dexter, Michigan the other day, I freaked out because my father-in-law lives just down the street from the disaster site. I also have a sister & sister-in-law in Ann Arbor which is next door to Dexter. So…yes, those dreams can be scary, but none as near as what you’ve experienced in real life.

    Just remember, if you’re ever in my neck of the woods for ANY reason, do stop by if you need help. Take care & I look forward to hearing from you. Think happy thoughts! πŸ™‚

  4. So glad you made it through the dark. I was so moved by all your loyal friends and their messages to you. You and they have inspired me very much.

  5. Thank you so much for posting everything that was going on in you. Yes, Gregory, you do have many, many, many friends around you. If not physically, at least, always in spirit!! We all love you!!!

    By the way, I don’t just happen upon your blog, it is delivered to the inbox of my email client every time you post, so I don’t miss a single thing that’s going on in the life of one of my dear friends!!

  6. Thank you so much for writing this. I love the raw honesty that you put into all of your writing. I will continue praying for you and sending you love through the universe!

  7. Gregory, that’s beautiful writing. Stream of consciousness, straight from the heart — and it’s clear that you’re learning how to let those deep, hidden, tight, carefully covered-up places break open and feel the sun. We were painfully worried about you when you disappeared after that scary post, so thank you for taking pity on us and lightening the load we were carrying for you in our hearts. I’m thankful to Rachael for introducing me to your blog, and so happy to be able to make you a part of my life. You remind me tremendously of my stepson, which is an automatic “in” with me … but I’m very quickly growing to love you for yourself. You’re “good people,” Gregory, never forget it. And life is good — I’m glad you’re in it.

  8. You are awesomely courageous! To face whatever has brought the darkness around again, to write it out here… are so loved and so supported. And truly it is more than just words. Love and support from heart to heart are real, alive, warm. One thing that helps me when once again I feel the dark begin to cover me when it felt last time like I had conquered it. Someone gave me the image of the spiral; each time we come around to what hurts, we meet it at a higher level. No failure….just part of the spiral of life. You’ve made it to another level of your spiral, and I rejoice with you.

  9. I can see you now…writing in the raw…in your underwear and boots…knitting needles either tucked like a pencil behind your ear or the band of said undies…and a warm glow surrounding you from your friends (web or closer) and those warmed by your bears and bunnies returning the same to you,

    Beyond a breakdown is usually a breakthrough. Time to set another place at your table (you might feel a bit lonely but you are never really alone). There’s you, Mario, bear, and bunny….dream your next creature – another animal spirit guide – and get busy with those needles and bring a new friend to life!.

    1. Thank you for that. But, one thing had to make me chuckle. I received an email from someone telling me something similar. They said, “I can imagine you in your underwear (whities?), your boots (work?) and your ballcap (faded?), knitting your bears…..God, that’s hot.” I could only laugh. πŸ™‚

  10. I’m so glad you posted this, Gregory – we were all so worried about you. I know how it feels to be hopeless – it’s not something you can control. You just have to ride it and reach out to friends. That’s hard when you’re feeling that way. But you did it and you got a response and it helped you through.

    Don’t forget – you’re amazing. You’re more courageous than most and your honesty touches so many people. You will never truly be alone.


  11. Thank you for letting us know what was going on. I was worried and concerned like everybody else. To me, there is value in all this for all of us. It draws us closer as human beings and brings out the best in our hearts.

    I live in an area where there are rarely tornadoes. We had one in April 1995 and another in July 1996 and that shocked everyone around here. For awhile we did tornado safety drills at school, but that faded out. Yet on the news, especially lately, there are so many reports, and photos, and videos. You see people standing there in shock. But to hear the inner, lasting effects of that trauma from someone years later, that’s not something that makes the news.

    I too, went through a period where I dreamed about tornadoes often. They were always very scary dreams. I don’t recall that I associated them with anything, but from your description, I’m recognizing that there was a lot of upheaval and change in my life then. There have still been “storms” in my life, but I don’t have tornado dreams anymore. I think I have found an inner “storm shelter”. I have also found the strength and courage to shout “NO” at the tornadoes, and make them change direction and move away from me.

    Your blog is like therapy for all of us. Your honesty is bringing out the same in us. You are voicing things that many of us have felt or experienced, and maybe have not been able to talk about or even name. It’s so rare in this world to find this kind of openness and vulnerability. I’m also impressed with the ability of all your friends here to express themselves. Maybe they were like that before, or maybe you are bringing it out in all of us.

    Big hugs to you and Mario. As a cat lover with three cats of my own, all of whom were rescue cats, I was worried for her too.

  12. So glad to hear that you are doing better.

    Warmest hugs to you and when you feel alone, remember that you are never alone.

  13. I’m really glad that you are feeling better, I was worried about you even though we’ve never met. You have thousands of hands giving you support & love, please, please, don’t forget that. We are all one and we are all unique. Don’t lose sight of that πŸ™‚

  14. If what you write is all true; you really need some serious help. A psychiatrist and drug therapy. I hate to say this, but you sound truly unstable.

  15. I was out and about for a week and you let yourself get into this mess!!! No way, MAN!!!!

    Over the past few months life has also played some tricks on me but I stood strong and didn’t cave in and I had a positive outcome, how? I BREATHE!!! Breathing is so important… with your breath you could breathe that bloody tornado away because you are stronger!!!

  16. Good to read you are doing OK. We all have our dark times, but without the dark times we wouldn’t appreciate the better times. It’s hard to get out of that rut though to make your way back into the light.

    Appreciate your honesty and know it comes from the heart, you say it how it is…forget the editing, you are with “friends” who care. You have so much talent, it would be a shame to waste it…

  17. This was a beautiful post! You’re such an amazing writer. You’ve been in my thoughts and prayers for some time, and you’ll continue to be. You are so real to me! I have your book on my Kindle and it’s great so far! Continue doing what you do. We all love you!

  18. I watched a video the other day of a woman who had a deep love of storms and always wanted to see a tornado. Her husband didn’t really care for storms but when, less than a mile away, they saw a tornado the both grabbed their cameras and started filming it coming toward them. When they knew it was too close they took cover under a blanket against a back wall, on the floor. They wrapped their arms tightly around one another. The tornado hit and he yelled “I love you”, she yelled “I love you too”. There was a deafening crack and when she awoke her house was flattened, her husband gone. Close by were people who heard her whimpering and pulled her from the debris. Her husband was only feet from her but no longer with them. Sh sat on a log in the center of what use to be their home and said “I’m going to rebuild my home, right here. It’s where we wanted to be and where we will stay.”

    Though you and she had real tornadoes, there are emotional ones we all must face. Through her heartache he believed that even though her husband was no longer with her, his spirit would live on in the house she rebuilt, with her. My mom died nearly 13 years ago. She was my best friend. It took a long time to say she wasn’t coming back but she’s not lost. She’s here with me. Every time I think of some horrible punny joke out of the blue or lean forward to touch a flower from a tree after a rain that promptly poured on my face… immediately my thoughts turn to her and I know a bit of her does this to remind me I’m not alone and I need to relax and laugh at myself.

    You can have 100 people tell you can make it but until you realize for yourself, it’s a long way to enlightenment (or “row to hoe” as mom would say). I tell my kids every day, “the day is what YOU make of it”. It might be raining. Stand out there and spin your umbrella, kick the puddles or just watch from the window. People will be hateful. Smile knowing you have people love you enough that you’re not that guy. Walk on and walk proud. I’m a strong believer that we are never alone, we just choose not to always see who’s with us. πŸ˜‰

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