Three years is an amazingly long time.
Yet there are times…
…when it's quiet at night
…when I look for a building that's no longer there
…when I smell leaking gas
…when multiple helicopters fly overhead
…when I hug one of my kids
…when I see a program about our town on the Weather Channel
…when tornado sirens scream to life
that it doesn't seem like all that much time has passed.
Not every time that these things occur….but sometimes.
Ones that catch me off guard.
And memories (visions, smells, sounds) shatter their way into the foremost part of my mind with a force that still takes me aback.
I don't know. Maybe.
Isn't "flashback" just a word for a strong memory?
3 years later,
we-- as city, a community, a family,
have certainly come a really really long way.
Obstacles have been overcome,
Anniversaries have been …well…survived if not celebrated,
And our city has been mostly (not yet completely) restored to a better than original state.
In three months the new high school should be opening, and President Obama will be back to oversee the festivities.
I think this is his 3rd trip here. RH and I went and heard him speak the first time, and my eldest went to hear him at the first Joplin High School graduation the year after the storm.
((Who'd of thunk we'd be on such close terms with the supreme chief executive????))
While things have grown and settled and been restored and repaired….make no mistake.
The memory of that time is still quite fresh here.
The impact it had on our town….both good and bad….is immeasurable.
Lots of people still define their life timelines with "before the tornado" and "after the tornado".
Restore Joplin signs and t-shirts and bumper stickers are visible daily.
New buildings are still popping up…and empty deserted lots with concrete stairs leading nowhere are right beside them.
This city is moving forward….but we aren't moving away from May 22, 2011.
We can't put it behind us.
We won't forget.
We will remember:
…the way the world rallied around us
…how criminals and police worked side by side to save lives
…when strangers took strangers into their homes and hearts
…how houses were completely gone except for one small area that sheltered and saved a family
…what miracles looked like
…the importance of white butterflies
…how it felt to have a stranger walk up and hug you and give you bottled water
…the smell of "tornado puke"
…when thousands of people came to our town to show us we were not alone.
And we will also remember the hard things.
The bad things.
The things that we maybe don't enjoy revisiting…but can't always help it.
But that's ok….because those things help us remember how it felt to be utterly and completely helpless.
Because for me….that was the time I fully realized how very dependent I was on God….and how very able He was to provide.
"Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you."
Memories, articles, pictures….they are all ways we can remind ourselves of God's goodness and faithfulness. They are our mini- high-tech altars that cause us to stop and recognize the things that God brought us through.
So….here are my memories.
I've linked them to other stories and such….just click on the colored words if you want to visit them too.
And as time continues to pass I will remember that God is the same today as He was then,
and the same as He was a thousand years ago, and the same He will be next week and next year.
He is enough.
And while I might not understand how three years can be so long and so short all at the same time…
And that's enough for me.
----Here's my story of that day and night….It took me over a year to be able to read it myself without shaking.
----My daughter was with my sister-in-law….and her story is still a little hard for me to read.
-----When we were finally able to leave our neighborhood, I remember my brother-in-law gasping when we saw what had happened to the hospital. The story of what happened inside St. John's hospital is unbelievable.
----These are the pictures from that night. I had my camera with me because we had been celebrating Bennett's birthday.
-----Out of the MANY bizarre experiences… knocking down my own home had to be one of the most surreal.
----Re-reading this post makes me so grateful that we are so much farther away from 2011…but helps me remember that there is an explanation as to why I have gaping holes in my memory.
---Videos like this one and this one can still make me tear up…and I can't even watch this one the whole way through.
-----Some memories such as these and these just come back at random times….and I have to remind myself that they actually DID really happen.
--And in this post I actually said that I was recording things so that in THREE YEARS I wouldn't forget them.
---There are songs like this one and definitely this one that still make my knees tremble with thankfulness.
I will use this little list of links when I need a dose of perspective…or a reminder of why I tear up at weird and random times. I will use it to remind myself of how blessed I am…and to help me remember how strong I can be. Feel free to peek or not…and add whatever ones you think are important too.
Thanks for being here….