|My box of precious|
I have seen the very spot, the very start of something awful, afterward. The beginning of endings. A notorious addition to the history of horrible things which can happen to a nation, a state, a town, a street, a home and a life. Spring may be a season when the heart turns to love but the warming weather which brings greening grass is a different kind of season for those living in and around Tornado Alley. A season of waiting.
Not everyone is waiting. There are folks who scoff at the plethora of meteorologists adept at issuing the weather notifications. The state map laid out in county lines like a patchwork quilt - pieces of green, blue, red, and yellow depending on the weather of the moment - hail, wind, thunderstorm, tornado. But once you have experienced a tornado or have seen the destructive aftermath, the watches and warnings become a saving grace, giving you time to take appropriate action.
Just weeks ago, an EF-4 tornado (10 MPH short of an EF-5) devastated two nearby towns. My plane was boarding when I got the call that the tornado sirens were going off at home. The bright Texas sun was setting behind me as I looked out of my window. To the north, mountainous storms climbed higher than we flew. Gold lightening played across the storm face, weaving in and out and down. The cabin lights were dimmed except for the individual lamp overhead. The pilot announced we might have turbulence and everyone was to stay seated. The man across the aisle from me was sitting with his head in his hands. I told myself I wouldn't scream if we were to plunge a few hundred feet. In my head, I tried to say the books of the Old Testament (bad student) and sing Dan Fogelberg songs (good student.)
Never one to hide my eyes, I looked out over the wing only to see the engine bobbing through wind and rain. Moving up and down. With much metallic give, I could only hope. I really didn't want to be on that plane but there I was. You could almost feel the plane sigh in relief when the pilot announced we were making our descent. Our descent - we were all in this together. No problem. When I walked out of the plane, I told the attendant to kiss the pilot for me. If he had been standing there, I would have pecked him on the cheek.
As the plane taxied to the gate, word of the tornadoes and power outages spread, upsetting those living near the affected areas. Of course, right after such an event, nobody really knows what is going on. Strangely and thankfully, my most eventful moments had been while up in the air. Preferably, nothing eventful in the air or on the ground would have been best.
The media coverage of the devastation brought to my mind the tornado in Joplin. Not that I really needed reminding. It is unforgettable. The people in the nearby towns affected this spring will always know where they were. The pictures in their mind will become before and after.
I took plenty of pictures Memorial Day weekend 2011. But I hadn't looked at them in over two years. Maybe three years is enough time to write about it, complete with pictures. I opened the file. Viewing the still shots and especially the few videos, brought new tears to my eyes. I had never resided there but I had shared hundreds of hours visiting and staying with my husband's family.
On Sunday, May 22, 2011, the news broke while I was watching another program. We were able to call a relative and find out they were okay but had a lot of damage, then the call dropped. The rest of the night we waited for information about other relatives in town. I turned on CNN and began watching.