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

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Here It Comes....

I don't believe much in anniversaries.

Not that I don't believe they exist....that would be a little silly.
It's just that I've never put much stock in the self-made importance that people pour into a certain amount of time passing after an event.

(Now I DO love birthdays....which I realize are an "anniversary" of the day of birth and all...but I look at those more as an excuse to celebrate a person.  Am I talking out of two sides of my mouth?  Possibly.  But it's my mouth.)

Ask RH.
We're married.
We were married last year.
We'll be married next year.
We'll be married forever....and the "year amount" might be a good excuse for an adult-only vacation....but the amount of years doesn't truly matter unless it's the diamond anniversary and then RH better flippin' remember.

The point I am trying to come to in my rambling is that while I have never been much of an "anniversary gal"....
I simply can't avoid this particular anniversary.
This particular "memorial".

May 22nd is right around the corner.
Even if you didn't have a calender or an iphone or an ipad or a clue you couldn't claim "ignorance" on the date.
There are ads and information and counseling offers and tributes in all of the newspapers and tv stations and billboards and signs stuck on pickets in yards.

And then there was the Joplin Memorial Run yesterday.

While it was a good race....well organized, well attended and well wasn't what I had personally expected.
I had thought that I would have a good ol' cathartic cry at the beginning when they released the 161 balloons and called for 161 seconds of silence.....but unfortunately I was too busy totally panicking trying to find my running partner to give into any emotions.
I had thought that I would have a hard time not crying when we ran past my old neighborhood and the other tornado devastated areas....but I was too busy avoiding various splots of road kill and trying to keep up with my psychotic we can make it in under two hours running partner while going up the longest hill ever.
I had thought that after the run I would (literally and metaphorically) wipe off the reside from the tornado, close the steel reinforced door on the past year and move into the next year as a gi-normous "redo" with fresh expectations and views.

Then I saw my mom after we finished and she told me she cried when the men carrying flags ran by.

And I teared up.

Then I saw a picture of a friend of mine's cat on someone's shirt.  My friend found her cat after it had been buried in the debris of her house, and the shirt said: "I survived being buried under the rubble for 16 can run 13.1 miles!"

And I teared up.

Then this morning as I was getting dressed for church I picked out a white skirt.
Then I realized I wore that same white skirt the first (and second and third) time we went to church after the tornado because it had been in my "lost" luggage and was the only skirt I had left.

And I wore a new sundress instead.

And I went out to lunch with my mom and step-mom and they began talking about where they were when they heard about the tornado and what went through their minds.....and for the first time in months (and I meant MONTHS) I started shaking.

That same all-over-body-shaking I experienced the first few months after the tornado.
My mom thought I was chilly.
I let her think that.

Then someone pointed out that my dad and step mom were leaving to go back to Atlanta on May 22nd....just like last year.

Who cares?
It's just another day?

And no.

Then I got on facebook.
It may not be May 22nd...but it is the "same Sunday" (thank you leap year!) that it was last year...and
People are remembering.
People are emotional.
People are re-creating in their minds exactly what was happening one year ago.

Most of the posts are full of gratefulness.
Many are full of memories.
Some speak of the fear that still lingers.
Quite a few of them address the changes that are still hard to adapt to.
Many mention the difficulties that still exist in dealing with the event.

Yeah....I get all of those emotions.

I finished my "additional living expenses" report for insurance today.
Basically it's a compilation of expenses incurred during our "homeless period" directly after the tornado.
Part of it included itemizing receipts (which I somehow miraculously had) of food, supplies, and meals eaten out of the house during that time.
As I copied a receipt from Johnny Carino's on May 28th I had a total memory flashback of that afternoon with my brother and my parents.

We left my house because I just couldn't take it anymore....and went to see what had happened to the rest of the town.
We drove past the high school to see it for ourselves for the first time.
I remember how raw and horrible and sick I felt.
I remember when we reached the other end of town and my brother and father said they were starving and pulled into the restaurant and I thought I was going to throw up.
I remember pretending to eat a wedge salad (and there it was on the receipt) so my dad wouldn't yell at me....while sitting in the restaurant in my sister-in--law's dirty workout shorts drinking wine (because there was still a boil order on water and I couldn't get diet coke)....and Barrett meeting us to tell us that our insurance company had officially "totaled"our house.
I remember RH and my parents and brother being happy about that because it was "better" for us insurance-wise....and having to go to the bathroom because I was crying so hard.
I remember my dad telling the waiter to just ignore me as I continued to cry all the way through lunch....

This vivid memory came back from a receipt.
A stupid little piece of crumpled paper.
A piece of paper with the ability to make my stomach churn and my eyes well up.

What's going to happen on Tuesday?
What's going to happen at 5:40 when I remember how scarily empty my arms felt when I couldn't put them around my son and nephew as trees began flying?
What's going to happen at 5:41 when I remember how loudly my ears popped?
What's going to happen at 5:42 when I remember holding my arms over my son and godson and his sister in my basement and hearing the world rip apart around me?

Well...there are two possibilities.

One:  I lose it.
Just lose it.

Two:  I am overcome with pure and extreme thankfulness.  Complete gratefulness to God for hearing and answering prayers that day....for my family and for so so so so many others.

I suspect it will be more of the latter....with a healthy dose of the former thrown in.

It will be a day of many tissues.
A day of holding my family close.
A day of reading Psalm 116 over and over again.

I'm looking forward to May 23rd.
I want to "close the door".....and keep moving forward.
I don't want to "re-live" and "re-remember" all of this....because it is still so very raw.

Other truth?
I want to remember.
I don't want to forget.
This event has changed me, shaped me, helped refine me... and I want to hold it close enough that I can reach out and grab a memory that helps me keep my priorities where God wants them to be.

So I'm a little mixed up on this.
That's par for the course.

But listening to the people around me....I'd say I'm not the only person who is (eagerly or dreadfully) anticipating this anniversary.

We're all experiencing something new..... this whole year has been a year of "firsts" after the storm.
And this is the "first" memorial.

We'll see how it goes.

If you catch me crying....just pass the tissues please.
But I'd prefer to avoid the wedge salad.


Gina said...

This is really beautiful, Shannon. Thanks for sharing so honestly. I'll be thinking of you and Joplin tomorrow.

Tate Danaher said...

Wow! You made me feel as if I was there, living through it with you. I love you, my dear old friend, and was so relieved when I received your call a few days later. Joplin will be in my thoughts and prayers tomorrow on this bittersweet anniversary. xoxo