Dispatches from a Memphis Snow Bunker

This piece originally appeared in the Memphis, TN Commerical Appeal and online here: Dispatches from a Memphis Snow Bunker

Friday: We knew it was going to happen. We just didn’t know when.

My family and I had been watching the weather for days, but we still couldn’t nail down exactly when the snow would come. 3 a.m.? 6 a.m.? All anyone knew was that it was imminent.

For hours on Thursday night we looked on in silence, and upon awaking Friday morning we saw it wa worse than we imagined. My children ran outside to play in the dangerous stuff. I didn’t have the heart to tell them what they were dealing in.

I just watched in horror as they threw it, rolled in it, ate it. I held my wife’s hand. Tears welled in her eyes. “Stay strong,” I said. The kids were cold and decided to go back inside. We made it through. They survived — barely.

All we can do is outlast it. Time is our enemy. We’ve depleted our bacon and egg supply. There’s just a little milk, and the snow shows no signs of stopping except for the weather telling us that it will end around 11:30 a.m. What about what’s already on the road though? What about that? It could last for hours, possibly until tomorrow. Tomorrow!

Needing supplies, we kept watch on the roads. By the time we felt safe enough to drive a little that afternoon, we had eaten all the chips and salsa in our pantry. Weak with hunger, fatigued physically and emotionally, we braved the weather.

Covered from head to toe, socks on our hands because we couldn’t find gloves, we made the half-mile trek to Kroger. There wasn’t much, but we found enough to make it another day.

Tuesday: This time it came out of nowhere.

The weather lulled us into comfort, then returned like a thief in the night. For the past few days we’d managed pretty well. The roads were OK. We even went to the Grizzlies game Monday like everything was normal. What arrogance!

Tuesday morning, it was back and worse than before. How are we expected to live like this, without help, without hope, without school? This is no way to raise a family.

Jake drew the short straw, so he will be the one to sacrifice himself for the rest of us, if we need supplies. He’s had a good life, though, a long, full 9 years. Hopefully it won’t come to that, but, let’s face it, it probably will.

I feel like we’ve been in this house for weeks even though we got to leave Saturday afternoon, Sunday and Monday. The mind can play tricks on a man. Just now, the dog looked like a giant ham, like in the cartoons.

The bright side is we’ve learned a lot about survival and the resiliency of the human spirit. Rationing the oatmeal, buying an ice scraper, using blankets—these have been the keys to our making it so far.

If things get much worse, though, we’ll have to switch to Emergency Heat. God help us.