What’s Left Behind

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In the middle of the night, I heard the low rumble grow into a deafening blast that shook the whole house.  Seconds later, the wind whipped into the windows, demanding to gain entrance.  A wall of rain edged closer, like a 1000-man infantry marching into town. As the storm blew through, I pulled the covers tighter.  I enjoyed thunderstorms, but this one was a powerful one; and I felt every flash, every roar, every gust, every drop. Then, almost as quickly as that storm blew in, all grew quiet as the nighttime darkness gave way to the morning light.

Hesitantly, I rolled out of bed and stumbled in the dim morning light, walking downstairs to the front window.  The flowers, beaten by the pelting raindrops, sulked as they leaned over the edges of the pots on the porch.  Small branches and leaves littered the front yard.  Water puddled in the driveway.  The decorative flag twisted around the lamppost.  The sun glimpsed from behind the retreating clouds, but the collateral damage left over from the storm was evident.

I walked into the kitchen and my nose met with the sweet smell of cinnamon and chocolate.  The night before, I baked cinnamon bread and a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Although it had been hours since the sticky batter transformed into gooey goodness, the scent of butter and sugar and love still lingered in the air.

The thunder and the cinnamon bread.  The wind and the chocolate chips.

Both but memories … still seen and still felt.

Both left an imprint.

One left damage.  One left sweet memories.

Throughout the day, that thought weighed heavily on my mind.

We had the power to be the storm, or the chocolate chip cookies. 

We had the power to leave behind damage, or a lingering scent of love and memories. 

We had the power to leave an imprint of destruction, or peace. 

I watched a man help an elderly woman load her groceries into the car.

Chocolate chip cookies. 

I watched a woman scold the young cashier for being too slow.

The storm. 

I received a card with a sweet note from a dear old friend.

Chocolate chip cookies.

I was cut off by an aggressive driver on the highway.

The storm. 

I witnessed and experienced the real life collateral damage of the storm and the pleasant scent of chocolate chip cookies, over and over again that day.  Then, I thought about the imprint I made, what I left behind …

Was I the chocolate chip cookies, or was I the storm?

Did I leave behind damage, or peace?

My daughter was playing around this morning getting ready for school.  I was impatient.

I was the storm.  

My friend called, upset about a family matter. I listened and encouraged her.

I was the chocolate chip cookies. 

My husband forgot to do that thing I asked him to do. I made a comment.

I was the storm. 

My son struggled with a school assignment. I explained it and helped him complete it.

I was the chocolate chip cookies. 

Whatever we did, wherever we went, we left an imprint.  We crossed each other’s paths and we left something behind. We broke off tree branches and left deep puddles. We filled hearts and souls with love and peace.

When I came home at the end of the day, I noticed that the flowers perked up, no longer drooping over the sides of the pots. The puddles in the driveway were gone. I walked through the yard and picked up the branches, and untwisted the flag hanging on the lamppost.

There.

The damage had been done, but with a little time and a little effort, it was good as new. When I walked into the kitchen, I could no longer smell the cinnamon and chocolate. That delicious aroma no longer tickled my nose, but the memories of the melted chocolate chips and the cinnamon sugar still lingered inside my heart.

It made me think about how storms rolled into our lives.  We were left vulnerable.  We were left broken.  We suffered damage; and then, the storms passed.  With a little time, most of the damage could be repaired.  We fixed what was broken and dealt with the rest.

In this life, the sun shined too.  We enjoyed the cinnamon bread, the chocolate chip cookies, and the lingering feelings of love and hope and peace. Although we couldn’t count on those sweet times to last forever, we could store those memories in the depths of our hearts.  We could feel that love deep in our soul, long after the sun set on those delicious memories.

Yes, we had the power to be the storm.

Yes, we had the power to be the chocolate chip cookies.

But we also had the power to overcome, and we had the power to sustain.

We had the power, and we had a choice.

Whether we were the storm or the chocolate chip cookies, …

in the end, we determined what was left behind.

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Jennifer Lilley Collins

I'm a Mom, wife, daughter, and friend navigating life with metastatic breast cancer while finding joy in the everyday and spreading hope, love, and inspiration along the way.

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