This is a simple story of a simple family trying to slow down this crazy life and enjoy the "moments"...

Monday, November 14, 2011


So for the last few days everyone has been telling me (and when I say everyone I mean at least one (if not two or three) random or different people each day) that the 6 month tornado anniversary time-period is going to be really tough for people.

My mom the nurse has given me articles with all kinds of experts backing this fact up with suggestions on how to cope.

People in the grocery store line have graciously warned both me and fellow customers that its going to "really suck" for some of Joplin when the 6 month mark hits and "they" realize that their lives are still not put back together.

Electronic "change-screen billboards" around town are informing Joplin about a memorial service on
 11-22-11, then following up with a "When You Need Mental Health Help" screen.

(So...6 months.
100 days.
Haven't I had a post like this before????)

Here's my observation on this.

Time goes on.

Every day things become a little easier......overall.

I say overall, because interspersed in that gradual upward emotional climb are some jagged downward peaks.


Conventional wisdom (including mental health experts, Biblical wisdom and life experience) says that with the passage of time.....hurt eases.

This is true, to some extent.

However, there is something a little different that happens when the main event involves a TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE.

You see....God created our minds and bodies in a really amazing way.

He gave us this incredible substance called adrenaline to get us through crazy experiences.

He also gave us the ability to completely block things out of our memories until our minds are able to process them.....allowing us to "compartmentalize"---or tuck certain emotions away into little internal boxes and keep them closed for an indefinite amount of time.

When a traumatic event occurs....there are too many BIG things that happen to you all at once.

You can't mentally/emotionally/physiologically handle all of these things. deal with the immediate surface issues and hide the rest of the things away.

By things I mean: visual memories, hard conversations, emotional memories, physical pain, unanswerable questions etc.

In fact, you become kind of numb....operating on a sort of auto-pilot to get through each day/hour/week. some point, the numbness starts to wear off.
And apparently....6 months is pretty key to this.

(And yes...I realize that "6 months" or "183ish days" are nothing but man-made numbers....but God DID give us these numbers (and hence the time frames) for some reason!)

So I was thinking about when I first came out of my house and was trying to find out if the neighbors were ok.

One of my dearest friends lives lived on the street behind me, and I remember as we walked that way, asking people if they had seen her family.  I could see where the top of her house has been....and I knew they had been hit.  But I wasn't screaming or panicking....just asking.  Then someone said they had seen both her and her husband and that her family was ok.  Then we went on to check on other neighbors. I was remembering this story...i had a stab of bitter cold sickening fear slice through my stomach.  It literally made me gasp.  My shoulder and neck muscles tightened to the point of pain......then it all went away.

I think.....that was the fear I wanted to feel that night.  That was the true abject huge fear that something horrible had happened to my friend and/or her family when I saw their house.

Going to church yesterday Ethan was talking about the windstorm we'd had the night before and said how glad he was it didn't turn into a tornado.


Then he looked at me and said, "I am really glad I didn't die in that tornado, Mom,"  and started talking about the cardboard swirling past Uncle Frank's truck that night and when his head (and elbow??) were bleeding from the stupid stop sign that smashed through the back window. stomach clenched up.  Tears came.  My upper body tensed to the point of spasm.....and it stopped.

Again...I think that was some of the fear I should have felt that night.

May 22nd was NOT the time to feel or deal with that fear....there were too many things to DO.

So that some of the numbness is wearing off....and we (as a city?) are stabilizing and recreating our sense of home....God is allowing our minds to let go of some of the feelings they have been holding in all of those boxes for the last 6 months.

It's probably a good thing to open those and let the feelings and memories out.
I am reasonably sure my brain doesn't have enough storage space for all of that anyway.

As long as I (we?) remember that each and everyone of those boxes is wrapped in IMMENSE GRATEFULNESS.....

Then one-by-one God can help me empty them.....
Break the boxes down....
And get rid of them.

But...I think I'd like to save the wrapping paper.

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