Tonight Bennett told me "His Story."
4 1/2 months after it happened he spontaneously spoke about it.
After I've asked him time after time after time after time
if he wanted to talk about it....
if he would talk about it....
if he could talk about it.....
After he's told me time after time after time after time
He finally talked.
I asked him if I could write it down, and he said that I could....but he didn't want to have to speak about it again so I'd have to do it from memory.
I will ask him if I can share it on the blog.....and hopefully he will let me.
Until then....I will simply tell you that he remembers a lot of things that I do NOT recall...and that again, my stomach churned, my eyes teared up, and i had monstrous goose bumps all over my body while I listened to his account of May 22nd.
We were driving home from the Young Life "non-banquet" and had to go down the entire stretch of Main Street.
You simply cannot drive from the South to the North end of town without passing through the DZ.
Somehow....be it fate, God's provision, or simple unconscious avoidance I have been able to NOT go through the DZ at night very much at all.
In fact, this was only the 2nd time I'd done it....and I CERTAINLY hadn't done it with the kids.
We drove past Auto Zone, and Carolyn was reading the letters and asked Ethan what it spelled.
The 'T' was gone in the sign, so Ethan wasn't really sure what 'ATO" spelled and asked me.
I explained the missing letter mystery, and Carolyn asked where the 'T' had gone.
This store sits on the edge of the DZ, so I replied that the tornado had probably knocked it down.
As is so often the case, the simple mention of the tornado changes the atmosphere in the car....especially as we drove into the eerily darkened area of Main St.
It was only 7:40ish, so you could still see outlines of busted buildings and empty spaces (and I realize that empty spaces don't officially HAVE outlines but you really do know somehow that the spaces are THERE and maybe it's just a felling of the lack of ANYTHING being there when there SHOULD be something there??) and an occasional random flashing yellow light.
I guess that everything combined got my kids in a talking kind of mood.
As we drove I asked Ethan if he remembered being in the car with his uncle.
He said he did.
I asked him what he remembered seeing, and he said, "Things flying by the car....like cardboard and other stuff I didn't know what it was."
I asked him if he remembered pulling up into some guy's front porch to take shelter, and he said, "No."
Bennett turned around to look at him, and began quizzing him on WHY he didn't remember a fact that he had not only TOLD us about but had SHOWN us which house it was.
I gave Bennett one of those copyrighted "Mom-looks" (later to explain to him that sometimes God lets us forget things that are too hard or painful for our minds to remember and to let Ethan remember what he wants to right now....hope that was the right thing!) and asked Ethan what he DID remember.
Ethan told us something we hadn't heard before.
He said that they were driving to our neighborhood and he and his cousin had their heads on the seat like their uncle had told them ("Put your heads down and take a rest boys, just take a rest...") when the car stopped.
A man was standing (according to Ethan) on TOP of his wrecked smashed-up car, and their uncle stopped his truck and asked him if he was hurt or needed help.
The man replied no, that he was just trying to call someone on his phone, and so their uncle continued driving toward our home.
(Later in the evening Ethan told us that when Uncle Frank's truck "Made it to my house I was scared when I saw the house because I thought that the people who were in it were maybe dead." "You thought WE were dead?"--asked Barrett, and Ethan nodded....)
I said to Ethan, "That must have been so scary for you."
He said yes, and then I asked Bennett if HE had been scared that night.
He said he was scared about Ethan and Wyatt and his aunt and uncle.
I said I had been scared about them too, but then asked him if he had been scared for HIMSELF when we were in our basement.
He thought for a moment and said, "Well, when I heard all of the (insert appropriate sound effects here that mean crashing and banging) noise I was pretty scared that the house would fall in on us."
Then he turned to me and said, "Do you want to hear MY STORY?"
And I kept looking forward, slowed down, and said, "Yes."
4 1/2 months.
That's a long time to go without talking.
We're all ok.
But we've been affected.....so are we affected?
My dad and step mom came last week for a visit, and my dad told me that every single one of my friends and acquaintances he spoke with had PTSD.
He's probably right, you know.
This whole down does, to some degree or another.
Maybe you talk about the tornado INCESSANTLY.
Maybe you continuously call yourself a victim and look for free help.
Maybe you've been "relocated" and are trying to find that lost sense of home.
Maybe you refuse to speak about it because it was just a storm and it's over now.
Maybe you cry at random things during the day.
Maybe you never cry during the day but keep waking up with a wet pillow.
Maybe you get annoyed at people who "just can't shut up and be over it."
Maybe you still live in a tent (and these people are out there).
Maybe you are rebuilding and praying it will bring you a sense of closure.
Maybe you are finally getting used to going to the "other" Walmart.
Maybe you keep making the turns that lead to your old house instead of your new one.
Maybe you question whether your lack of memory and organization can still be blamed on the tornado or whether you have an actually biological issue.
Maybe you are totally fine until someone asks you if you're fine and you get angry because you are SO fine.
Maybe you have a lot of migraines.
Maybe more than one of these apply to you.
Maybe there is something more you could add to this list.
All I'm saying is.....4 1/2 months.
Life is going on....the blessings are flowing and MY gratefulness truly knows no bounds.....
But 4 1/2 months ago something happened.
And it did affect us.