For the last few days my emotions have been all over the place. Joy, fear, exhilaration, terror, happiness, sadness, relief, gratitude, has bounced around like a ping-pong ball on the new table we gave the grandkids for Christmas.
Why all these emotions?
In the midst of enjoying an amazing holiday, filled with grandkids, good food, gifts that left me stunned at the generosity of my family, and emailing ideas to the illustrator for a new project, tornadoes ripped through our area.
Two of our children were driving through the storm, two children with two grandkids were at their home a few miles away.
Here at our house, Phil, myself, three grandkids and one dog huddled in a closet as tornado sirens wailed in the night.
After the all clear, we left the closet, relieved the tornado had passed over our house and thrilled to receive texts that everyone else was safe.
Next morning, we watched the news stunned at the devastation. According to the weather service an EF4 tornado — which is the second-most powerful with winds over 200 mph — struck Rowlett, Texas, just minutes from where I live. Relief and sadness flooded me as I watched the news reports.
9 tornados, 11 dead!
Still If felt a distance from the destruction until I received a reply from my earlier email.
Ashley Bauer, the artist who illustrated my first children’s book Tryouts for Ben and is collaborating with me on my newest project lives in Rowlett.
Evacuated from her apartment, Ashley apologized because the illustrations might be delayed. Displaced from her home in the midst of the second deadliest storm in Texas history, she’s worried about my little book! Wow! I assured her that should be way down on her priority list at the moment.
The storm cloud that held that enormous tornado passed over my little town, and dropped from the sky hitting Ashley’s apartment complex. She explained her building was not destroyed, but the building next to hers along with the management office was destroyed. I believe she used the word flattened.
I’ve had a stomach ache ever since I received her email. I’m so glad she’s and her family are safe.
The tornado came so close to us. The enormity of our escape hit me. There but for the grace of God, luck of the Irish, a toss of the coin, luck of the draw, or whichever ideology you subscribe I realize my family was very fortunate. But as relieved and grateful as I am for us, I’m also saddened for the loss suffered by my neighbors.
Time to finish gathering things for the donation drive. The families effected need everything. And then I’m going to go hug my kids!
So when you ring in the New Year, remember the families who need good things to happen and let’s wish them all the best that 2016 can bring.