Somewhere on a day Stephanie didn’t even know at a time she wasn’t sure about in a state of mind she could barely fathom, a weather reporter shared news of the upcoming storm.

“A winter storm warning for the entire western North Carolina region remains in effect tonight through Tuesday night due to a dangerous mix of icing and snow accumulation.”

Stephanie’s eyes hovered on the television as she half-dozed sideways on her couch. It was always the same old thing: some ominous alarm from some young and perky meteorologist that usually amounted to nothing the next day.

“Duke Energy reports they are prepared to respond to the winter storm that’s expecting to move through the region this Monday night. Company trucks are stocked and fueled, with crews ready to respond to outages. The icing could knock trees and limbs into power lines all depending on the strength of the storm.”

The screen showed a number to call and a website to contact for power outages. Stephanie simply closed her eyes and thought for a moment about how much of a supply she had.

I’ll be fine for a while. So bring on the ice and the snow. Let everybody else’s life shut down.

Stephanie knew her power lines had been down for a long time.

She picked up her phone and turned it on. The familiar beach scene came up like it always did. A real place that belonged to her and her memories. It always brought a small bit of hope to see the sand and the blue seas in the snapshot.

The information on top of the photo said it was 4:35 p.m. on Monday, January 25.

She would think about this moment often after everything happened. Stephanie would recall being sprawled out on this couch watching the news and dismissing it the same way she dismissed pretty much everything else in her life.

Some things should never be disregarded and disrespected. Especially Mother Nature.