This week has been emotionally taxing for most of us who live in Oklahoma. Luckily for me and my family, the devastating storms on Monday died down outside of Tulsa and left us with heavy rains and scary winds. That, we could live through.
Still, we felt the loss. We all stopped our lives for a moment of silence and embraced our loved ones a little harder. We touched base with friends to make sure they were okay, reached out to those who were not okay and offered our support. We have several members of our SCBWI family in the Oklahoma City area, some who live right there in Moore. Although all made it through the storm, some have damaged houses and know people who were lost.
It wasn’t until yesterday that I ventured out in public. We were running out of everything and I couldn’t remain frozen inside afraid of watching the news coverage. Too many dead children. Too many sad stories. And yet everywhere I went, the conversations were all about the storm and people ready and willing to help. There were donation stations everywhere and volunteer sign ups, neighbors checking up on neighbors. That’s just what we do. I guess it’s the same all over.
We all feel so useless when something tragic happens. What else can we do but give bottled water, diapers, food, clothing, a shoulder to lean on? Help with picking up the pieces, clearing away the debris of lives scattered for miles. Next to this, money seems like such an innocuous thing to give to someone who’s lost everything, although I’m sure it helps. We all wish we could do more.
Life does return to normal faster for those of us not directly affected by tragedies, and I suppose it’s okay that it does. It doesn’t mean that we don’t care. It’s okay to laugh, to have fun, to live. Bad things will never stop happening.
My moment of normal happened while I was out running my errands. I popped into my local bakery to replenish our supply of sesame bagels and maybe snag a caffeinated beverage for myself. (I have a rewards card and my next one was free. We eat a LOT of bagels at my house.) I waited on the friendly barista to prepare my caffé mocha, and I noticed these lovely signs all around the restaurant with quotes from writers on them.
They were delightful. (Although, I wasn’t quite sure how old Walt would react to being the spokesperson for a reduced calorie smoothie). I was immediately inspired; I wanted to sit down in a booth and start writing. After all, writers and cafés seem to just go together. Where else can you write for hours on end, uninterrupted, surrounded by the the wonderful smell of coffee and the gentle hum of humanity? Those banners also reminded me that I should get back to work very soon. I hadn’t written a word since the storm. No more. Time to create!
I hope all of you have had a safe week. The skies are overcast, today. More rain. More storms. Brace yourselves; hug those loved ones, even if they squirm a bit.
And if you have been looking for ways to help out the victims of the May 19th tornado, here are a few options you might want to consider:
Kate Messner is hosting a KidLitCares for Oklahoma giveaway . There is a huge list of books to be given away and the list is still growing. Check out her site for details. All you have to do to qualify is donate at least $10 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Forward your donation receipt e-mail from the Red Cross to firstname.lastname@example.org and Kate will enter you into the contest. She will enter you in the contest once for every $10 you give. Enter by June 7th to qualify.
Fellow writer, Rebecca Weston, is offering a similar deal in exchange for a donation to a list of acceptable charities helping out with tornado relief efforts. Instead of books, she’s giving away query/first page critiques. Becca will be joined by a panel of writers who will help her field the critiques. All you have to do is e-mail her a copy of your donation receipt before Saturday and then you’ll get your first 250 words critiqued by a fabulous writer with critiquing experience for free! Everyone who donates will get a critique. Deadline is May 25th!