It was a beautiful Midwest evening. Birds chirping, sun shining, and that perfect breeze that puts you right out. I decided it would be a good time to lay down for a nap and collect my thoughts. It had been a rough year for me and I was trying desperately to go out on my own to start my business. I had also been working with St. John’s Regional Medical Center and the surrounding clinics supporting one of the largest software changes they had ever seen. In short, I was tired. As soon as my head hit that pillow I was in Heaven. It was to be the perfect early evening nap.
I was awakened by a small tapping on my door. It was my father who told me we should be getting in the storm shelter. Well, this was odd. I don’t recall even a thought of rain. However, I followed him to the shelter to wait out the traditional midwestern spring welcome. Having lived in Missouri all my life tornados were as common as hot dogs at a ball game and only slightly more dangerous. So I took my time getting there. I will say, I started to get a strange feeling the closer I got to the shelter. My hair began to stand on end. I felt as though I were in one of those horror movies where you can feel the evil coming over a town. Suddenly, I wasn’t pokin’ around.
Looking out over our back pasture I could see the storm clouds moving in. I thought it was beautiful so I pulled out my phone to begin getting some video. In just a few moments I realized I was shooting something that would make things different after it rolled over my property. It was truly scary. Not scary in a “I don’t want to confront this sort of way”, It was scary in an apocolyptic evil sort of way. The cloud coming in filled the entire horizon with black. There were magnificent explosions of green and white. This is one time where ignorance truly was bliss, had I known those explosions were my town being leveled, I would have had an entirely different reaction. I knew now it was time to get in the shelter.
Inside the shelter the fear took over. I had sat in this shelter many times before and laughed waiting out tornados and such. This time wasn’t funny. We could hear it approach. As the storm passed over our property, it became angry. I don’t know if it was angry that we were underground or if it just had a chip on its shoulder, but it was trying desperately to pull our shelter out of the ground. The concrete box buried six feet under ground began to shake and wobble back and forth. We were underground! How was this happening? For fourty five minutes I sat cramped in that tomb like shelter.
Joplin firefighters stand at attention and observe a moment of silence on May 22nd, 2012 5:41 pm, 1 year after the deadly tornado destroyed 1/3rd of the town.
Cut to today. This post is not at all about what happened a year ago. It is about what is happening today. It is about how May 22nd, 2011 was the beginning of the rest of my life. One week later on May 30th I hopped on a plane to North Carolina to begin one of the best jobs I have had. I was doing the same thing I was doing in Joplin, except, this time I had a little more experience under my belt. I also found that I could use the stories of Joplin and the will to survive to help put doctors and nurses at ease. I am very proud of what I do for a living and how it is changing the face of healthcare for the world.
During this year I hae had the opportunity to polish my photography craft and move to a new level allowing me some opportunities I would never have had. SSR Designs and Seventh Seal Records are taxing down the runway getting ready for take off. Some things are about to change. I am about to introduce a brand new product line. I’m about to introduce several new websites. I am even working with some folks that will make things a lot easier. Things have just been falling into place this last year.
As I continue to move through the journey of this last year I take a lot of Joplin with me. I notice a couple of things the last chance I got to go back to Joplin. There is still a scar and a very open wound left by that day, however,
its healing. You can see trees beginning to sprout. The grass is adding some color to the rubble. People are out working. Most importantly, people are rebuilding. They are moving forward with their lives and refusing to let something so massive stand in their way. That whole spirit of Joplin has been an inspiration to me as I am moving forward. May 22nd 2011 was not the end…It was the beginning!