I had been on the phone with the military’s new insurance company a good chunk of the morning trying to figure out why they still seemed to think I had another primary insurance when we had filled out the form saying I didn’t and turned it in on base over a month ago. I was frustrated and irritated with people in general after being bounced from department to department with no resolution to my problem other than those requiring ME to resubmit the same form.
A little while later I took a break from work and checked Facebook quickly. That’s when I saw the posts. Each a different variation of “Prayers for OK.” No specifics were mentioned, but to see that many I knew something horrible had happened. So I Googled “breaking news Oklahoma” and saw the images that prompted these Facebook messages. Luckily I don’t have any close personal friends or family in the area hit by the tornado, but my heart ached all the same. Those scenes playing out on every website I found resonated with me because they reminded me of a similar situation just 5 years ago when a tornado skirted my friends home, but demolished several around it.
Her teenage daughter was home alone when the twister hit and somehow knew to go to the innermost room for shelter despite living in an area not prone to such dangers. The experience caused her nightmares and anxiety afterwards. And rightly so. I recall seeing a 2×6 from their neighbor’s rafters lodged into the interior wall of their family room when I came to help them pack up to move out for the repairs.
I have many memories of that event, like my friend’s frantic call to me as she rushed home that night once she heard the storm had hit and her daughter had been home. I remember watching her neighbors shift through the debris pile that used to be their home just hoping to find a few photos to keep. I can still see the path the twister took through the neighborhood, obliterating some addresses and completely skipping others clearly in my mind. I recall marveling at the force and power the funnel had as I saw cars left inside buildings. But what I remember most about the entire event is the generosity of the people.
Some volunteered to help my friend pack up and move out of her home like I did. Friends watched pets who couldn’t stay in the hotels with displaced families. Others opened their own home for victims to have a place to stay when the hotels became full. Complete strangers patrolled the neighborhood handing out food and water for victims and volunteers. Everywhere you looked everyone was doing something to help. It was amazing to see not only their small community, but the surrounding region well up with such a vast support network. Miraculously no one was killed that time, even with a middle school and hospital directly in the storm’s path.
Now the damaged buildings have been repaired. Those destroyed homes have been rebuilt. The earth’s scars have been covered by new growth. And those affected have learned what is truly important and just how strong they really are.
All of these thoughts flashed through my mind as I saw the news footage yesterday and suddenly I just couldn’t bring myself to complain about my menial issues. I realized I am blessed in so many ways that I often don’t even realize it. I often try to remind myself to look at the big picture in those moments of frustration. Just this weekend I printed and framed a quote for my bathroom that says “Someone else is happy with less than what you have.” I am sure that many of those survivors fall into that category right now, including this woman who was happy enough to have survived, but elated to then find her dog alive in the rubble as she recounted her experience. I hope the lyrics of Craig Morgan’s “This Ain’t Nothin” become these victim’s anthem as they recover and eventually rebuild their presently shattered lives.
I hope each of you will take stock of your blessings today and make a conscious effort to remember that even when the storm hits there are those worse off than you, who are picking up the pieces and carrying on regardless. I call that blessed strength, because only a power higher than yourself can give you the strength to carry on when the facts say you should just give up. I wish you all such a blessing and especially those affected by this horrible loss.