Just one measly week and a day since many among us here in the Bluegrass State suffered a devastating loss. As one individual put it, "it took 60 some years to build this life and just about 45 seconds to wipe it away."
And wipe away, it did.
I had the opportunity to travel with a dear friend today, back to her hometown of West Liberty. She needed to go home ... to be with her family ... to see for herself the destruction. I was there to support her ... talk with her ... just be there.
I had seen the photos and news coverage. I had spent last Saturday looking at countless hours of still images and video. I wasn't prepared to see it in person.
The sheer magnitude ... the force of the storm ... there are parts of this town where there is nothing left ... wiped out. I wasn't prepared for that.
Hometowns are special places, you see. It may not be the best place on Earth ... in fact, it might be pretty darned depressing, but it's your hometown. Around just about every corner is a memory weaved into the fabric of the town, and to see it flattened ... well, it's beyond painful.
I said over and over again today ... tonight ... "there are no words .... no words to describe what I witnessed today. I've spent my entire professional life attempting to teach children how to write with descriptive language, and I have none to paint a photo of what I took in ... what I am struggling to process. None.
No. That's a lie. I do have words.
There were so many people working to clean up ... power lines were going up all over the place. Sandwiches and drinks were being passed out. Water was being passed around. Gloved volunteers milled about cleaning up piles of debris that were twisted beyond recognition. Uhauls and pick-up trucks and trailers and cars .... all lined up ready to take whatever people could salvage from their former lives as they began the task of rebuilding.
With all the physical causalities of this town, I was struck by the human resilience ... the pure strength that I saw on the faces of the survivors as they dug in and pulled pieces and parts of their lives from the rumble. There was a sense of hope.
HOPE ... such a small word, but such a big promise. Will everything go back exactly the way it was? Probably not. But the hope wrapped up in the promise of a new beginning? It was evident on the faces of many that I saw today ... there is hope of a new tomorrow. And that is the beauty of human resilience ...