Shattered Dreams

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Joplin tornado that killed 161 people. Out of those 161, I have read that thirteen were children.  I know that at least one of those children was a senior in high school and on his way home from graduation. (The scenario below does not represent this victim’s story and is in no way factual of the events of May 22, 2011, in Joplin.)

Imagine being the proud parent of an 18 year old who has just graduated from high school. All of their hard work has gotten them to this point in life. All of your hard work has gotten them to this point in life. You have just watched your son or daughter walk across the stage to receive their diploma and you are smiling from ear to ear. It doesn’t get much better than this. You are high on life!

Then, out of nowhere, a tornado bears down on your town and takes the life of your child. Your child has died in the blink of an eye. Healthy and living one minute, in heaven the next. It doesn’t get much worse than this. You are at the lowest of lows.

Your life has changed forever in a matter of minutes. You went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. You cannot imagine anything worse and do not know how you are going to make it through the grief and despair.

Plans had been made. Dreams had been set. A future full of hope and promise had been laid ahead.

A graduation party was to happen in a few hours. A summer job at the neighborhood pool was in place. A family vacation was planned. College started in the fall. Buying furnishings for a dorm room and signing up for classes were a priority.

And these were only the plans, hopes and dreams for the next three months. All of these dreams have now been shattered. You will not see your child open graduation gifts. You will not see your child walk into their dorm room.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the feelings that the family of the high school senior who lost his life in the tornado felt, I’m sure.

 

It was 5 a.m. the morning of April 5, 2012. Rodger and I were on our way to the hospital. We were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our baby, excited to find out if this baby was a girl or a boy. Our due date was just a few days away and everyone was healthy. We checked into the birthing center and were at ease with everything that was going on. Since this was our third delivery, we knew what to expect and our excitement overshadowed any nervousness. It doesn’t get much better than this. We were high on life!

Our baby’s heart tones were within normal range all day, never going above or below the red lines. Then, out of nowhere, the heartbeat dropped. Within minutes, our baby was born into the arms of Jesus via emergency C-section. Our child died in the blink of an eye. Healthy and living one minute, in heaven the next. It doesn’t get much worse than this. We were at our lowest of lows.

Our lives were changed forever in a matter of minutes. We went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. We cannot imagine anything worse and do not know how we are going to make it through the grief and despair.

Plans had been made. Dreams had been set. A future full of hope and promise had been laid ahead.

The camera was ready to take pictures immediately following the birth. Names were picked out. Coming home outfits were in the diaper bag. A crib waited at home with sheets on the mattress. Car seats were in both cars. Baby clothes were washed and folded in the dresser. Big brothers made stuffed animals at Build-A-Bear for their baby brother or sister. Diapers had been bought. Making it home from the hospital for our baby’s first Easter.

And these were only the plans, hopes and dreams for the next 3 days. All of these dreams have now been shattered. We will not see Kyleigh come home in her pretty pink outfit. We will not see Kyleigh asleep in her crib. We will not see three car seats in the back of the cars. We don’t know what to do with the folded clothes or the stuffed animals or the diapers.

My heart breaks today for the families who lost loved ones, especially children, in the Joplin tornado. I pray that new dreams have been set for each of them and that we will one day set new dreams for our family, too.

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