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One of the most important things I have learned in life is that everything happens for a reason.  We may not appreciate at the time what that reason is and it could take months, years, or perhaps a lifetime to fully understand 'why'.  Yet no matter the length of time which has passed nor the form that it takes, the moment of enlightenment has the power to completely transform one's perspective and facilitate a level of acceptance which previously may not have been possible.

From the moment I arrived at work, my day had been a steady stream of challenges and interruptions to my planned activites.  From the colleagues undermining my authority and keeping me from doing my job; to the technician who was unable to deliver on promises made; the music lesson I was late arriving to and delayed in leaving from; the pouring rain that hit each and every time I needed to move between buildings and ultimately my car; I spent the day literally drowning...

Had I not left my car keys back at my desk on route to my music lesson - leading my decision to leave my flute and books in the music office for later collection; had I not been late to picking my daughter up from the auditorium - resulting in me having to walk the width of the school twice over through a torrential down-pour and ultimately delaying our departure; had it not been raining so heavily that the school grounds were flooding - forcing us to traverse ankle-deep puddles and ultimately delaying our departure; had we not stopped in the music office to debate the wisdom of attempting to drive to the dance studio -  ultimately delaying our departure; had my manager not come over to extend her support in regards to earlier mentioned issues with colleagues - ultimately delaying our departure; this evening may have played out very differently for our family...

Had just ONE of these disruptions to my schedule not taken place, Satine and I would have been sitting in our car, travelling down Rosedale Road, in the direct path of the freak tornado which struck Albany today.  But instead, we were running towards the car - my precious just-turned eight-year-old ahead of me - when I looked across the carpark to gauge the traffic, when I saw what I thought was a large cloud of billowing smoke.  I opened the nearest door to one of the music rooms and called towards the music office beckoning my dear friend to come.  'There's a huge fire somewhere across the road... look at all that smoke!'  We could see sheets of paper flying around.  'Wow, it must be really bad!'  Wait, the paper look like birds flapping their wings.  But why would birds be circling around in the smoke from a fire??

It was 3.05pm by my watch and although it runs fast (as all watches and clocks belonging to me do) we were running late.  But the rain was easing and as long as the traffic was okay, we could make it to the dance studio on time. 

As we scurried out of the school grounds, I spotted several colleagues standing outside looking in the direction of the grey cloud of smoke.  Only, the smoke had shifted - perhaps we won't get caught up in any traffic delays after all?  Finally, a silver lining to an otherwise stress-filled day.

'Where do you think the fire is Mama?'  Good question.  I honestly though it was just there.  Just in front of our school.  I must have been wrong.  It must be further to our right.  Which makes perfect sense.  Lots of commercial buildings around the Bush Road area.  Jeepers, wasn't it just yesterday that there was a fatal house fire in Browns Bay?...

Oh my!  What's going on?  Why are the cars in front of us swerving over the median lines?  Eeek!  They're swerving to avoid something on the road.  What is it?  Some sort of rubbish... No, it's debri... from a house sale sign?  No, it's fencing material... Oh gawd, that house is missing half it's roof!  There are roofing tiles littered all across their lawn, spilling onto the footpath and the road!!  Wow, that was some rain to have taken the roof tiles off that house!!

'How could the smoke from that fire be strong enough to take the roof off that house Mama?'

It's just not possible.

'Look Mama, there's a huge hole in the roof of that house too - there's rain pouring in bucket loads into the house!'

Oh the poor home owners.  One can only imagine how devastating it must be to return from work and discover such devastation.  Unbelievable.

I briefly spoke to my husband upon our arrival to the dance studio.  He too was in Albany around 3.00pm and on his way home he saw several people lining the streets craning their necks watching events unfold.  But it wasn't a fire as I had thought.  No, accroding to Grant and his colleagues there was a massive car accident on the nearby motorway.

It wasn't until we emerged from the confines of the dance studio that we learned what had really happened - a tornado had ripped through Albany with one fatality confirmed already.  Driving home, retracing our earlier car trip down Rosedale Road, we once again passed the damaged houses.  Only this time, we spotted several more - surrounded by fire trucks, police vehicles and emergency crew - in a direct line across the area we had been house hunting in less than a year ago.

Then it hit me - like a jolt of lightning - the tornado crossed Albany only a couple of hundred meters away from school...

As we neared the intersection by Pinehurst I faught back the tears and decided to turn left down Bush Road in an effort to avoid the traffic which had come to a halt further down Rosedale Road towards Albany Highway.

Then wham!  I was hit once again with another realisation.  The tornado crossed Rosedale Road.  The tornado crossed Rosedale Road at the exact time and on the exact place we would have been traveling under normal circumstances.  But today's circumstances were far from normal.

Had just one of today's divergences from normality not ocurred, we would have found ourselves in the direct path of the tornado.

Had just one of today's divergences from normality not ocurred, we would have found ourselves in the direct path of the tornado.

Let me state it one more time: Had just one of today's divergences from normality not ocurred, we would have found ourselves in the direct path of the tornado.

I have spen the past five hours trying to digest this...

Tonight as I lie in bed awaiting for sleep to over-come me, I will give thanks for my out of character absent-mindedness; the rain which saw us soaked to the bone; and even the less-than-enjoyable interractions with certain colleagues.  I will give thanks to all of these because singularly and combined, these annoyances ultimately saved our lives.