(Continued from Part 3)
I stared into the night. Most of my children were asleep. Some of the sweet, older girls with us held one here, helped another there. I felt very numb. I think I cried a few times, but not the sobbing kind…just quiet tears. I wish I had been more in tune with my children. I felt “far away”. We just kept doing the next thing, trying not to think about what we were going to do tomorrow.
The men were out, cutting trees from the inside out so emergency vehicles could get in.
Our friends and church family began calling Aaron’s cell phone. He told them, “There’s no way you can’t get in here. Don’t even try.”
Several hours into the night, maybe around 3 a.m., Jeff, a familiar face walked in. We couldn’t believe it. Friends and our church family had cut their way in and walked for miles on foot to reach us. Several others were at the Lees assisting them. I had asked several times, “Who is with Sherry?” I was so relieved when I knew women were with her.
All through the night people showed up bringing supplies–water, food, diapers, blankets–it was a really cool night and I remember how thankful I was for our friend who brought blankets and tenderly covered Avi who was shivering beside me.
There is something very humbling about being instantly destitute…that’s what we were. We had nothing at the moment. We were completely dependent on other people for everything…even our survival. And just when we needed other people the most, they were there, like an army rising up, to take care of us.
As dawn broke, the irony would parallel our lives at that moment…the welcomed light would brutally reveal what the night had hidden. Tears slipped down my face again…barely able to see out the windows for all the fallen trees, where I did look was unrecognizable. The breath-taking beauty of our whole valley demolished. Ugliness, complete loss of everything familiar that was home, and the deep sadness over our friend, Tom…there were emotions from every side.
And I feared to hear of more death. I knew we would.
We would soon learn that our next door neighbors all died except for a son who was at work. Kevin Isbell , who suffered the largest cluster of fatalities, would come home, climb his way in the darkness through the valley for four miles until he reached his home. There he found his wife, his daughter and his father dead. There were also four elderly people living with them (assisted living) who perished as well.
The neighbor where we pick blueberries every summer lost everything he had including his son and daughter-in-law who lived next door, leaving behind 3 injured teen-aged girls.
Thirteen people lost their lives in our neighborhood.
More people flooded in as soon as the roads were clear. Many friends, neighbors, even some out of state arrived by morning. It would have met the rising hope in my heart if The Hallelujah Chorus had started playing instantaneously when I walked outside that morning. It was like the Calvary coming in the valley from every direction and it didn’t stop.
The children and I went to an elder’s house that morning. The whole day was a whirlwind of phone calls, decisions and just taking care of basics like finding clothes for everybody. But the flood of encouragement–people showing up at the door with money or supplies, people calling to tell me about the funds on-line that had been set up–the Lord ministered to us so much in those first hours through the love of so many. It was like His arms around me whispering, “It’s going to be OK. I’m not surprised by this and I’m walking with you.”
A gracious friend of my parents has let us stay in his lake house. It is really small, around 1000 sq. ft., but it has a huge screened-in porch and a large, beautiful lake lot. We are learning a lot about bonding in a new way 😉 We are making plans to rebuild and hope to be in our home by Christmas.
I am working my way through the emotional roller coaster of postpartum days married with a life turned upside down.
It’s getting better. I have dealt with what felt like a “childhood stage” where I didn’t want my husband to leave and felt angry about it. I have tried to recapture some of our routine and schedule but it has been really hard to do in a place that isn’t home. I’m sure the acceptance of a “new normal” will come. In the meantime, I would covet your prayers for grace, strength and a serenity of spirit.
Below are some random photos of our “new life”.
Our temporary home–thank you Mr. Wilcut! The house is small, but cozy and serene. You are looking at the main area with two bedrooms and a bath on the right. I didn’t want to be in this picture…but it’s the only one we have this tidy 😉 I thought smaller spaces were easier to keep picked up…mmm, not so much.
We get to enjoy a beautiful lake lot. Such a balm to our eyes and souls on days we return from the scalped place where our home was.
Bria at her favorite place….the lake. Beauty in our surroundings is necessary to a woman’s soul. Much more than I ever dreamed until now.
Avi and Brooks
We don’t have a bath tub. But boy do we have a stock pile of Rubbermaid tubs that have come in handy more than a time or two 😉 Don’t worry, we DO have a shower, she just hasn’t learned to take one yet.
Preparing to roast marshmallows in the late evening.
Thank you for peeking into this, the journaling of our experience. There are many more things I could say, but will save for later. When all is said and done, we continue to praise God for His protection, his grace–showered even on those of our friends who have lost loved ones. And I thank Him for YOU. You have poured out your love in so many ways it is unfathomable. I thank Him for the love of Christ and the way that love exudes from His church, the Body. I thank Him for knowing my frame and my weaknesses and not holding that against me. I thank Him that we feel His presence the very most in the darkest of storms…that He never leaves us or forsakes us.
(Regarding the family picture that mistakenly ended up in the video twice…it is our last family picture in front of our home, Easter Sunday. Post-baby swelling–does this happen to anyone else? And Jax is not in a dress 😉 It’s his baptismal gown.)