"I think your whole town has PTSD."
I agreed then that at that point....he was probably right.
However....we've come a loooooooooooooooooooong way.
We've eaten Shake's.
Last week-ish we had our first really big bout with severe weather since the tornado.
(Not counting that micro-burst that hit us the first morning we were in our new house and literally knocked me over on my screened in porch and messed up our new roof.....)
When the horrible storm hit Moore, Oklahoma
the images and stories hit awfully close to our Joplin hearts.
Then we saw the storm coming our way.
Then the sirens went off.
In fact....the sirens went off THREE times.
People scattered to their various shelters.
(and the the weirdly humorous and slightly self-deprecating comments
began flowing all over fb and texts:
"We are the mole-people!"
"I think we live in Meerkat Manor!"
"Dang...left my wine on the counter!")
And it was over without incident.
Then the anniversary of our May 22nd storm came along.
And again....we were basically ok.
There were memories.
There were fears.
There were tears.
There was mourning.
But we were ok.
(And to make this self-centered....
I was ok.
I was cautious.
I was prepared.
I had my little ducks all in a
I was prayed up.)
And we did it.
We made it through.
(Can you hear the slightly maniacal inflection in that laugh?)
Yesterday it was stormy again.
In fact it was supposed to be pretty darn stormy overnight too... and my eldest wanted to stay the night at a buddy's house.
I actually considered keeping him home....
but realized that was neurotic and crazy and pretty non-trusting of the Father that loves him a HECK of a lot more than I could.
So I checked with the other mom and made sure they had a safe room in a basement (they did)...and I dropped him off.
And my stomach was actually kinda twisted about that.
The other two wanted to eat at the mall and then do some shopping.
While we were eating the sky got really dark....and I got the "tornado watch" text from the local weather station.
I told the kids I didn't have "the right part of my wallet" (What?!?!?! That was a graceful sense-making--lie-under-pressure) and we needed to run home for a minute....and we left the mall right after eating.
I'm NOT neurotic.
I said, RIGHT???
for Ethan's saxophone lesson.
(Hooray again....neuroses conquered.)
It was a little rainy then, but nothing too bad....so we zipped over to the 15th St Walmart to grab a few groceries.
(Mind you.....this was the store that was smashed two years ago....where quite a few people lost their lives....where two of my friends and their sons survived but went through a terrifying experience that they had just shared with me last week.)
As we were shopping it began to rain REALLY hard.
I noticed a group of Walmart manager-types marching en masse down an aisle.
Then they marched back the other way.
Several times....not smiling....just purposefully marching somewhere.
We finally got to the check out....and it was raining so hard it was hard to hear people talking.
Our cashier was a young lady who looked at me nervously and said,
"Are you from Joplin?"
I knew exactly what she was asking.
"Yes. Are you?"
"Yeah. Were you here for the tornado?"
"Yes. We weren't at Walmart though....were you?"
"No. I was at my pastor's house. But it got hit. Demolished. Only thing left standing was the bathroom we were in...and that had a hole in the roof where we should have been pulled out."
"That 's really scary."
"Yeah. And see the mangers all marching back and forth now? Looking out the doors? They were doing this last week when all the sirens started going off."
"You were here? Where did you go?"
"There's a big shelter here now. We went back there. "
"That's good. That's safe."
"Yeah....I hate this. I can't even hear with this rain. I hate this."
I reminded her that God had kept her safe before...
And that there is a safe place in the store now....
And showed her on my phone how the radar showed the storm was passing....
And held her shaking hand.
And cell phones were ringing all around us...
And the man behind me was assuring someone loudly that "It's just rain!"....
And the managers kept marching quickly without smiles...
And the thunder rolled.....
And I smiled at my kids and told them we could run by Shakes on the way home.
(Hooray...I am the comforter and Shakes-provider and I neuroses conqueror.)
We stood at the door with our cart for a moment trying to decide if we should get wet or wait.
A Walmart employee
"I really don't want to be working here in this weather."
The rain poured but the thunder had stopped and the kids wanted to
go go go go go go.
I put them in front of me and opened our tiny useless umbrella and told them to hang on to the cart...
And out we went.
JUST AS SOON AS we shot out into the downpour my cell phone alarmed.
Not the gentle "You have a text" ding....
alert that you can hear above a pounding rainstorm and loudly laughing kids.
And I stopped in the middle of the slick crowded parking lot
and frantically searched through my now sopping-wet purse for my phone
because IF the alarm said a tornado had been sighted.....
I was going the heck back to that safe room with my babies.
"FLASH FLOOD WARNING"
And I shoved it back in my purse and kept running and tried not to throw up.
And as we tumbled into the car and threw the groceries all over the drenched seat I could feel my heart literally pounding faster than I could comprehend.
Was it because I didn't have Bennett too?
Was it because it was a genuinely scary situation?
Was it because the moon was in the 7th house and Jupiter aligned with Mars?????
I don't know.
But I know that after I slowly drove home (via Shake's and I didn't even get anything because my stomach hurt so badly) and parked the kids in front of
I needed to sit down, closed my eyes, and just breathe some deep shaky breaths for a few minutes.
Maybe there is possibly some PTSD involved.
But I guaran-dang-tee you it's not just me.
I read THIS ARTICLE in our newspaper that said the combination of events last week (Moore, our tornado anniversary, bad storms and sirens here) resulted in a larger group of residents requesting mental health assistance than has happened since the year (or so) after our tornado.
It also said that just because you are aware of the weather conditions and take precautions....
it doesn't mean you have some severe post-traumatic issue.
It just means you've learned your lesson.
Gratitude in place.
I was working on a blog post about how I thought the Moore, OK tornado affected Joplin.
My ideas included some things like:
--Because we've recently been thorough such an eerily similar situation....we are in the strange position of being able to anticipate what they will need right now and in the near future.
--Because of this, we are able to offer a special kind of help.
--This help is a true blessing TO US....because it helps us turn our focus to healing someone else instead of dwelling on what happened here.
While I think all of this is still true....today showed me that we, as a city, may still have some healing to do ourselves.
So....WHAT'S my point in writing this out?
I guess it's just this:
Be soft to people.
It's been two long years....but sometimes scars re-open.
People might still need to tell "their story".
And maybe buy them some Shake's.
Or a latte.
Because I heard those help.