The Joplin Tornado

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In 2 days it will mark 5 years since the Joplin tornado . I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget the helplessness as I looked at my children and pets in that closet and thinking what if they are taken from me and I survive. I couldn’t fight it,  bargain with it or run from it. I had to hold them and wait.  It was the most life changing moments. It’s when I knew this life is all that is guaranteed. No fantasy could snap me out of the depression that I am helpless and cannot control every danger my children  will face. It wasn’t until I found out I was pregnant with Allyson that the depression faded.  But there were very bleak moments,  and so many nights I couldn’t sleep.
Life has changed so much in 5 years. I wouldn’t recognize that person now. The struggles and climbing out of poverty have shaped me. I’m now a result of empathy.
I think survivors guilt is the hardest part. Once you are able to process that it’s not about who deserves or doesn’t deserve to live,  it takes on new light. 
Those first couple of months were hard.  I lost it in my own way that summer. I couldn’t sleep and sleeping pills didn’t help so I’d stay up for days. I had never picked up a circular saw,  but I started refurbishing old furniture I found or bought at thrift stores. I’d break it down and create something we needed or just anything I could turn it into. I still have the tables and shelves.  I painted murals on the walls.  I’d go until I could sleep.  And then one day I wasn’t ok but I was better. 
I saw humanity that summer.  I remember being in the emergency aide lines.  The tears,  strangers just walking up, embracing you and saying it’s OK to cry.  It was unlike anything I’d ever seen.
We’ve been lucky.  There were 160 on that day that didn’t make it.  And I’ll say now,  yes there are atheists in fox holes. But after you climb out the perspective is different. Reality can change quickly. Fight for yourself and those unable to fight.  And appreciate the tangible.

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