April 27th, 2016 is two years since my life changed with little warning. Two years ago, April 27th, 2014 our home was destroyed by an EF-4 tornado. I’ve mentioned this a few times on the blog, but today I wanted to write about being a survivor.
I don’t think anyone can truly understand how difficult this time is unless they’ve been through it themselves. It wasn’t just a damaged house… It was a house that, as you can see above, literally was swept clean. I’m standing where the front door should’ve been, and you’d be looking through our living room.
Funniest story that came from this though (because I’m having a difficult time writing about the negatives)….
We didn’t recover much of anything. You could probably fit everything we found and still have in a tote box. We did, however, find a full, unopened, fully intact bottle of tequila with a couple of our shot glasses from our first wedding anniversary trip. Never saw the fridge that it was on top of… But we found the tequila. We think maybe it’s because it was never opened.
There were great people from all walks of life that helped us. There were also a lot of really awful people. But, I still can’t really write about the bad. Sometimes it’s just too much, even now. So let me tell you about my favorite story of someone who helped. My mother-in-law was cleaning up and a very old man walked down the street. I believe she said that he had a white beard. He was looking for my husband, who wasn’t there at the moment. He handed her an envelope. It had $100 in it. He walked back down the road and we have no clue who he was or how he knew my husband and why he decided that was for us. We nicknamed him Noah. So wherever Noah is, and whoever he is… We thank you and appreciate you and your help.
I’m thinking maybe my need to see the bright side is really why I feel that this definition from dictionary.com really dictates exactly how I feel 2 years later.
“survivor-noun: a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.”
Storms will come. They do. They might even today. I still deal with post traumatic stress. I’m still learning how to deal with it without getting really sick afterwards. The weekly siren test just happened and I had a panic attack. I still have an on-going mental list of what we lost. I still go looking for things that we don’t have anymore. We don’t have many things and most everything we have is hand me downs. (Not that we mind! We have many nice things that are hand me downs.) There’s still many, many things we don’t have the ability to get ourselves on one income, like a bed frame for our bed (which, we’ve come to not mind), or dressers for our kid’s clothes, or new furniture. Our yard is still not recovered and not safe for our kids to play on. But, if I’m being really honest… I’d rather have my kids and husband alive and happy than to worry about the possessions. While needed, they’re not everything. And the yard… Well it’s a lot of hard work and thank goodness for Crossfit being functional fitness… I’m putting all that hard work to use and being functional for once!
I still struggle. I still have a lot of issues. I’m not the only one either. There are still plenty of family and friends that are making their own lists, and stressing any time there’s severe weather. This is not something that you just “get over.” It’s the type of situation that you will remember your entire life.
The Sun rises each morning. Life moves on. It was so hard going through this wanting to live about 3 days at a time. Truly, we can only live one at a time.. Even more so, we only have the moment that we’re in. We have to find the light in life. We can let moments like this in life redefine us for better or worse. We can allow them to make us cynical (been there), angry, depressed (been there too). Or we can allow it to make us stronger. It can give us a stronger resolve to love and enjoy life.
If I get angry about anything it’s that people waste so much time on ridiculous things. It took about 60 seconds for everything to change. It doesn’t matter what you owned, how nice your things were. Each new social media argument/controversy is pointless and petty. What you believe or who you vote for.. It really doesn’t matter. What truly matters is loving people. Appreciating each moment.
We don’t have to be victims in life. We have a choice to over come adversity. We don’t have to settle. We can be amazing. It is a choice. I choose to be a survivor.
-Ami M. Lee, The Common Sense Cook, Tornado Survivor