November 23, 2015 2 minute read
I was asked what it feels like to have a baby fighting for its life in a NICU for 120 days only to have them lose their battle. We’ve seen both the joy of bringing one home and the pain of saying goodbye to one. So how does it feel? Like living in tornado alley during storm season without a cellar to run to. Unprepared and unprotected. Every time a supercell appears you panic that this could be the one that produces the tornado that’s going to rip it’s way across the life you’ve built. These storms never come calmly.
Then it happens – the one you prayed would never come arrives. This time you didn’t get a warning. You were too busy enjoying the warmer weather, too busy falling asleep under all of the joys and offerings the sun brings. Eyes closed in bliss you missed the conjuring of it. When you open your eyes and see it you’re frozen with fear, because this storm is unlike any storm you’ve encountered before. The air smells strange and the wind is shifting differently, the hail and rain are so heavy that visibility is impossible. This can’t be the one – you’re not ready. You don’t have time to protect yourself from what Mother Nature just birthed. You can hear its deafening ugly roar, but nothing can prepare you for the devastation an F5 tornado brings. It rips you off your feet and slams you into debris that should have killed you. You feel like every limb is going to be torn from your body – like you’re being turned inside out. You want to die. Why haven’t you died? Well, life isn’t that kind.
When it’s over and you finally find the strength to stand up you quickly fall back down. It’s messy. Everything has changed. How can you possibly rebuild again? As you slowly start to remove the wreckage from your new life the people you know and love emerge from their shelters – shocked and sickened by the horror of it all. They may have heard it, may have seen it coming, but they were safe. They didn’t actually live through it. You did. Yes, they have a mess to address, but it can’t ever compare to what you just endured. Some people you know just can’t deal with the magnitude of the destruction and they have no interest in rebuilding with you so they simply leave – they start over someplace else. Others rebuild what was damaged of their life and once that’s complete they stay within the walls of their new home, offering no further help. You have a few left that understand you can’t rebuild this alone so they stay.
Eventually, you have a new place. But it’s not the same – it’s not home. It was built too fast and it still feels like it might crumble at the slightest breeze. Over time you make it feel like home and you try to make the structure more secure. Things appear to be fine from the outside, but you will always panic when the clouds come rolling in. Others may forget but the emotional scars of that dark day will haunt you for the rest of your life. You came out alive but you came out of it a different person. You will never be the same after a surviving such a tragic loss.