It is also the night after. The night after ghastly winds ripped apart the small community I've lived in my entire life. The night after homes were tossed on top of automobiles. The night after ancient trees were ripped from the ground and flipped carelessly across fields. The night after men and women died. It is a night not to be forgotten.
It is also the night I rocked a sweet, innocent infant while her mother showered. It is the night I talked to a man who spent the day picking through the rubble of where his home once stood. It is the night I talked to a former student who is now a volunteer with the Red Cross after he spent the day working in the hardest hit areas. It is the night where hours have been spent stocking endless supplies for those in need. It is a night where the faintest glimmer of hope can be seen.
As I stopped at the shelter on the way home to see what was needed, a father and two young daughters were walking in, too. I don't know if they were helping or seeking help, but that's neither here nor there. The youngest girl looked at me as I was getting my key out of the ignition, and her eyes locked on mine. Then, a smile spread and her hand waved to me. A stranger. No one she knew. A simple wave from a child who may not even have a home left.
We will wake again tomorrow and begin the process again. Assessments will begin taking place, and people will start piecing together their lives as best as they can at this point. Funerals will be planned. Fundraisers will be planned. Such is the way in my small southern town.
I will not forget anytime soon the sounds that rushed over my home last night or the spectacular lightning I witnessed. What I will also not forget is the smell of sweet babies who are blissfully unaware of the tragedy they survived or the haggard looks of the volunteers who'd been up for almost two days. And I most certainly will remember the wave of a child, who, without saying a word, reminded me there is always a reason for hope.