One Month Later…

It has been one month, almost to the hour, that the storms that changed so many lives began to roll into Alabama. Almost as a sorrowful reminder, I sit typing this to the sounds of thunder and impending rain. Over the past few weeks so many others in places like Joplin, MO and parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas have seen the devastation we in Alabama have been living with for the past month. Much has changed but much remains the same. Roads are no longer lined with trees, now just vast open sky above. Houses still have bright blue tarps across roofs and windows, trying to keep out the rain, wind and painful memories. Business remain closed, some possibly never to reopen. People have gone back to work, children are finishing school for the summer and though the evidence is still all around us life is moving forward……because it has to.

We can never get completely past the events of last month, nor should we. Those storms changed us all…permanently …deeply and forever but changed us for the better I pray. I know I am more grateful for all I have now than I was 4 weeks ago. I try to be kinder, more respectful to people because you never know if someone you are standing with in line at the grocery store has anywhere to take the items they are buying. Is there house gone? Did they loose someone that day? We are all picking up the pieces, some have heavier pieces to carry than others, but we are all broken in a way.

My heart weeps for those in Joplin and places like it that are just beginning to understand what they have been though and what it is going to take to come out the other side. I pray they can find the resolve to carry forward as so many here have begun to do. I pray for peace for them, hope and that they can feel our thoughts and prayers in the darkest of nights. They, like us in Alabama, will rebuild and recover and always remember how fragile life really is and make the most of the days we are given. Please continue to pray for everyone who has been affected. If you are able, volunteer somewhere, donate to The Red Cross or The Salvation Army or another local charity sending aid. We are all neighbors when tragedy strikes and our neighbors need our support and love, I pray you will find a way to give that of yourself.

This is a story of a friend of mine, whom I had known for 10+ years. She did not survive the storms in Pleasant Grove but her memory and legacy live on in her beautiful baby boy Tucker. God bless all and take care.

In the chaos after a tornado hit Pleasant Grove, 7 week old William Tucker Lowe was separated from his father. Minutes after we showed baby Lowe’s photo on air, he was reunited with his father, Josh Lowe. Tragically, the baby’s mother, Carrie Lowe, did not survive the storm. Josh says he will spend a lifetime telling his son about Carrie, who died a hero.

via Baby Lowe: how he and his dad are doing now.

That day….

I know it has been awhile since I have posted here. I wish I could say it was because I was busy sewing, or cooking, or preparing for this new baby to come. Sorrowfully my absence has been one of devastation, heart-break and utter exhaustion. You have undoubtedly seen what has transpired in my home state of Alabama over the past few weeks. Our little corner of the South was ravaged by 29 separate tornadoes on April 27th. These storms took homes, businesses and lives, 239 lives lost in seconds. Over the past few weeks I had mourned the loss of friends, gathered donations for people who have lost everything they own and tried to figure out where we all go from here.

Dozens of Alabama communities completely wiped off the map. Leveled. Gone. Among them was my hometown of Pleasant Grove and my beloved college town of Tuscaloosa. The pictures do not begin to show the wrath of these storms. They tore though neighborhoods, schools, entire communities with no regard to whom or what was in its path. Leaving in its wake literally nothing. This is what it looks like when the hand of God himself touches Earth.

A neighborhood in Pleasant Grove a few miles from my childhood home

My old church. Nothing left standing but this wall.

Another neighborhood in Pleasant Grove

A major intersection in Tuscaloosa, AL.

A before and after of part of the damage in Tuscaloosa.

Life has forever been altered here. Not a day has gone by that I don’t think about that day. It will be a day that haunts many of us for the rest of our lives. I know how blessed I am that no one in my family was hurt. I haven’t yet fully processed what happened around me, maybe I never will.

Someone asked the other day “when do we turn the page from this?” The reality is the page has been turned; this is the new chapter of our lives here in Alabama. People talk about getting back to normal, there is no going back. This is the new normal. Things will be rebuilt, roads will be cleared and trees will someday grow leaves and shade the ground as they once did. But there will always be scars, visible, painful scars.

But just maybe the scars aren’t a bad thing. They exist to remind us we are still here. They may be painful and make us remember a tragic and horrible day, but with them we know we will never forget. We won’t forget those we lost and those we came so close to loosing. The scars will make us hold our loved ones a little tighter, tell them we love them one more time because we remember that in the blink of an eye everything could be wiped away. I hope I can embrace the scars and that each time I see them I will know we are stronger than the storm. We are a people who, in our darkest hours, rose up together and prevailed. We came together and lifted our neighbors from the rubble and we walked out, as one. We are a people of faith and we know this too shall pass. I have never been more proud to call Alabama my home.

If you pray I ask you pray for us. Pray for strength, hope and peace. Pray that we will remain resolute in our efforts to rebuild what once was. In turn we will pray for you. We will pray that you know and understand how delicate life is. How quickly it can be taken away and that you never let a day go by without counting yourself blessed in some way. God bless you and yours.

The pathway is broken
And The signs are unclear
And I don’t know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I’m gonna walk through the valley
If You want me to
-Ginny Owens, If you want me to