I don't usually get caught up in the emotional throes of a tragedy. I feel bad for people and for circumstances, but they don't break my heart.
Till now. The Joplin tornado.
Joplin is a town I've been to many, many times. It was an hour away from where I grew up, so it was the "big city" that we visited when we needed something that the closer towns didn't have. My mother's cousin's daughter (I know, a thin stretch, but I grew up knowing her and her family very well since we went to the same church) works at the hospital that now isn't there. Thankfully she works nights, so she wasn't on shift when it hit. One of my high school classmates lives in Joplin and is currently housing some of her friends who did lose their homes. The amount of devastation is completely overwhelming. I keep staring at pictures, staring deep into them hoping for anything - any small iota - of the town I recognize. It hasn't happened yet. Simply... nothing.
I'm starting to see wish lists ("My sister-in-law's family lost everything. They are in need of 18 month old boys, 5 year old girls, women's 7/8 pants and medium shirts, and mens xl shirts. Of course, all of the other stuff that goes along with losing everything.") pop up on my friend's status messages on Facebook. Charities are pledging money ("Heart of Missouri United Way (Columbia, MO) has stepped up and established the Joplin Tornado Relief Fund. 100% of donations will go directly to Joplin United Way, with ZERO overhead. Follow the link, call 573-443-4523 or text "Joplin" to 864833 to donate $10").
Right now I haven't decided where or how I want to help. All I know is that I have to do SOMETHING. I can't lamely sit here on the sidelines and watch a town that I have known my entire life get wiped off the map. Simply can't do it.
I am not asking that you donate. I am not asking you to feel the pain that I am experiencing, because I know there have been so many disasters over the past few years and that many of you have experienced your own personal tragedies. Joplin is one small town in the middle of America that many people don't have a connection to. I just needed to empty my head and heart of the weight it's been carrying since I saw the news last night.
Thanks for reading. And if anyone more connected to the city than I is reading this, you have my deepest sympathy.