On Monday afternoon, around 3:30, a historic tornado hit very close to home - Moore, Oklahoma, site of two other historic tornadoes in 1999 and in 2003. Destruction in the affected area is complete, again. Many University of Oklahoma staff live in Moore and commute to Norman for work, including my colleague and friend Robyn Rojas, who is the assistant director of International Student Services at OU.
So imagine that you, as a mama bird, are about ready to hatch a giant egg. You've got that nest all feathered and done up - daddy bird has made a crib out of twigs and leaves. Spring is here. The sun is shining. Then, one day, almost without warning, the sky goes black, and a funnel drops from the sky. Your nest is blown away. All your friends' nests are blown away. The tree you built it in looks like some kind of fire-hydrant medusa. Your friends' trees look the same. Hey, meanwhile, the sun is back out. You and daddy bird are fine, but what of the months of nest-building, and the perfect tree you'd picked out, and the crib you built?
This, my friends, is what happened to Robyn on Monday. One day the thing you're most worried about is labor and delivery, and your chidbirthing class starting soon, and cloth versus disposable diapers. Then, in the blink of an eye, a very different reality comes to you. A surreality, what with that sun shining on the wreckage. And you're dealing with a very different, more basic, and serious set of worries, on top of the very basic and serious worries about taking care of a newborn for the first time.
As soon as the tornado left, but weather was still severe, Robyn and Ivan drove from Norman to Moore to look for their five-year-old daughter who goes to Briarwood Elementary School, in Moore. There were no fatalities reported at Briarwood, but those children looked like they had been through hell, and had kept going, as the Churchillian adage would have it, but had certainly lost some of their composure in the process. Who wouldn't? Their little girl was pulled out from under a desk in the school. She is fine, but their whole family will have a lot of recovery and healing to do before they feel truly safe again. And maybe they never will, not after this close call.
Spring in Oklahoma is downright schizophrenic.
We are all doing our best to help them, and to let them know that they have options, and a community support network. Robyn and Ivan are currently picking through what remains of their home. If you have not donated to their GoFundMe campaign set up by their friends and colleagues, please consider doing so here, now. Please. These are real people. This is real life.