Tragedy blows through your life like a tornado, uprooting everything, creating chaos. You wait for the dust to settle and then you choose. You can live in the wreckage and pretend it’s still the mansion you remember, or you can crawl from the rubble and slowly rebuild… Because after disaster strikes, the important thing is that you move on. But if you’re like me, you just keep chasing the storm.
I have lived in Arkansas for most of my life and as a result, have dealt with tornados for most of my life. I remember having tornado drills in elementary skill. We would leave our classrooms and go into the hall. We would line up against the walls and get on our knees, put our heads on the floor with our hands on the back of our heads. It wasn’t the most comfortable position even for a seven year old and they seemed to last forever.
My first tornado was when I was 10. It was around one in the morning and I was asleep. I remember the loud rumbling that sounds like a train running over your head. I remember the sound of broken glass as the tornado’s change in air pressure formed a vacuum and sucked out one of the windows. (Pro tip: leave a crack in one of the windows of your home to prevent this from happening to you) I remember freaking out and running to my parents’ bedroom only to find my brother had beat me by two seconds. To be fair, it was his bedroom window that was sacrificed to the tornado gods.
This week, a major tornado ripped through my state. It went about twenty miles north of my house and a mile from the home where I used to live. It ravaged the towns of Mayflower and Vilonia. As of today, the number dead is fourteen. I sat on my futon watching Netflix with the television on one of the local television stations. I heard tornado sirens in the background. I had an emergency kit in my first floor bathroom, ready to go if I was in a position where I needed to “take cover.” Fortunately for me, that never happened.
My friend Cotton is a storm chaser and managed to get into the thick of it. The tornado picked up his truck and moved it 120 feet. He is okay. ‘
The thing that people who don’t live with tornadoes fail to understand is how sudden they are. Sure, we get the “tornado warning” and the sky gets a certain tell tale shade but the actual tornado is sudden and quick. It sounds like a freight training running you over and the timing and devastation is probably about the same. One second you are driving along. The next you hear a loud noise and then boom. Suddenly it’s all over and everything is ruined.
Things like tornados remind us how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things. They remind us of the the power of nature and the randomness of it all. They remind us of how lucky we are to be alive each and every day of our lives.