Friday, June 3, 2011

Laughter in Joplin Missouri

My husband, my son and I went to Joplin Missouri last weekend.  For those of you reading this from outside the United States, Joplin had a horrific tornado touch down. It was 13 miles long and so far over 130 people have been confirmed dead.  It is the worst, most deadly tornado the United States has had since the 1950's. 

Irregardless of some one's age, be it 9 months old or 65 years old the people that passed away are some one's children and we thought, we hoped we could be of some help to them. My husband and I both have survived tornadoes and lost a child and again felt we could offer some support there through our own experiences.

We left Omaha with over 130 Flowers on a Child's Grave, Now What? books in tow along with Captain Tag kid's books to hand out to little people who now have nothing.

We were not prepared for what we saw.  The devastation was unbelievable, anything you see on television doesn't even come close to the destruction.  Miles and miles without homes, only rubble left behind.  Hills were completely void of structures.  Metal was twisted into trees and along the roads.  Trash that was once some one's personal and priceless belongings were spread everywhere.  And all of this is just stuff--the physical loss of life was and is still mounting.

I know I titled this blog Laughter in Joplin and you must be wondering "Why?"----

Well, while we were at a funeral home donating books a father came in who's 49 year old son had died in the tornado.  His son was nicknamed Trip, he had downs syndrome and was 49 years old.  As the employee handed him a book from us he took me by my hand and walked me outside to meet his wife.  His wife began to tell me about Trip's life.  He had been in the Special Olympics and CNN did a story on him after he passed away.  Trip was a very loved member of Joplin.

As I spoke with the mother she began to tell me stories about Trip.  One specific story was of a time when the family was out of town in the middle of a wilderness area.  There weren't supposed to be any people around the area for miles, the family believed they were completely alone.  All of a sudden two young men popped up through some trees and said "Hello Trip!!"  The mom began to laugh as she told me this story, in the midst of all the rubble, in all the sadness and pain she was laughing.  She was enjoying memories of her son, the tornado could not wipe those away and she shared them with me.  I felt honored to hear her words.  Before she and her husband left I assured her that someone from Omaha would remember her son Trip, and now all of you can remember him as well.

We need to laugh, we need to tell our stories, we need to share memories of our child with people. It is important for us to let people know that our child not only died but lived as well!  Trip's mom needed to laugh and it was my pleasure and honor to laugh with her. 

Side note---We donated over 130 of my books to Joplin, to the three mortuaries, to the Red Cross and to the bookstore down there.  The bookstore has already asked for a second group of books to be sent to them-they are already out. I now have only about 10 books left and will be ordering some this week. If you would like to order a book, you can of course order it in e-book form at or may have to wait awhile for the new order to come in.  If you are local you can still get a book at The Bookworm bookstore in Countryside Village in Omaha. 

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