Skip to main content

PIck myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again

As the media reeled this week with stories of disaster in Oklahoma, I was especially touched by a story I heard on NPR last Thursday.  The Phillips family knows what it is like to experience loss.  In 1999, they lost their home to another tornado that hit the Moore area.  They rebuilt two miles away only to see their home destroyed by this latest natural disaster. 


An aerial view of some of the Moore,
Oklahoma destruction. (Source)
The entire family is safe and sound. Nobody was hurt. Nobody died. But they have essentially lost everything.  A hall closet filled with linens seems to be the only structure that escaped the scene relatively unscathed.  As I listened to this family speak with cracking voices, you could hear that combination of resilience and sadness that inhabits those who grieve.  Rena Phillips told the NPR reporter, "I ran last time, I'm not running again," she says. "It's like why run? You know I still had a little fear, but God deals with it. He peels that onion layer off, little by little, and says, I need this.... So, yeah, we're not leaving."

I am sure Rena and Paul Phillips would gladly trade their situation for many others at this point but it is interesting how your experience can help you withstand future struggles.  As their friends and neighbors faced their own tragedies, many in shock, the Phillips family set to work clearing their land, preparing to rebuild again. Paul says, "You realize your favorite chair is gone or the favorite spot [where] you like to go is gone. That's when it gets hard." Those moments happen. The waves of grief fall upon you, sometimes threatening to drown.  Somewhere along the way, though, the storms subside and you are even more prepared for the storms that may come along in the future.  

I related so well to the Phillips' story.  When I went online to find the story and share it, I was interested in the comments that others made about their decision to "stay in one place" and start over.  Of the four comments, three stated that the family was better off running away. They thought the family should move, whether for practical reasons (insurance) or just because they thought it was "insanity" to live in a place where tragedy had struck in such a way.  One commenter, however, seemed to get it.  S/he wondered aloud, "If they left, where would they go? The entire New England, mid-Atlantic and gulf coast is already a place no one should live due to hurricanes. The entire mid-west is off limits due to tornadoes from Texas to the Canadian border and all points east. The plains are a drought wasteland and the mountain states are wildfire hell-scapes. The Pacific NW and California are earthquake and tsunami danger zones. The entire midsection is prone to huge killer snow and ice storms. So, where will all the people with good sense go to live? Oh yeah, to all the other SAFE places in America."

Truth be told, we cannot run away from our fears. Tragedy will find us, in one form or another. We can, however, realize that one of the few constants in our lives will be change.  We make preparations, we ride out the storm, assess the damage, and we start all over again. 

Popular posts from this blog

The Edge of Seventeen

It's that time of year when the blog musings center on my grief journey. Every year, it seems like we are busy with end-of-the-year school activities and the start of summer, planning vacations, and then (kablam)...it's almost July 9.  Grief is funny. Grief is weird. I remember very early after Charlotte died, I watched the movie Rabbit Hole.  There's an amazingly poignant scene where Nicole Kidman's character is talking with another woman who lost a child over 10 years before (played by Dianne Wiest). She talks about grief being like a brick in your pocket. It never goes away. Sometimes you can even forget it's there. But it comes back and makes its presence known from time to time. And (she says) "it's what you have of them."    I probably did not fully realize then what a powerful and true analogy that is. As time goes on, our grief changes. Yet, it is always there on the edge of things. It sits in that pocket and sometimes makes itself known.  This

The Stages of Grief: COVID Edition

It's 2020. It's almost Christmas. We're still in the middle of a pandemic. In fact, we are experiencing what appears to be an incredible surge that is exerting tremendous pressure on our healthcare and social service system. The headlines are clear: we're not done with this madness and December 31, 2020 will not magically be the "end of it".  Earlier in the year, our family thought about whether we might be able to travel at this time. We thought that maybe the curve would be flat enough that we could take a few days away from home during the Christmas holidays. We realized that the pandemic would still be happening, but with the right protections and with prolific mask usage, we could get a much-needed change of scenery. During what is now (clearly) a delusional thought process, we booked a stay in Gatlinburg, Tennessee for the week of December 19th. Spoiler alert: we canceled the trip almost two weeks ago.  Canceling this trip was not a tragedy. In fact, I

Bittersweet Sixteen

I think about Charlotte every single day. However, this time of year, I'm flooded with all kinds of memories as we commemorate the anniversary of her birth. This year feels like a bit of a milestone. Sixteen.  If cancer had not taken her life back in 2010, I have a feeling I would be planning a massive birthday celebration this year. 16 always feels like a landmark year in someone's life.  I have been thinking a great deal about the last birthday party we had for Charlotte in 2009. We didn't know it at the time, but we were halfway through her treatment journey. We had been through three major brain surgeries and a few rounds of inpatient chemotherapy. Treatments were not going well. In fact, right after her birthday, we would make the trip to Houston, Texas where we would settle in for about 10 weeks of proton beam radiation treatments and a new customized chemotherapy protocol. This was the unspoken "last chance option" to beat that aggressive brain tumor into