I mentioned last month that all of the horrible things that had been going on in the world--namely the Boston Marathon bombings and the fertilizer factory explosion in Texas last month, and the Newtown shooting back in December--really made me appreciate all of our blessings and reminded me not to take any moment for granted. Yesterday a tornado hit just outside of Oklahoma City. The storm was particularly devastating because it scored a direct hit on two schools, pretty much completely destroying at least one. So far they're reporting twenty kids have died.
Newtown was horrific for so many reasons. It was such a random, senseless act. It involved very young children. It was so incredibly violent. Those parents sent their kids off to seemingly the safest place for them, and they ended up dead. Everything about it was simply shocking. But it was such an isolated, random occurrence. On one hand the randomness was comforting because you knew that the odds of it happening to you were slim...but on the other hand it was a reminder than random things can happen to anyone at any time.
Yesterday's tornado was equally devastating but yet so different. I want to say it was more relatable, if nothing else. While we don't get tornadoes too often around here, it's not impossible. Having something like that happen around here may be about the same odds as a gunman walking into the specific school that your kids attend, but I'd have to say that because it was a natural disaster, it feels a little more relatable because something else could happen that would involve destruction along those lines--a fire, explosion, or storm. It just seems more plausible than a gunman, you know? In addition, the damage there obviously went beyond the bounds of the school--the whole community was destroyed. It just makes you think about how you'd manage if you were in a situation like that. I think I'd fail miserably, by the way, but it makes you think long and hard nonetheless.
There are two things about this disaster that keep nagging at me. First, of course, is that those kids were at school when it happened. Again, you think of school as a safe place, and those kids ended up crushed under the very building in which they spent their days learning. As many other people have said, I hope it was quick and painless for them. To think that your child's last moments were scary and/or painful...ugh. As a parent it would pain me to know I couldn't be with my child and protect them during the scariest moment of their life. I also can't imagine the torture of being a parent who had to get to that school to find out the fate of their kids. I'm sure getting there was nearly impossible due to the damage, and then to get there and see how bad it really was...my heart breaks for those whose kids never emerged. I think about that a lot, that if something ever happened here, I'm all the way downtown while the kids are up in Greece. It's a 15-20 minute car ride on a regular day, and I can't imagine how awful it would be if I simply couldn't get there...or how long those 15-20 minutes would feel on a normal day if I had to get there fast for an isolated incident.
Less than two years ago there was a small fire in the boiler room of the church building where the kids' daycare is housed. It happened during naptime and Jacob still talks about it. He doesn't seem particularly traumatized, but that he remembers bothers me a bit. They basically all had to get up and out immediately, and they did. The fire didn't do any damage to the daycare (and I think any damage to the church was contained to that room), but upon hearing the story at the end of the day, I was definitely thankful that it was a minor incident and their evacuation plan worked well. Once in a while you hear about fires or intruders at daycares, and I can only imagine how awful it is for parents to make their way there not knowing the fate of their child. There are only so many teachers with so many arms and hands, you know? Heck, I think about my limited arms and hands when I'm home alone with the kids overnight. When it was just Jacob it seemed manageable, but now with two there's the thought of which one you go to first and how you'd get them both out if you had to.
The other thing that bothers me is how you function through a disaster like that with kids. I can only imagine the emotional scars the survivors will carry around from their experience in the school, but I'm sure some of them also no longer have a home to go back to. Their entire world has been destroyed. From a parent perspective it has to be so hard to function on a practical level. How do you make sure your family is fed and clothed? Where can you go so everyone can try to get some sleep? Where do you get diapers or formula? But on an emotional level, I can't even imagine. Knowing that everything is gone--every keepsake, every picture, every toy--I can't even imagine how you begin to give you or your kids any sense of stability and normalcy after that. I can only imagine the nightmares and separation anxiety they must deal with, or the cries because beloved toys are gone forever. It has to be so hard to explain to your child that your home just isn't there anymore. I just don't know how you ever convince them (and yourself) that things will be okay again.
I suppose it's that element that I relate to more than anything, because a house fire or some other random event (plenty of houses around here have been hit by vehicles, for example) could leave us in the same situation, minus the community in chaos. Jacob gets emotional about so many little details, so I can't even imagine how he'd react if his Legos were gone or he didn't have his million stuffed animals to cuddle. I can't begin to think of how we'd talk him down from that, since our nerves would be frayed as well. And now with a new baby, I know I would be crazy just trying to make sure we have what we need for him, just to make sure he stays healthy.
I just feel so badly for everyone that has been affected. I feel like I can't do much but pray, which doesn't feel like a lot. It's just so horrible, but hopefully God can work some big miracles for those folks...fast.