I was thinking about those things today when I drove through an area hard hit by the devastating tornados in April of 2011.
Up on a ridge high above the Sipsey Fork of the Warrior River, where the storm scraped through the community, there were trees that were stripped of limb and leaf. After the storm, they looked like stone pillars jutting up from the clay.
But today as I drove through, those trees had leaves growing from their trunks. The tops of some of them looked like green Afro wigs.
Further up the hill as I drove through the community, I realized that many of the houses that were swept away in the wind have been rebuilt. The houses that weren’t totally destroyed have been repaired. Most of the houses have new roofs.
It occurred to me that Sipsey is a living metaphor for the phrase, “Life goes on.”
It’s hard to think about this age-old wisdom when you’re in the depths of despair.
Our nephew, John Michael Greathouse, died a few weeks ago at the age of 47. He wasn’t a child by any means. In fact, he has grown children, but to my sister-in-law Pat, he was the baby, the only boy, and the first child she’d ever lost.
My mom lost two of her five children before she died. I once heard her say at my baby brother Darrin’s funeral, “A mother is not supposed to lose a child.”
A friend I worked with at MaBell had a son riding along with three other teens in a convertible on Interstate 459 in Birmingham when a baseball cap blew off one of their heads.
The driver braked, pulled to the shoulder before shoving the car into reverse, and racing backwards to fetch the hat. He lost control and the car veered tail end first into the path of a FedEx truck killing all four instantly.
My friend’s life changed in that moment and it’s never been the same again.
Even after five years, he still struggles with the loss.
We invited him to come hear Jilda and me play at a local coffee shop recently, and he looked well. It did me good to see him smile. He’d be the first to tell you that life goes on.
My lovely wife is an inspiration because she knows about hard times too. Even after 18 monthly infusion treatments for a defective immune system, she’s more driven now than she’s ever been.
The treatments knock her for a loop for a few days each month, but afterwards she’s back at work helping others deal with their demons at a local drug and alcohol treatment center.
We’ve also played more singer/songwriter events than ever before in the past. “If not now, when?” she asks.
Sitting in that big green treatment chair each month among people with conditions much more grave than hers has given her (and me) a unique perspective.
Looking at those trees today was comforting. It reminded me that no matter how bad things get, life goes on.