|The million dollar shot- the first thing I saw (at least, the pitch-black version) |
when I crossed the street from Cherry Grove at 7:15 pm on 2.5.8.
And it wasn't just the tornado. The entire week following was its own sort of experience. The day after the storm, no one was allowed back on campus, and even though I lived across the street, it was still horrifying. I had friends who lost everything. Or, at least, lived without their possessions for weeks. And the things that were returned to them were never the same. I still hear people say, "I had that shirt/camera/DVD/book, but it flew away."
Emily had framed a picture of us, which she was going to give to me for graduation, but it was assumed lost in the storm. Then, amazingly, she found it among her belongings in the big, black trash bag they returned to her, the wrapping paper rotted away. I keep it on display constantly, not only because I love Emily, but also because of what it symbolizes to me.
My Katie had just moved out of my apartment, because I was about to go back home, and she lost so much because of it. I still feel guilty about that. Not that there's any way I could have known, of course. I'll never forget the day she and I snuck past the caution tape and reached in through her kitchen window to save her tray from Tanzania, which the bag-n-taggers had overlooked. Oh yes, we did.
There are so many things tied up in this experience, I could devote an entire memoir to it. For instance, this was when my then-future-husband and I started talking. He heard about the tornado at Union on the radio... on BBC! BBC! And he wrote to me immediately. That was maybe the wildest part about it. Being in the news. People I knew were being interviewed on every major network, it seemed.
I was supposed to move back to Louisville that week, but couldn't. I stayed and helped. I sat in the library and was part of the call team, checking in with every single member of the student body. And when I did go home, I only stayed for four days before coming back again. I helped the Dean with the re-start of the semester (class had only been in session three days before the tornado). There's also an incredible bit in here about how Cedarville (where my husband went to school) secretly threw our Howdy Party for us.
Important note: Yes, Joshua went to Cedarville. But the party thing was as much a surprise to him as it was to me. But, still, what are the odds?