Coming home from work last night I knew there was something wrong when the normal weather and traffic was interrupted for a CBS Special Report. Who, I wondered, had died? Turns out many people, children included. Turns out for an Oklahoma community the world turned upside down in an instant. Literally.
The pictures, the video, the grand scope of the devastation is overwhelming and painful to watch. It must be even beyond that to actually experience. I watched a mother being interviewed as first responders scrambled through the leveled elementary school behind her. “Why does this happen?” she asked. She couldn’t find her sister or her niece. At that point in the evening six people were confirmed dead, two of them children.
Why does this happen? Who can understand when terrible things happen to people? How can we move forward when such terrible things happen so randomly. How can we ever feel safe? And what can we do to help those families in the throes of grief right now?
I went to bed feeling sad. I woke with a sense of dark, heavy dread. I knew by now the death toll would be more than six. This morning it is twenty-four, nine of them children. The heaviness settles deeper into my heart.
We’re expecting storms here this morning. Very soon. They sky is dark and heavy, reflecting the way I feel. I ask Katie to hurry outside so that we can beat the rain. The air is thick, the trees still. Waiting. Waiting. I keep an eye on the sky, Katie keeps her nose in the air. Things happen randomly. You never know. Bad things happen everywhere.
As I watch the sky two dark shapes swoop low. I am startled and then mesmerized. A pair of sand hill cranes flies overhead. Very very low, very slow, almost silent. Instead of their usual noisy screeching they are cooing gently to each other. I hold my breath and watch them. They disappear behind a line of trees across the street. Stunning.
You see? Amidst the fear and sadness and confusion there is beauty. And we rarely ask why. Why did these two magnificent birds choose to fly right over my head so early on such a sad morning? I don’t know. Maybe I don’t have to know why these thing happen. Maybe I just have to move ahead and live.
And send some money to the Red Cross… for Oklahoma.