Thursday, May 31, 2012

More of that horrible night...

My mind raced and was at a stand-still at the same time.  I was trying to figure out what to do but couldn’t really figure it out because I still couldn’t comprehend what was going on.  So many thoughts…pull up your skirt, what just happened, “Twister” was a bunch of crap, Caleb is next to me-he’s shivering-pull him close, why isn’t Chuck responding to me, what is going to happen to us…I was shocked.  I couldn’t put all the pieces together.  What the heck was happening? 
The noise of the tornado was insane.  I was literally shouting at the top of my lungs and no one was responding to me.  Perhaps they were in shock.  I’ve seen videos from the tornado and the survivors are covering their ears.  It was LOUD.  It was screaming, throbbing, howling, deep, full, chugging.  There were sounds of wood cracking—trees, houses, light poles, telephone poles.  Like when you snap a twig but deeper and magnified. 
It was so dark until the lightening started flashing.  It lit up that total darkness—but I didn’t recognize anything around me.  Where was my house?  Where was I?  What was happening? 
Then I saw Ian.  His face blank, diaper barely holding on, he was pale, he wasn’t moving.  Oh my God, he is hurt so badly.  I saw him just lying across some bricks, I think he was on bricks.  He was cut open so deeply.  The yellow of fat, the red of muscle, the pink of his skin; a bum shouldn’t look like that.  I yelled to Chuck, “Ian is hurt.”  Chuck then uttered the only words he spoke TO me the entire tornado.  He said, “Grab him.”  I had grabbed some blankets on the way down the stairs.  I made myself move and scooped up my son.  It hurt like hell.  I felt my hip slipping in and out of the socket.  I didn’t really care.  I needed to get Ian.  He is so special.  He has been close to death a few times in his life.  He is too innocent, he is too delayed and too delicate to go through this.  Why?  Why Ian?  I didn’t know if he was alive or dead when I grabbed him.  He looked dead.  I wrapped him in a Strawberry Shortcake blanket my mom had made for me when I was a baby.  He wasn’t speaking.  He wasn’t looking in my eyes.  He wasn’t doing anything.  I kissed him and could tell he was alive.  I told him he was going to be okay.  I really believed we would be okay.  Ian had to be okay.  God, let Ian be okay.  I also thought to myself, “Did I adopt him for THIS?”  How could God let this happen to Ian?  How could THIS be the plan?  Was Ian going to die here?  I honestly thought that I would rather have left him in Ohio to another adoptive family than to have him die like this.  I love that boy so much.  He deserved so much better than this. 
Another flash of lightening and I saw Maggie and Bear…trapped.  The house was on them.  Oh my God, what am I doing to do?  My kids, they can’t move, they are screaming.  Screaming.  Screaming.  Screaming.  Chuck, the kids are trapped.  Why isn’t Chuck responding?  Why isn’t he helping?  Is he hurt?  Why isn’t he helping?  I am alone.  I’m doing this alone.  I’m on my own.  I always knew I’d end up alone.  What if I am the only one who lives?  Oh my God.  Maggie.  Bear.  Ian.  Oh my God.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Today was a good day...One year ago today, not so much

We survived. We made it a whole year and today we laughed, we connected, we played, we celebrated life. 

One year ago at this time (9:48pm) I was just arriving at the hospital, a sheriff zipping me through back roads. I had left 3 of my kids with neighbors I had only met that night. I didn't know where my 2 injured kids were and if my husband ever made it to the hospital. I didn't know if my 20-week-gestation baby was alive after part of my house fell on me and broke my pelvis. I was "put" in a back room in the maternity ward. I was low-priority that night and I understood that, but I was so scared. All I could see when I closed my eyes was the face of my trapped daughter screaming to me, "Help me, Mommy, I am dying!" I wanted to see her face again. I wanted to see her smile and laugh. I wanted THAT image in my mind. 

That was the lowest part of that night. There were other experiences that were awful--having to hoist myself up to relieve myself in a bed pan and have the nurse not notice (or care) that it was spilling all over the bed and me not being able to feel my battered back side to know my bed was wet. That was pretty bad. Seeing ds3 for the first time since my neighbors helped me out of where our furnace had bee...he was trapped and screaming the last time I saw him and he screamed nearly non-stop in the hospital. When he saw me he broke and cried hard but once he was laid on me he was asleep within a minute. That was rough. Seeing ds2 regress into his disability after his injuries, that was tough. But nothing was as dark as being in that room, alone, dirty, scared, hurting, moderately ignored, not able to move and FIND my family and take care of them. 

But today was a good day. I am so happy to be alive. I am so happy my kids are alive. I am so happy that dear husband and I are still married (tomorrow is our 13th anniversary). I am so happy that my baby lived. I LOVE my house. I LOVE my chickens and my garden. I LOVE the sunshine we had today. 

Today was a very good day. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Another part of the story...

Here is part 2 (of how many parts?  Not sure yet but more than 2.)

We were pulled about 8 feet to the furnace space.  It was so horrific-ly surreal.  I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that we were being pulled into a tornado.  I couldn’t think straight.  My head was swirling.  I couldn’t even make a “plan” for what I would do because I couldn’t understand what was happening.  How could we be in a tornado?

Prewitt says that the sound of the wind pulling at the garage door sounded like a hundred girls screaming.  It happened so quickly.  It was dark, we were squatting down, the house started shaking, the windows blew out, then, the house was gone…all in a matter of seconds. 

I thought I was going to die.  When we started to go with the tornado, I thought I was going to die.  Then we fell down.  Chuck fell back, Caleb and I fell forward.  Prewitt had a supernatural experience that is his 
story to tell.  Before we fell there was a series of lightening flashes that made seeing the destruction/chaos possible.  In that series I saw Prewitt get sucked away.  He was wearing a green Upward basketball jersey.  I saw him get sucked away feet first, yelling, I couldn’t get him.  I had no time to react to get him.  He was gone.  My heart broke.  My boy was gone.  What just happened?!?!?!?!?  Then we fell.  I fell forward, dropped Caleb with the force of the fall.  The top half of me (from the waist up) was dangling down into the furnace space and the back half of me was still on the concrete pad for the garage.  It jerked me hard.  Should I stay still until it is over or should I try to fall in?  I couldn’t see anything.  I didn’t know where I was.  I didn’t know what to do.  Someone, please tell me what to do! 

Then something fell on me, pushing the breath out of me, flattening my middle.  I felt my pelvis snap.  My right hip felt loose right away.  I knew it was broken.  No one believed me after.  Why doesn’t anyone believe me?  I was trapped.  Whatever landed on me was sitting on me, pushing on me, terrifying me.  Thoughts popped into my mind, “Oh my God, I am trapped!”, “This is my worst nightmare!”, “I’m going to die!”, “No, I’m not!  Kick!  Kick!  Kick!!”  Those thoughts seemed to happen all at once.  I’ve never experienced thoughts like that.  I kicked and kicked—my right leg felt like it was barely staying in the socket.  I couldn’t die that way.  I couldn’t.  God told me to kick, so I kicked.  I fell.  I think I fell on Caleb.  He was shivering, naked.  My skirt came down when I shimmied into the hole.  I remember thinking, “Pull up your skirt.  You can’t be bare bummed in a tornado.”  What a weird thought.  I felt Chuck and started to yell at him, “WHERE’S PREWITT!!!!” over and over and over again.  Chuck just stared, like he didn’t see me.  He was saying Jesus over and over again.  Prewitt was gone.  How could I live with my boy gone?  Then I hear him.  “Mom, I’m over here!”  He was there!!!  He was in the hole with us.  My heart was so full of joy.  My boy was alive.  I needed to pull myself together and find my other kids.  I couldn’t move though.   

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The volunteers are back!

They're back!  They're back!  The volunteers are back!

As we drive through town the kids and I excitedly shout out the license plates of cars driven from far-away states.  College students, high school groups, the occasional retired couple, all here to help rebuild Joplin.  Wonderful does not even begin to describe the joy, the gratitude, the sigh of relief it is to see these souls giving up their time and energy to help us.

Joplin was such a mess.  Just hours after the tornado touched down, the middle third of the city was unrecognizable.  I remember, as my neighbor's son tried (unsuccessfully) to get me and my 3 uninjured kids to the hospital, that the town looked like a war zone.  Like we might as well have been in Kosovo.  I mean, what else could have caused such "unnatural" destruction but a violent bomb attack? Two weeks later, as we drove to our rental house on the far northwest side of Joplin, the debris had morphed with subsequent rain storms from war zone to dump.  The kind of dump you see in Mexico, India, or Ethiopia. There were pieces of life but it was not a friendly or livable environment.  There was such a disharmony between the splintered wood from homes like mine which were picked up, thrown, and scattered, the pink of home insulation, the steel from bent and upturned cars and and the shards of glass that sparkled in the sunlight.  The trees were (and still are) sad.  Those still standing were mangled, missing bark, and oddly leaning northeast.

Despite the unlivable land, the life force of Joplin became stronger.  But, it wasn't on our own that we gained forward motion; it was the life of the volunteers that gave Joplin back its mojo!  They came from all over the country, even from other parts of the world!  Some of the volunteers who helped my family hailed from England, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Florida.  They used their vacation hours from a job where they work hard, packed their cars/church vans/got on the plane, brought their kids, put on a breathing mask and rubber gloves and happily completed dirty, difficult, repetitive tasks.  They listened to our traumatic stories, they hugged us, they helped us find the right size shoes for our kids when we couldn't bend over because of a pregnant belly and a broken pelvis (oh, wait, that might have been just me but you get the idea).  The helped us stock our cupboards again with food donated from amazing companies like Newman's Own (and MANY more), they helped us load our cars with bottled water and cleaning supplies and toilet paper.  They picked through the wood and metal and glass and fiberglass and nails and junk to find any piece of our old life like a photo from our wedding or an almost whole piece of our favorite Royal Copenhagen Mother's Day collective plate or one of our kid's favorite toys.  They provided meals and prayers and health care and human touch and kindness to us when many of us couldn't keep our thoughts straight.

But, they had regular lives to which they had to return.  Toward the end of summer the volunteer rush had quieted to a trickle.  The big-wig volunteer relief organizations like The Red Cross and Samaritan's Purse loaded up their giant buses and headed out of town.  I remember one day in late August I was driving toward the highway and passed a massive convoy of military vehicles leaving Joplin.  That was scary.  I thought to myself, "I guess we must be doing fairly well if we don't need them any more."  I felt excited and nervous for Joplin at the same time.  Taking that first step without support is terrifying, but once you realize you can move forward, even if at a snail's pace, you want to do it on your own.

Joplin has been moving forward.  I read that 50% of the properties (business and residential) that were destroyed have applied for new building permits.  I can drive through the destruction zone and see that is true.  But Joplin still has so much work to do.  I am thrilled the volunteers are coming back.  I am glad to be able to take THEM water, give THEM a hug, and tell THEM that we will be all right.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The stuff...

Every once in a while I find myself amused when I think of all the STUFF the tornado took from us.  Of course, there are the big items--the cars (my minivan and my hubby's Civic we bought our first month of marriage 12 years earlier), the furniture we purchased to fill our first house, the SWEET refrigerator we had bought just 2.5 weeks before the tornado; and the sentimental items--the clock my great grandmother and grandfather hand-crafted and painted for me when I was born, the artwork I commissioned from my talented cousin, the painting of my own sweet baby bum painted by my great grandmother, the love letters my husband and I wrote when courting cross-country, the clothes (and positive pregnancy tests) I had saved from each one of my children's infancy.  Then there were the practical things like my MASSIVE collection of cook books and herbs/spices, all the baby gear from the previous 5 kids saved for the final one yet to be born, all the hand-me-down clothes from big brother (I had 5 big tubs of NICE Gymboree clothes saved for the little boys), all my home schooling materials, and so, so, so, so much more.

There are things I find I'm missing that make me laugh.  Items I don't use every day.  For example, Valentine's Day was approaching a few weeks ago and I thought about gettin' a little sexy for the hubby....oh, wait, I don't own any lingerie any more.  Thanks again, Tornado!  Or my daughters and I took a trip to Kansas City for a beauty pageant and the hotel had a pool.  I was excited to go swimming in the winter but wait...I don't own a swim suit any more.  And you know how you amass a collection of clothes that "work" postpartum?  Mine were sucked away into the vortex (which meant postpartum shopping--YUCK)!

The loss of our stuff wasn't too traumatic.  I mean, having it all gone at once left us gob-smacked, but we weren't so attached to it all that we mourned deeply the loss of it all.  I do feel chagrined about the loss of heirlooms like the clock and painting and the fact that I can't share my husband's love letters with my children when they are grown and starting to date.  I feel guilty that since my parents' divorce I was the holder of all videos and pictures from my childhood.  My brothers won't get to share pictures of themselves as cute, freckled 5-year-old boys with their kids because I held onto them and the tornado took them.

But stuff is just stuff.  It is wood, cotton, polymer, nails, bolts, zip-ties, and glue.  I have the memories, I have my children alive and mostly whole.  My husband is still next to me and lives his love letters every day to me.  We bought new stuff--cause you need stuff to go on living in the USA--and if it all gets taken away again, then we'll still be okay.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The reworking of Melly

I am a fairly driven person.  I like to go farther, faster, sooner.  I like to try new things, learn new skills, feel new "highs."  I wouldn't describe myself as competitive, as I could care less if I finish first; I just want to start something new and conquer it.

Knitting, DONE!
Triathlon-ing, DONE!
Half Marathon-ing, DONE-TWICE!
Moving across the country...5 times, DONE!
Birthing without medical intervention and even at home, DONE!  

Sitting still is not something I do well.  Resting is not really my thing.  Being "weak" is crazy-making for me.  So, when I found myself with a broken pelvis at 20-weeks pregnant after part of the house fell on me during the tornado, I felt like I was a contestant on "Survivor"...a bawdy housewife dropped on some weird island with no recognizable survival skills and only a stretchy bandana for a top.  How could I be Melly when confined to a bed?  Who the heck was I without the ability to DO?

I am still confronting that question.  I thought that after my sweet baby was born (via c-section due to my now deformed pelvis) I would bounce back to conquering shape, ready to run, ready to race, ready to let the world know the strength and passion of Melly. Wowzah was I mistaken.  My body is so jacked up now.  My belly is floppy and weak; my legs are now different lengths and as a result my gait is wonky, which makes my right knee, hip and foot ache every night; and nearly every muscle atrophied while I was on bed rest.  I feel doughy and weak and wobbly, physically and mentally.

I've always valued my physical strength and now it is a fraction of what it was before.  So, I am working to figure out who I am at the heart of me.  I am brave, I am creative, I am funny, and I have great hair.  But how will all of that translate into how I live my life absent of the challenges I am used to placing in front of myself?  I know that this is a season and I know it has value and will make me a "better" woman but it super sucks.  I don't like the uncertainty of not knowing what my body will be capable of once healing is complete.  I don't like that I will be reminded of that stinkin' tornado every time I see the scar on my belly or feel the ache in my hip or foot.

But I don't like the idea of being kept down and out...I will rework Mama.  I'll find new paths of success that will challenge and thrill me without taxing my jacked-up body.  I'll recover. I will.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tuesdays are the pits

Yesterday I found myself emotionally frazzled.  I couldn't mentally organize myself, kept snapping at the kids, and eventually ended up making excuses to sneak off and cry secretly in the bathroom, in the car, in the laundry room...

At the end of the day I was praying, asking God to show me what was wrong with me.  I don't like living in such a fragile place.  I am a tough chick; I DON'T sneak off to cry.  That's just not me.

I was complaining to God about how much running around I had to do on Tuesdays--take Ian to his special needs preschool at 8:30am, take Bear and Caleb to their church preschool at 9am, go work out at a local park (I run a trail with Ellie in the jogger while Prewitt and Maggie play in sight of me the whole time), pick up the younger 2 boys at 1pm, run errands across town, get Maggie to art class at 3:45pm and then pick her up at 5:15pm and take Prewitt to wrestling practice at 6pm.  Sigh, Tuesday is crazy at our house.  Then I realized that every one of those events required a trip into the tornado zone.  I drive through the desolate, broken, trauma-ridden landscape of the tornado path up to 8 or 9 times on Tuesdays.

I noticed last week when I drove a "new" way through the tornado path that my hands were moist, I was scratching my fingernails against my leg, and my breathing was rapid and uneasy.  There was destruction I had not seen and my mind reeled to process it all.  Every wounded skeleton of a home, every partially standing building, every tree missing its bark and most of its limbs, every bent street sign, every bit of random debris in the trees (jackets, insulation, sheets, metal from garage doors, etc.) was a story of fear, of trauma, maybe of death.

Sometimes, when driving through the destruction zone I get flashes of that night.  The odd, disconcerting mix of hail falling on me while lightening flashed without pause...the look on Maggie's face as she screamed she was dying and seeing her body trapped and twisted and thinking she was going to die...yelling to Chuck and him not responding (he blacked out for part of the storm) and thinking I had to save all the kids on my own...Maggie's face again...

So, yeah. Tuesdays are the pits.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tornado season 2012 already?!?!?!?

January 23, 2012...tornadoes damaged homes and killed 2 people in Alabama.

I'm so not ready for this tornado season.

A 16-year-old girl died this morning.

My children could have died...perhaps I will never know how close they really were to death, but it seemed that they were just inches (literal inches) from being crushed.  Maggie and Bear were trapped under the house debris.  Ian's lower half was cut to the bone in 2 places, Prewitt has his own story to share as God leads him but I know Prewitt's life to have been saved by God (I know because I saw with my physical eyes what he experienced).

I will never be able to erase the images of my children trapped and so deeply wounded.  Flashes of lightening revealed their bodies intermingled with the broken wood and brick of our home.  Chuck said that with one flash of lightening he saw lots of limbs and thought our kids were in pieces.  I'll never forget Maggie locking eyes with me as she gasped for breath and said over and over again, "Mommy, I'm dying.  Mommy, help me."  I'll never forget the blood dripping from Bear's head into Maggie's matted hair.  I'll never forget the blank stare of shock on Ian's face as I scooped him up and wrapped him in the Strawberry Shortcake blanket my mom made for me when I was a babe.  I'll never forget not being able to get up because my pelvis was broken.  I couldn't help them with my body.

I have never prayed harder and with purer faith than in that storm...and never have I felt God's strength and felt His direction more powerfully than in that storm.  I'll never forget what happened to my children...I'll never forget how God showed Himself to me and spared me from the agony the family in Alabama is experiencing now.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

First half of the story...

Here is the first half of our story.  I will eventually finish the other half but I am finding the writing down of our story to be overwhelming.  Literally, my heart races, my hands sweat, I sometimes feel dizzy, I feel like I can still feel the wind and debris cutting at my face and exposed arms as it steals my breath at the same time, I can smell the mixture of wet dirt, fiberglass insulation, broken tree limbs (and trunks), my children's blood...yeah, it is too much to bear sometimes.

Neverthless, here is the unedited first half of our story...

May 22, 2011

Our family: Chuck (39 years), Melody (32 years), Prewitt (8.5 years), Maggie (6.75 years), Ian (3.5 years), Bear (newly 3 years), Caleb (just about 2.5 years), and unborn baby

Our family had made the decision in August 2010 to move closer to family.  Prewitt had broken his arm and although I happened to have a friend over at the time of the fall and break, I felt very alone because there was no one to call to help at the “drop of a hat.”  We decided it was best for our little family to move closer to Chuck’s parents who live in Bella Vista, Arkansas.  In December Chuck submitted his resume for a job I found on-line for a Division Controller in Quapaw, Oklahoma.  This job was not too far from his parents and was a great career move for him.  He told me, “I’m going to get that job.”  And he did.  He and Prewitt moved down to his parents’ house at the beginning of March for Chuck to start the job and start searching out areas for us to live.  The plan was for me and the other 4 kids to join them once a new home was purchased (and hopefully our Ohio home sold…it is still for sale at the time of this writing).  That process took longer than expected.  Nevertheless, we happily settled on Joplin as our new destination (about a 20 minute drive for Chuck to work…there is pretty much nothing around Quapaw) and we moved into our new home on 2801 S. Winfield around the first of May. 

The house was not our dream house, but it worked for our family.  It had about 3300 sq. feet, a pool, enough bedrooms for our growing brood, a nice kitchen, and a fenced yard.  It did need a good bit of updating and correcting of do-it-yourself-gone-bad projects but we were ready to settle down and make this our “forever home.”  We LOVED that pool!!!  The weather was still fluctuating between the occasional hot day, moderate days with cold nights, and some chilly days.  We were absolutely oblivious to the fact that that combination of weather is what makes April and May prime tornado season. 

On May 22, 2011 we were set to have a great day.  Chuck and I had gone out to dinner the night before as an early 12th anniversary celebration (our anniversary is on the 23rd) and were feeling quite lovey-dovey all that day, too.  We tried out our first Joplin church that morning—church “shopping” is WAY difficult with 5 children, especially when the majority of the children are as young as ours are—and grilled out and swam afterwards.  I was able to take a nap in the afternoon with the little boys; it was a great day. 

A little before 5pm the wind started to pick up a bit.  It didn’t seem odd because every day had been really windy and we had seen some crazy rain storms in the past few days.  The two neighbor girls who had befriended us seemed freaked out and left quickly to get home.  I started to clean up the pool toys and put away toddler riding toys just in case we would have a bad storm.  Around 5:15pm the tornado siren sounded.  Chuck and I looked at each other and I think I even said, “What does that mean?”  We went outside to look at the sky—sunny, a few clouds, but not really stormy looking.  We decided that it probably was best to hunker down inside for the night.  **I must note that we did NOT have internet or cable at the time.  The local cable company was scheduling to re-lay the cable line because the previous owners of our home let it be cut when they installed the pool.  We had no media by which to look at the weather forecast and hear the warnings being sent.** 

Maggie put on a movie for her, Prewitt and Bear to watch, Ian was hanging out with Chuck, and Caleb was wandering around the house looking for me.  I went upstairs to the master bedroom to try to log onto my neighbor’s WIFI and email my Ohio girlfriends; incidentally, I had been planning on telling them how much I liked Joplin and how glad I was that we had moved down here. 

I was unable to log on and looked out the window to see if the wind was turning into a storm of some sort.  I looked down the street that ran perpendicular to and ended at our home and it was black, so black at the end of the street.  Normally, I would be able to see for a mile or so, I couldn’t see past a block and a half or so.  I looked out the window to the rear of our home and it was sunny and bright.  Then I noticed very loud cracking and the windows undulating, like they were struggling to breathe.  I called down to Chuck thinking that I needed him to tell me what was going on—it was too strange for me to put together.  Just as I called out his name I heard him yell, “CRAWL SPACE NOW!!!”  I was very confused and was at the top of the stairs calling Caleb who was in my room.  He wasn’t coming when I called so I ran back to get him—he was just staring out the window, pointing, he must have been confused and scared, too.  I grabbed him, he was naked due to the swimming earlier that hour and the fact that I was getting ready to bathe the little boys.  I grabbed a few blankets out of the linen closet; I kept thinking about my mother-in-law telling me to make sure everyone is clothed in a tornado because of all the debris flying around and all 3 of my boys were naked, naked, naked.  I bolted down the stairs, around the corner, and through the kitchen to the garage.  Really, it was all just a few seconds for me to get Caleb, the blankets and get to the garage where the mouth to the crawl space was.  By the time I was in the garage the lights were flickering and the sound of the storm was overwhelming us.  I remember kind of laughing to myself that this was happening after such a great day but I never once thought it was a tornado.  However, by the time I was in the garage with Chuck, Prewitt, and Caleb in my arms it was completely dark.  I mean, DARK.  If you’ve ever gone on a natural cave tour, there is usually a time in the tour that all the lights are turned off so you can experience “true” darkness, absolutely no natural light.  That was how dark our garage was.  I told Chuck I couldn’t see the opening of the crawl space.  He told me just to get down.  I held Caleb as tightly as I could and huddled down as close to the ground as I could squat.  Chuck was kind of hunched over me and I hate to remember that I had no idea where Prewitt was.  I assumed that Chuck was holding on to him, but apparently Prewitt was holding onto Chuck’s shirt and squatted next to him, but not being held by either of us.  Chuck told me that he felt God tell him NOT to get into the crawl space in the dark as the storm was on top of us.  Had we done that we could very well have been fatally injured as the house was picked up and the bottom floor slammed back down. 

A few seconds earlier Chuck had helped Maggie into the crawl space and kind of threw Ian and Bear in there.  Maggie has told me it was very dark and scary in the crawl space and that Ian was crying very loudly but that she told herself that she needed to be quiet and sit still to be safe.  Poor girl…such big thoughts to have to deal with at such a young age. 

**For those of you who don’t know what a crawl space is…it is a space between the earth and the floor of the home, usually 2-5 feet in depth.  You will find a crawl space in most homes with cinder block footings.  Ours was about 4 feet deep and was accessed through a 3’x5’ opening in the garage wall.  So, we would climb down into the space to seek shelter from any tornadoes.  Yeah, not the best situation to be in when facing and EF5 tornado.**

Pretty much as soon as we were hunched in a ball together the house started to lift away.  I couldn’t believe what was happening.  I felt us being pulled into the tornado.  You know that feeling when you are kind of free-falling on a roller coaster ride?  When you are at the very top of a big fall and you come up off your seat?  That is what I felt as we were being sucking into the tornado.  We were moving along our garage floor, just being vacuumed along.  All of the sudden we were falling down.  Chuck fell backwards, I fell forward with Caleb and landed top half down, and from my waist down I was still up in the garage, teetering on the edge of the garage foundation.  Apparently we fell down into the space previously occupied by the furnace. be continued

As I hobble along...

So...yeah, I was in a tornado.  To say it was a horrific experience is a sizable understatement.  Just 3 weeks after moving to Joplin, MO from Bowling Green, OH that screaming wall of black destruction stopped life as I knew it and started it again in what seemed like a different time-space continuum.  I am sure that I am the same Melly--I look the same (mostly), I laugh the same, I still burn cookies every time I bake them...but I feel different.  (Okay, I'm going to reveal my SciFi leanings...I'm not a dork because I like a little science fiction now and again...or so I keep telling myself).  I kind of feel like I am stuck in some sort of Battlestar Galactica/Star Trek (the newer one with Chris Pine)/Back to the Future hybrid kind of existence. Life feels familiar but just not quite "right."  So...yeah, I started this blog to document the resurrection of Melly (and Melly's kids, home, & general life).

Here are some AP photos of my family from the day of the tornado...the first is my daughter being carried by our neighbor (we hadn't even officially met him and his wife but they stepped up and helped with my kids in amazing ways), the second is my second-born son being carried by our neighbor (told you he was amazing), and the third is of me (in the blue) being helped by 2 neighbors (only one of whom I had met before the tornado)...