Anyway, yesterday a terrible tornado blew through our little town, destroying one hundred homes and killing some of our neighbors just a mile or so north of us. It was déjà vu at it’s worst.
Piedmont Tornado, May 24, 2011
Today, I took half the day off hoping to help in some way. I am so thankful to be able to say we found a way to help. We met a couple that has no family in the state and lost everything including most of their pets yesterday. They will be staying with us while they try to figure out how to walk the path before them. It won’t be easy for them, but I can say without a doubt, they will make it. I know because I did.
As this husband and wife drove through our gate for the first time, I immediately recognized the look on both of their faces. It was the same look Bob and I wore for weeks after May 3rd, 1999. It’s a mixture of shock and pain and disbelief. It’s a look I’ll never forget and yet I am thankful for that because that means I can understand it in others now. There was a time I would have begged to forget. I am grateful to remember now because I know there is a way through it all.
When they exited their car, Bob and I hugged them and cried with them. It’s such an interesting thing to meet strangers and yet have an immediate connection with them. Shared pain can be a strong bonding compound I suppose. We showed them the farm and held their hands as we walked and talked. They both cried and thanked us repeatedly for our hospitality. That’s when it hit me like a sledgehammer. They saw our offer of help as if it were some big act of kindness. But it wasn’t and isn’t. It is the beginning of healing for them and the tail end of healing for us. We are being given an incredible gift. One we never asked for and didn’t see coming. We are being given the gift of paying it forward, of doing for others what was done for us. The days ahead won’t be easy but they will be worth the journey. I'm absolutely sure of that.