Tornado Alley

The permanence is absolute and swift.

There’s a snap of the fingers and everything is forever changed and yet nothing seems to be different at all.

 

Am I going crazy?

 

You look around and everything is familiar and normal except someone is missing. It’s disorienting when people in your life disappear without warning. It’s as if one of the four directions on a compass has been eliminated and yet you’re expected to navigate just the same.

First comes the jarring-jolt that resounds throughout your entire body like a tuning fork when the news is delivered. Every time you close your eyes you catch a flash of their eyes or their smile as if your brain has a glitch and is trying to prove to you that they aren’t really gone. It’s shock, disbelief, absorption, breakdown, calmness and repeat, repeat, repeat.

 

Is this really happening? This can’t be happening because vibrant souls don’t just dissolve into thin air.

 

Then comes the sensation of physical illness, as if your body rejects the sad reality that came to find you on an otherwise completely normal day.

Every time we have yet another great loss within the fire community a pathway of destruction gets left behind just the same as if a tornado had ripped through a town.

 

Look to your left, look to your right, who else was hit by this?

 

Tornadoes have a seemingly haphazard pathway in that they will completely annihilate one house, rip the roof off another and then skirt right past the next, flinging off but one shingle.

The levels of impact vary widely, regardless; it’s nearly impossible to be completely unaffected. Even if your house was structurally sound after it passed, in the moment you were huddled in your basement listening to the windows rattle unsure of how things were going to turn out, just like everyone else. We hear that there was another fatality and we all hold our breath until we hear a name waiting to see if our world has just been turned upside down, just like everyone else.

How bad is the damage?

We are talking about one tornado blowing through our community, but our town sits right in tornado alley and before you can clean up the debris and rebuild from the last twister the sky goes black again with ominous doom as the next tornado crests the horizon. But…. We understood the realities of living in this community when we moved here. Or did we. Did we?

 

There’s nothing to be done now but brace for impact.

 

I want to stick my head in a hole, turn off my phone and avert my glance from that sorrowful look approaching me to deliver more bad news but none of those things will change the outcome. My house has missing siding and a blue tarp where the roof should be. I’m not ready for another tornado. I look to my left, I look to my right and I see a shit load of debris; my neighbors aren’t ready either.

I shake my head with disbelief and as I look up I see the next one cresting the horizon. I lock eyes with my neighbor and we both head for our basements.

 

Brace for impact…

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