My husband and I traveled to Mayfield, Ky on Christmas Day, after an evening/overnight Xmas Eve visit with our daughter in Murray, Ky. We both felt we needed to bring some donations and support to the tornado survivors because the tornado had hit awfully “close to home,” being just 30 miles from our daughter’s little college town. I hadn’t looked online at photos, figured I’d see it when I got there and didn’t want to get myself super upset before riding into town to bring some love, hope, and warmth to the survivors. I had enlisted some family members in donating last minute as well, and we had filled my SUV with gently used coats, warm clothing, slippers, toilet paper, mandala coloring books, TTN stress squeezy hearts, and about 50 large stuffed animals. I had made a card of sorts on flip chart paper and decorated it with some inspirational things, and hand-signed messages from the donors.
The experience was both devastating/sobering and hopeful. “When there is tragedy, look for the helpers” was Mister Rogers’ saying. I said to myself, “look for the hope,” and by God, I found it amidst the ruins. It was in the resilient trees, in the volunteers spending their Xmas day helping others; it was in the beautiful blue sky and brightly shining sun that served as a backdrop for my photos; it was in the children who smiled big, toothy smiles when we showed them the stuffed animals, and it was in the pre-teen girl who picked out a big stuffed wolf , half the size of her body, and then hugged it over and over again like it was a long lost friend. And then as I turned down one block to see the memorials to all the lost loved ones, there it was “Hope” itself. Someone knew it was there too, but just in case others were too distracted or overwhelmed to see it, the Hope ambassador thought it prudent to put up a sign. My deepest respect to whomever this was, you are one of my people and you bring light to the darkness.
Please know that this natural disaster creates the type of tragedy that takes millions of dollars and years to rebuild from, and that’s just the physical aspect. If you’re able to give to the relief fund, it’s sorely needed. If you’re able to pray or volunteer or provide relief in some way, it’s sorely needed. The tribe needs you. They are survivors and they’re still standing, but that’s exhausting work admidst tragedy and they could use some folks to lean on. Elton John’s Still Standing in 2019 (although a bit wearier since the debut of that song in the ’80s, but aren’t we all a bit wearier these days??)
May your day be sprinkled with HOPE no matter what challenges may come!
Melissa Adamchik, KY Tribe Member & Executive Director of the Tristate Trauma Network