"Don't worry about that. Just hurry!" Mike spoke a bit more urgently than normal. We were under a tornado watch, and I knew the storm was headed our way.
My mom, sister-in-law,Ang, and I had just left Painting with a Twist, where we'd spent the last few hours together for my mom's birthday creating our "masterpieces" to hang in our homes.
The session ran an extra hour over the predicted time, so we ran out in a hurry and stopped at my house to get my car. With the storm headed our way, we didn't know if we should seek safety inside my house or head out to my brother's house to join the rest of the family. Apparently the radar showed his home to be in a safer location, so I hopped in my car and followed my mom and Ang there as quickly as possible.
It was already dark, so I just prayed the whole way there. "Just get us there safely, God."
I got stuck a bit behind them, which made me get to my brother's house last. The tornado sirens went off all around us even there. My sister-in-law cleared out a closet for us to seek shelter, but we never actually did. We all sat around the table eating dinner while the tornado touched down a few minutes away from my own house, completely destroying about everything within its four mile path.
After we ate, I saw the news all over Facebook.
So many homes destroyed, some completely leveled. Pets missing. People finding lost, scared animals all over the place. Cars were picked up and tossed over the overpass onto the road below, some a mangled mess.
An old co-worker posted that the tornado hit and destroyed her house, but she was okay. We didn't hear from her again after that for two days.
Photos from Fox4News
Nothing like a huge tornado ripping through your town on the day after Christmas to put life back into proper perspective. Suddenly people stopped posting Christmas pics with all their new toys and instead started asking, "Are you okay? Was your house hit? How can I help?"
I woke up the next morning with a deeper sense of gratitude. Grateful for a home to wake up in. Grateful my dogs and cats were safe and secure at home rather than roaming around scared and lost on a cold, rainy day. Grateful for warm clothes and a warm fire in the fireplace. Grateful for my family's presence and safety. Grateful for all of the belongings that I take for granted.
Most of all, grateful for life. I read today about the victims who lost their lives when the tornado lifted their cars from the overpass. A few of them were on the phone while unknowingly driving into the eye of the storm. One of them heard the words, "Just hurry!"
Just like I did when I left my house to drive to my brother's house, knowing a tornado approached, yet not knowing exactly where.
It could have been me.
My heart hurts for the family of the one who heard the words, "Just hurry!", but didn't ever make it home.