Your Neighbor Is Gone

Pleasant Grove, Alabama after April 27th, 2011

This is your neighborhood. The one you grew up in. The same cracked sidewalk, the same annoyingly long redlight, and the overpriced gas station on the corner.

This is your community - the place your mother and father planted your roots. Where you started school, got the mail, and bought your groceries.

This small town - big city - tiny community - was yours. 

Until the skies darkened one April afternoon. And the wind twisted and turned through the trees. Until a storm whipped through your life…. your house… your home. Until that happened - this city was home.

The difference from one day to another can often times blur.  It’s images like the one above that remind me, and should all, that this life is fleeting. The few things in your world that seem constant - like the last mile to your house that you could drive eyes closed - can be stripped away.

It takes about an hour (often less) to drive from my home in Birmingham, AL to Tuscaloosa which I once called my college home. In other words, it’s close. Very close.

On this day, a year ago, 253 lives were lost.

Two hundred and fifty three.


It could have been you. Me. The lady down the road. The basketball coach at your child’s school. The sweet old man that helps you with your groceries. The single nurse you see at Starbucks. Human lives were lost. Swept away from homes they built and the family they shared.

I don’t want this to be about Tuscaloosa. Or Pleasant Grove. Or just this storm. I want this to be about remembering the human element in this. The part that could have easily been you. It’s in that way we can honor those who sufferd, remember those who need us, and extend our hearts and souls and wallets and time the next time our skies darken.