My alarm went off this morning and contrary to my normal routine, I hit the snooze thinking five minutes of gentle stretching might give me some relief from the fibro pain radiating through my body. Instead, within a couple of minutes the glaring sound of a tornado warning siren ripped through
Its been five years since an EF4 tornado tore my hometown apart....leaving behind it death and destruction and a community of people forever changed. Every time I hear the sound of that siren....every single time....my heart jumps into my throat and my mind races back to that day.....to the emotions.....the fears....the interminable waiting for news. The siren pierces my heart and I am once again sitting on the floor at our elementary school with frightened children huddled around me. I remember my mind racing, thinking about my own children, wondering.....praying for their safety.
My oldest son was likely crouched in the hallway of the elementary school where he worked, my daughter hopefully sitting in a safe place at the community college she attended, my youngest son also waiting in another hallway at his school. In the age of cell phones, rumors flew between the adults in our school........"a tornado was spotted at the airport"......"a school has been hit"...."we think its a junior high.....yes....Old Junior"......my heart sinks and I begin to shake.....Lewie is at Old Junior........then, no it isn't Old Junior......I feel tears on my face.......I begin to breathe again.
When the tornado finally passes, the truth of what has happened is revealed and the sorrow and anxiety begins anew. Two schools suffered direct hits......our high school and the elementary school where my oldest son worked. It would be hours until I would be reunited with my children, all my children...... that night we dragged pillows and blankets into our living room in order to sleep huddled together, windows open to the constant sound of sirens from ambulances, police and firetrucks vibrating through the darkness. I remember reaching out and touching each of my children, weeping quiet tears of thankfulness.....praying for those families whose children had been taken from them....and hearing my grown son breakdown when the full realization of what he had been through finally hit him, cradling him until his tears ceased.......for me there was no sleep that night as I watched over my children, touching their hands, their hair....reassuring myself that they were there...at least for that moment.
And so my day began.......and now as I recall and write, I realize that once again, there are tears on my face and I begin to pray.......