Every year, until the 10-year anniversary of the horrific tornado super outbreak on April 27, 2011, I wrote about those tornadoes and emotions tied to them, sometimes more than once a year. Today is a day I remember the 252 lives lost in Alabama, my home state.
Last year, I closed my laptop and ignored social media posts. I took a year off for my mental health and I felt good about it.
I also knew I was about to move to Pennsylvania where I (foolishly) thought I would not have to think about that day. It’s true that moving helped. I am a climate refugee who fled constant tornado fear and oppressive summer heat.
This year I skipped along my (now cooler) path and, even as I longed for Alabama humidity, I was elated when winter came and I wasn’t spending blocks of time in a basement. This happened as I welcomed 2023 as well. I thought about the many months in Alabama I hid from Mother Nature.
Then, in March, I saw a daffodil.
Later that same day I was particularly cranky and jittery. Something was off and my world just didn’t quite feel right. More to the point it felt wrong. You know those days when you just can’t quite get in sync? That was my day. I was snappish to people. I felt irritable. It took me all day to figure out why and, late in the day as I took some time to reflect and calm down, it hit me.
It was that damn daffodil.
Of all the unlikely sources that could trigger my PTSD, which I have written about extensively, the first sign of spring is what did it. The charming daffodil became a subconscious menace, a reminder of that catastrophic day, which brought the largest tornado outbreak in history to my doorstep.
Just days before that, daffodils bloomed in my yard as I attended Easter church services.
The violent EF4 tornado that traveled 123 miles and laid waste to my city, neighborhood and home killed 53 people. Today I think of them and remember those families. I wonder about the lives not lived. The weddings that never happened. The career goals never met. The diplomas that were never received.
All of those lives upended.
I miss Alabama today more than any day. I miss the South and the resilience of its people. I miss the…