This has been one heck of a week . . .yes, it has. Easter weekend was good (and I will post pictures later) and we enjoyed spending time with Glenn and Lauren and our nephew Ben. The day after Easter is one of my busiest days of the year so I arrived at work about 45 minutes early to get a head start. I had a check-up with my doctor. . .and worked like crazy. Tuesday was the memorial service for Jake. I knew that it would be sad . . .21 year old boys should not die. We got to the church (the same one where we attended Susan's funeral (his mom) two and a half years ago). They were running a continuous slide show of Jake. I wasn't expecting what happened to me when I saw the first picture of Susan. A sob welled up from deep inside of me. I felt like the scab had been ripped off of an almost healed sore (I know that is gross and graphic but that is exactly how I felt.) I was so thankful to have Laura and Mark with me . . .of course, they were both weeping also. After the funeral, I had to get to my car. I just didn't think I could talk to anyone. I was very thankful that I got to see Mark P. (Jake's daddy) before the service.
I came home and started the dinner for our young adult study. We had a great group (we ALWAYS have a great group - we love them!!) They were patient with me because it was not my best night of facilitating. I was just so sad but I must admit that spending time with them made me feel so much better. We cleaned up and went to bed . . .and were awakened at 5:18 on Wednesday morning by tornado sirens. I got up and turned on the tv and the tornado was headed toward us so Mark, Laura and I headed to the basement. We heard that there were 100 mile per hour winds going over tannehill which is not that far from us. We have heard that the winds were 80 mph when they came up over the side of the mountain. Our power went out so I took a shower and packed a bag and started the drive to work with wet hair. Little did I know that it would take me an hour and a half to drive to work. We knew that there were trees down on the road behind our house. There was a tree on the house at the end of the street. There was a giant tree down behind the house across the street but that was minor. The main road that is right behind our house that runs along the Crest was totally blocked. There is another road that runs parallel . . .it was impassable also. I just kept turning and trying to get to another main road. I actually had to stop at a Hardee's to go to the bathroom because I had been in the car so long! I finally made it to work and started to hear about damage in other areas. Two of the girls in the office has pretty major damage in their neighborhood and one of them couldn't even get out of her neighborhood. Then we started getting reports that the schools were closing early and many businesses were closing early. They made a decision to close the church office at 2:00 but since the storms usually come from the west, I decided to go on and head home about 1:15 . . .it took me an hour to get home. I only live about 9 miles from the office. I felt so relieved to be home in my own home. Outside the air was very hot and humid. Our power had come back on after about three hours so since I was home, I started cleaning out a closet. Laura was home and Mark got home early. The sirens started going off again so we went to the basement . . .I guess it was around 4:45. Since we had power, we turned on the tv in the basement so we could see where the storms were headed. I don't have a good idea of the timeline here. . .but at some point, the weatherman started going nuts. There was a huge tornado headed for Tuscaloosa which is about 45 minutes or an hour from our house. James Spann (local weather) was saying things like, "this is not our normal hook . ..this is something major. Get in your safe place now." There was a video camera pointed at the tornado and we all sat with our mouths hanging open as we watched it approach Tuscaloosa - this is the town where the University of Alabama is and many of our friends are students there. I actually prayed out loud, "O Father watch over Hilary and Meredith and . . .named our other friends - keep them safe." The tornado was a mile wide and plowed through our state. We watched as it approached Birmingham and then . . .our power went out. The sirens started going off and we weren't sure where it was located so we stayed in the basement. The tornado continued to plow through the state causing mass destruction. Over 200 people are dead . . .and there are many who are not accounted for. Entire neighborhoods are gone. It is sad about the structures and homes and businesses but it is heart wrenching about the lives lost.
I guess the one bright spot in this week has been watching the people of our state. We are good people. Men with chainsaws have been helping others get the trees off of their houses. Churches are working together. I received a phone call this morning asking me to send out a churchwide email requesting diapers, baby wipes, toilet paper and tarps. I asked Kirk if that was all . . .and he said, "the Baptists are feeding them and have lots of water." Some people have only the clothes that they were wearing when the tornado hit.
There is a bright spot in all this darkness. We are called to be light bearers, aren't we? I went to Walmart today and there were people all over the store buying for others. There were people buying clothes to donate. There were people buying toilet paper and diapers and wipes. As a matter of fact, almost all of the wipes were sold out. There were people loading their carts with cases of bottled water. I actually had tears in my eyes when I looked around and saw the goodness of people. So often we only hear about the bad stuff . . .this was people at their best.
This has been a hard week. Yes, it has.