It’s 7:00am in the morning, 9 year old Annalisa is dressed and ready for school. Daddy had left the house at about 5:00am for an early shift at the factory. He is working a 12 hour shift today from 6am-6pm. The commute to the factory only takes about 30 minutes, but being a supervisor, daddy has to be there earlier. Oh..how hard Daddy has worked over the years to get us to where we are now. He has worked long hours to provide us with a beautiful home, 2 cars, clothes in our wardrobe, food on our table and the countless perks of middle class living.
This all changed on Monday May 20th 2013, a day that is forever burnt into my memory. As I drop Annalisa in school, she kisses me goodbye and advises me not to get into too much trouble, silly little girl. I get in the car and drive to the nearby shopping center to buy some supplies for the house. A few minutes into my shopping experience, I hear the city sirens go off. I start to rush back to my car but was restrained by one of the store guard. “Get into the basement ma’am” he demanded, pointing to the direction all the shoppers present were going. I obliged, praying under my breath for the safety of all – especially for Annalisa.
It seemed like ages but we were finally asked to come out of the basement. Words can’t describe what we saw. Destruction like we have never seen before. The store and its merchandize was completely gone. My heart began to race as I thought of Annalisa. The parking lot was full of debris, and I could not find my car amidst the carnage. Unfettered, I began the 3 mile trek to the Elementary school to find my Annalisa. I became even more worried as I saw teachers, many of them bloodied, walking out with the students. It wasn’t long until I spotted Annalisa with her favorite teacher. I ran to her, picked her up and cried. We were both shaking.
“Mommy, I’m scarred” she said, and I held her even tighter. A neighbor offered to give us a ride home, I accepted. Seeing the devastation meted to our neighborhood as we got closer made me realize out little house may not make it. Reaching home, my worst fears were confirmed. Out little home had been smothered by the tornado. Years of toiling to save up for the down payment, pictures, priceless documents, memories too numerous to count, were all GONE. I cried as the scripture I had just read last night came to full focus:
Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. – Proverbs 23:5
My momma used to say, “Where there is life there is hope”. My husband is alive, my daughter is alive, I am alive. That is much to be thankful for. We miss our little home, all the things we’ve toiled to build over the years. But we are thankful for each other, we are thankful for this community, for this country. Our rebuilding efforts start now. It won’t be easy but we are thankful we can at least start. Pray for us as we rebuild. #PrayForOklahoma