We are home.
Seven months after the Joplin tornado, my little family is at last sleeping under our own roof. The inside of our rebuilt house is different from before the storm – it’s newer, fresher, and a few days ago felt somewhat unfamiliar. But we’ve been back home now for three days. I see glitter on the table that was missed in the post-craft clean up, a doll half-dressed on the couch, Molly dressed like a knight and building a block tower, David’s book on the table with his sister’s Barbie shoe serving as a bookmark, and the fridge door filling up with the girls’ artistic masterpieces. Oh yes, this is home.
And it feels good.
You know that feeling after a long day at work when you come home and change into comfy clothes? Or that moment in between the kids’ bedtime and your bedtime when you sit down and put your feet up? Or when you fall asleep at night to the sound of rain on the roof? Or when a snow storm outside is accompanied with a fire in the fireplace and a warm cup of coffee inside? Or when you reach into your pocket and discover a long forgotten ten-dollar bill? Or when your loved ones who are on the road finally call to say that they’ve arrived safe and sound? Being home feels like that.
For me, this journey started with a drive across town right after the tornado finished its rampage. I weaved around flipped over cars, downed power lines, dazed pedestrians, toppled buildings, and people frantically searching, yelling, running to their loved ones. But, in that moment, I was focused on one thing.
I have to get home.
Not once during that drive did I worry about walls, carpets, or counters. Not once did I consider clothing, vehicles or electronics. I thought about Keith. I thought about Emily. I thought about Molly. I thought about them with such a sharp focus that it kept panic at bay. In those moments right after the tornado, I believed that if I kept picturing them, talking to them in my thoughts that I would find them unharmed.
And, for whatever reason, God covered our home during the storm. The roof blew away and the walls bent around them. But the walls held. Our home held.
For the past seven months, life has gone on. (Although, hopefully more thoughtfully, observantly, and compassionately.) But, for Keith and I, even in the midst of work, school, and the craziness of life with three kids we had the same focus I had on my drive the evening of May 22.
We need to get home.
And we’ve finally made it.
Today, I will fully appreciate what I have in my life. Today, we’re going to live fully inside these walls. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But today our life is going to be loud, messy, hilarious, and filled with imperfect love. Today we are home.