Thursday, April 28, 2011
The effects of a tornado...
As a 12 year old girl, I still remember my mom urgently telling me and my sisters to grab an extra outfit and anything else we needed and to meet down in the room underneath of the stairs. A tornado warning was not an unusual thing in Texas, but this time for whatever reason, I remember it being more serious. I ran upstairs to my room and began sorting through all of my clothes. There was no way I was going to leave all of my favorites behind, so I didn't. I ran downstairs with arms full of my favorite clothes. I can only imagine what my mom was thinking.
Fast forward 5 years....when I was 17 years old, I went with my Dad and a whole bunch of other priesthood brethren to help with clean up after the huge tornado that hit Oklahoma City. I had never seen anything like it. I remember fighting back tears because I didn't want all the other boys and men to see them. I worked right along with them. It was very hard work and at the end of the day I wondered if we had even made any difference at all. We drove away leaving all of the damage behind us, but to this day, I can still remember walking through a field of debris and seeing a little girl's doll laying on the ground. I came home a different girl that day.
Fast forward 13 years....yesterday I spent the morning transforming our basement toy room into our tornado shelter room. It was filled with 72 hour kits, blankets, pillows, trash bags, food, lots of water, extra clothes, diapers, wipes, tennis shoes, candles, matches, flashlights, batteries, scriptures, important documents, etc. It was the only thing that I could do to prepare for the events that would follow. The first storm came through about mid-morning. The kids were all let out of school and the anxiety began to build as we watched and waited for the storms that were heading our way. Another storm came through at about 5ish and then the last final storm came in at about 7. I think it was the worst one. All though we felt somewhat safe and secure in our basement shelter, the feelings of anxiety and fear are very hard to shut out. The power went out about 5:30 and was off for the rest of the night.
The power came back on in the early morning hours and all seemed okay. Our neighborhood was untouched for the most part. It wasn't until Cory started making phone calls to members of the ward that we found out about all of the damage that surrounded us. We all loaded up in the car and drove about 5 minutes down the road. The pictures above are just snapshots of the harsh reality that faces us.
As a 12 year old little girl, the effects of a tornado were obviously not there. As a 17 year old teenager, I fought back tears of empathy and compassion as I saw what faced the people of Oklahoma City. This morning, as a 30 year old woman, tears freely streamed down my cheeks as I humbly witnessed the devastation of my community. The scary reality of what could have been. As I saw a woman standing amidst the rubble that was once her home, I felt so many emotions. Witnessing, first hand, the effects of a tornado is such an incredibly humbling experience. When I first talked to my mom this morning, we both just cried together. She told me that she just kept praying that the tornado would skip over our little neighborhood. Her prayer was answered. Many lifes are lost and homes are leveled within 5 miles of us in every direction.
So this morning as I laid Hailey down in her crib, kissed Cory goodbye as he left to go help clean up, and turned on the warm shower in my beautiful comfortable home, I felt so much gratitude, and also a little guilt. I yearn to be out there helping. I want to take that sweet lady into my home and feed her. I want to find that little girl all those years ago who lost her baby doll. But even more than that, I want to never forget. To never forget that these things around us that seem so essential and important, are just things. To never forget that in seconds we could lose almost everything, and to never forget that all I really need to make me happy and fulfilled were with me last night in that little basement shelter...three beautiful children, a very active baby in my tummy, and the love of my life. Not all the effects of a tornado are devastating. The unseen ones, the ones that can only be found in the deepest emotions of the heart and soul, are the ones that stay with you and hopefully change you.
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