DECEMBER 27, 2015 — Night before last, a tornado ripped through our small community. When I heard the sirens go off and the Emergency alarm beeping on my phone, I was filled with dread and fear. Though I live in Tornado Alley, I fear these beasts of raging wind and rain. Weather Map for the tornado path.
My youngest son and I huddled in the small closet underneath our stairs. While he was busy trying to get our big Murphy dog situated, along with the two poodles, I couldn’t help but remember what had happened four years ago.
In April of 2011, a massive tornado ripped its way through my community of Bessemer, ravaged it, claimed lives, and then moved into another small community named Concord, where my oldest son Matthew lived.
With his cellphone still working, he called.
“Mom, the house is gone. It’s gone,” he said, his voice completely without emotion.
“Are you hurt?” I asked him.
“It’s gone, Mom. Everything’s gone. I heard it coming, and I went into the closet. It was all I could think to do. Then I felt the wind and I held onto the doorknob. Then the roof flew off and everything just collapsed.”
Still, that lifeless voice spoke.
“The whole place. Nothing’s left.”
At the time, I thought he meant his home, but in reality, he meant the entire community.
“Matthew, I’ll come get you. Stay where you are. Matthew?”
“I’m here,” he said.
“Good. Stay there. I’ll come get you. Do you understand?”
“I hear something, Mama,” he said. “I’ll call you back.”
With that, he hung up.
The TV newscaster was on the scene there in Concord. She recounted the devastation, the homes destroyed, the people killed.
It was almost an hour later when I heard from Matthew. This is what he said.
“I heard something. I thought it was a kitten, so I walked across the way and saw a pile of limbs and logs. There was a house there earlier today. But there was nothing left except rubble. But I heard this kitten and wanted to find it. I didn’t want it to die. So, I climbed up on the pile of wood. The sound got louder. I could hear it crying. I got on my knees and started flinging all that debris out of the way. I tore up my hands but I didn’t care. I wanted to get it, so I kept digging to find it.”
He stopped for a minute, and I could hear him struggling to talk. I thought he might be crying.
“Matthew, honey, are you okay? Go ahead. Tell me.”
“Well, I kept slinging aside boards and trash, all sorts of debris, and then I heard the crying sound so loud I knew I was close. I squeezed my hand down into the hole I’d made. Then I managed to break off another board and put both my hands down. And then, I felt it. I grabbed hold as gently as I could and pulled it out.”
He stopped again.
“It wasn’t a kitten, Mom. It was a baby, a baby girl, only a few months old. I wrapped the little thing in my shirt and held onto her. Then I left and went to find help.”
By the time Matthew had saved the baby, workers from FEMA and The Red Cross were on the scene in Concord. They discovered the bodies of the baby girl’s parents later that day.
The tornado that ripped through Bessemer last night leveled three homes and killed eleven people. Still, I kept thinking about that tornado four years ago. It had destroyed the community, but my son was spared and by God’s grace, he saved a child.
Perhaps that is why he was spared. His purpose. His life’s work: to save the life of another of God’s children.
Joy Ross Davis is available as a speaker for your reading or book club or other group. If you should be located at a distance, a speaker phone or Skype call can be arranged.
If you didn’t get a copy of this article in your email, you may not be a member of Joy’s Angel Pack! It’s free and fun…take care of that today!