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Sympathy for the Victims MAG
“May every gentle wind that blows bring peace and joy and happiness.” – a blessing
On May 20, 2013, the storm-prone state of Oklahoma was hit with a devastating EF5 tornado more than a mile wide. This natural disaster cut a path of destruction through the land, destroying buildings and killing 24 people. The tornado hit two schools – full of children – and left them almost empty.
Can you imagine the terror they must have felt? When the tornado hit, I was lounging in my bedroom, giving not the slightest thought to the victims. Did I know? Of course not. But could I have been watching the news instead of shallow sitcoms? Yes, of course.
When I arrived at school the next morning, the disaster had completely slipped my mind, the news half-digested by my tired brain and cast off into oblivion as I slept. I headed to choir as usual, taking the world around me for granted. But my normal life was shattered when my friend confided in tears that her nine-year-old cousin had been at one of the schools when the tornado hit, and now was nowhere to be found.
“May love and laughter light your days.” – a blessing
Have you ever experienced incredible grief, only to feel it turn into seething rage? As the voices of the choir rose around me, I felt a weight crash down onto my shoulders. I clutched my friend's hand and murmured, “Oh my God. Oh my God,” as if that would help somehow. The pain I felt was as if my lungs had been crushed. Not merely for my friend and her cousin, but for so many others who would never return home from those schools.
Why? I cried silently, feeling tears well up in my eyes. These children had their whole lives ahead of them – now they're gone. This is wrong. No, this is abominable.
I clutched her hand tighter and struggled not to cry, instead straightening my shoulders and forming a pillar of support for my friend, all the while wanting to scream at the naively optimistic song our choir was practicing. This isn't right! I wanted to yell. We should not be singing, we should be mourning! Do you know how many died last night? You are all so ignorant!
And that's when I realized, if my friend hadn't had a cousin in Oklahoma, or I hadn't come to choir that day, I wouldn't have even remembered the tragedy. I wouldn't have cared about the victims.
So here's the deal. When we hear about events like Pearl Harbor, or Columbine, or Newtown, we feel grief, sure, but as long as we are not personally affected, we eventually return to our everyday lives. But it doesn't matter if a tragedy occurs in Oklahoma, or Canada, or China, for crying out loud! The victims are human, and the loss of life affects us all. Whether your home is a shack in a New York alley or a utopian estate in England, you lost family.
I won't deny that for some that day was one of happiness. Babies were born, birthdays celebrated, achievements rejoiced, glory hallelujah! But the men, women, and children who lost their lives were as much my family as my blood relatives.
To the families touched by tragedies: I won't tell you to be strong. I won't tell you I'm sorry, either, because I'm sure you've heard all that before. I know that after the gravestones are erected and the flowers have wilted, you will find a way to go on. And I cannot possibly express my agony at your loss, however trite that might sound.
My friend's cousin is safe now, thanks to a miracle. I wish the same for you and your loved ones.
“May all the things you're wishing for and all your dreams come true.” – a blessing
Cedar Springs, MI