I write this, along with a nationwide collective broken heart, for everyone in the path of yesterday’s massive killer tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.
A monster, grinding tornado dropped out of the sky – leaving in its wake utter devastation and obliteration.
In place of homes and kitchens and family rooms, now replaced by piles of rubble. In place of schools and classes and learning, now replaced by shredded buildings and the shredded lives of its tiniest victims.
“Oklahoma is strong. People here are strong, resilient and When mother nature is at her worst, mankind is at its best.” says, Lance West, reporter, KFOR-TV, “here in Oklahoma people are rallying around each other like I have never seen before. And we will rebuild and we will rise through all this devastation. It’s gonna be a long, tedious, emotional process, but we’re all in it together.”
Growing up in “Tornado Alley” – you learn to always plan, to always be prepared. You never learn to avoid the heartache that follows these killer tornadoes.
Now – as I recall my afternoon yesterday with my kids, I am awash with grief for those parents in Oklahoma that no longer have the chance for these moments with their young school age kids:
My kids arguing in the carpool line. One brother popping the other in the head – after they both simultaneously yell, ‘Shotgun!’ and race for the front seat position. Me disciplining the eldest. Me scolding, “CAN YOU BOYS AT LEAST WAIT UNTIL WE GET OUT OF THE SCHOOL ZONE!?!” Though why I used even that reasoning is beyond me.
Then the frogs. The two new frogs to replace the one caught in the filter of the aquarium. In the additional afternoon melee, I hear: “MOM!! He’s GONE! ONE OF THE FROGS! HE’S ON THE FLOOR SOMEWHERE, I CAN’T FIND HIM!” Now I’m on the ground, searching for a tiny (less than an inch) brown frog on my brown floor. The 10-year-old is crying and I’m on all fours, hollering, “STOP! With all your CRYING, I CAN’T SEE!!!” Huh?
Then the arguing over getting all the baseball uniforms together, shuffling through the ‘uniform drawer’- eager to send the twins to their games with their OWN jerseys and their correct numbers – not both in the same jersey number as I’ve done before.
And then the horrifying images on television.
The shock of knowing two schools took a direct hit from the tornado. Now classrooms left in splinters. Hundreds of elementary children missing. Teachers saving some tiny lives by literally covering them with their own bodies – risking their own lives to save the kids. Parents desperate to find their children. A bullhorn announcing the ones found breathing.
Sadly, many do not find their children alive.
So today, I pray.
Though I struggle to find words big enough, to love enough, to pray enough.
I am thankful today for the laundry. For that silly frog I found on the floor. Thankful I have a floor for the dirty socks. Thankful I have a table for the toys the boys left there this morning. Thankful to have a sink full of dirty dishes. Thankful for the messy floor littered with the boys’ toys. Thankful for a staircase strewn in action figures. Thankful for my couch with laundry waiting for me to fold and the legos coloring the cushions.
And thankful I have my children to argue with each other and race for the ‘shotgun’ position, and thankful I have my kids to tell a hundred times to ‘Hurry! Grab your backpacks and snack so we’re not late to school!”
So today, put down your laundry, put down the phone, pick up your kids. Hug them. Because you can.