I swore to myself that I would not write about this photo.
I don’t know why I decided to write about it. Maybe, because it is the one year anniversary of the event that will forever be remembered. That is, remembered by those of us who live in West Liberty, KY and Morgan County.
Maybe, because it is still experiencing a grief of some sort that needs to be brought to the forefront every now and then to be dealt with, and by typing these words, it is akin to lying on the therapy couch. Maybe it is the expression of thanks to those many who came to our rescue and later our aid and service. Maybe it is an observance of the people of this community accepting their fate. With one breath followed by another, one step followed by another, one sunrise and sunset followed by another, they have persevered with dignity and grace…but each, to a person, saying how difficult it has been.
I wish I could say that I have handled it well, but that would be a great falsehood. I have not handled this past year very well at all. I have had this nagging underlying feeling in my consciousness, like mold in the damp basement of my soul.
For a whole year I have had a strange feeling of something that is not just right, aside from the obvious of changing routines and seeing the physical scars left on the face of our town as if we went through the windshield of Mother Nature’s pickup.
I think it is guilt, not the “doing something wrong” kind of guilt. It is the guilt of seeing people you love and care about going through a terrible experience and somehow you escaped the worst part of the ordeal. It is the guilt of wishing you were stronger. It is the guilt of wishing you did more to help others in their plight.
I am not asking for forgiveness.
I am merely pointing out the way I have felt for the year since I took this photo standing in my neighbor’s front yard. I really didn’t know I was taking a picture of a tornado, because I thought, like everyone else, that this can’t be a tornado in the hills of eastern Kentucky. It wasn’t until that night, sitting in the darkness, exhausted that I decided to look at the photos taken about one minute before this tornado ravaged downtown West Liberty. I then realized what I had seen through my lens.
There were many who suffered much and lost much. There were many who were very heroic. There were many who looked after others and took in others. Most did so without wanting anything in return or expecting anything in return, true altruism.
I just want to say that I am sorry for the lives of those who were lost…they were very good people and will be greatly missed. I am sorry for those who lost homes and were displaced. I was fortunate to be able to stay in my home throughout the whole ordeal. I am sorry for those who lost businesses and their livelihood. I want to thank God for giving me comfort even though it was a hard year.
On this one-year anniversary, I am happy to say that West Liberty is being slowly rebuilt. We have had good leadership from our officials who were given a horrendous task to deal with and they have come through because they care about the people.
Maybe others have had the same feelings I have had. Just know that you are not alone and we will get through this together. Just look back and see how far we have come in one year.
If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.