May 20, 2013
The first I knew that something horrible had happened came from friends on Facebook. “Praying for the people in Oklahoma.” Shortly thereafter, “We are Okay but friends and co-workers have lost homes.” Then another and another. I turned on CNN and learned that a terrible, powerful, monster of a tornado had struck Moore, Oklahoma. It isn’t their first and we will learn soon if it is the worst. An F-5.
This is personal. This is home. My Wife grew up only a few miles South of Moore in Norman. I know this region because it’s where I was lovingly accepted into a family that became my family. Some of them live there still: My Brother-in Law, his wife and their three children.
I tried to call them. “Your call cannot be completed at this time.” I tried again, thinking that I’d get lucky. I would not. I heard the same message. That’s when they snuck up on me: old emotions, tucked safely beneath plenty of layers of love, hope and great life and yet ready to surface, I learned, at exactly such a moment as this. Just a machine-spoken message but one that I had heard years earlier when trying to call my parents in Texas from Oklahoma City after receiving reports of a terrible storm—an F5— that had torn through my hometown. Technology then wasn’t like it is today. No cell phones, internet, instant messaging or 24-hour news cycle.
“Your call cannot be completed…” Helpless. So, tonight, I shed new tears out of old wounds. I relived an experience of 34 years ago. The only option then was to drive 150 miles south with no means of learning the fate of my parents and sister until I turned onto their street and parked.
Tonight, as in 1979, too many people died. Tonight, as in 1979, my family is safe. And I cry. Again.