I have no words.
The thought has crossed my mind over the past few days that I should update my blog. Ideas for posts have been swimming around, but I can’t seem to put them together into something meaningful. And somehow, posting about wasted food, or pictures of recipes, or general day to day events just seems meaningless and empty in light of the tragedy that so many of my friends are living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and around right now.
When the tsunami hit in 2005 I was shocked and sad. The hurricane in New Orleans made me sad, and the tsunami and earthquake in Japan upset me as well. Yet, for some reason, none of these things moved me to tears, or made me want to do anything I can to help. It’s not that I’m an uncaring person. Quite the opposite. But many states away, in my comfortable house, it’s easy to forget that there are many people suffering. Likewise, though I would give any amount of money I could do these causes, the truth is, we just can’t afford to give much. And since I believe that being a good steward also means being reasonable with your money and what you can donate, oftentimes I just continue on with my life, praying, thinking, and moving on a few weeks later.
I heard about the tornado sirens and bad weather approaching the Tuscaloosa area on Wednesday and pushed the news aside. There had been a lot of that going around lately, so I assumed it was another big storm where people would hide in their bathrooms, then come out and everything would be OK. I went to youth group as usual, and a small part of me regrets that I didn’t know at the time how bad the damage was, or we could have talked about it, and my girls could have prayed.
Anyway, as I was getting ready for bed I received an email and a text that both scared and alerted me to what was really going on. The email mentioned that there were already 15 confirmed dead in Tuscaloosa alone, and the text told me that a Taco Casa near my friend’s old apartment was gone. It was then that I realized this was bad.
To you, the tornado in Tuscaloosa may be another “Japan”, or another “Katrina”. It’s sad, tragic, but you’ll forget about it in a few weeks when something else big happens. For me, however, this hit home. It’s more than just seeing the pictures of places I shopped at and visited, a BBQ restaurant full of Alabama memorabilia that is completely gone, the Hobby Lobby my friend and I went to when she was visiting. That is shocking, yes. Strange and surreal, sure. But what hurts the most, what shakes me to the core are the stories. The people I know, or know of, who are in varying degrees of devastation. Some only lack water and electricity. Some have a tree through their roof, others have an unlivable apartment. Still others lost their homes completely. Many people I know are literally homeless, though thankfully a lot of people in less critical condition have opened up their homes.
I read these accounts and I cry. I cry for the people I know, for what could have happened but, thankfully, didn’t. For what could have been worse, but also for what is worse. I cry out of guilt for not being able to be there to help, and relief that I’m not there. I cry for the people, the pets and animals, for the state of the economy down there, already so depressed. I cry for the loss of the normal I knew when I lived there.
And here, in Seattle, that’s about all I can do. I can donate, I can pray, I can ask you to help too, but that’s about it. I feel so helpless and yet so relieved that I wasn’t there anymore. And then I feel guilty. And when I forget about this, when I’m moving on, and thinking about something else, or talking about shopping for large item purchases like patio furniture for the summer, I’m happy…until I remember. Then I feel guilty for moving on.
The need our help, and they will continue to need our help in the weeks and months to come. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s OK to think about other things, but I don’t want to forget about this, because living there? I can’t even imagine what it’s like. There’s no escape for them.
As a side note, will you consider donating in any way you can? The Red Cross is probably the best way to get money to the relief effort, or you could always donate blood. It is possible to designate your blood to Tuscaloosa. If you can’t or don’t want to donate in that way, then pray, pray, pray. Continually and often. They need our loving thoughts almost as much as financial support…maybe more.