Katie Katie Parsons is the creator of Mumbling Mommy and is a freelance writer, editor and communications specialist. She works from her home office on the east coast of Florida. Most often she writes about life in a combined family of five children and what it's like being a full time work-from-home parent. Feel free to pitch guest post ideas or just drop her a line at katie@mumblingmommy.com.
REUTERS/John Sommers II

My husband and I were barreling home to Indiana from our road trip to Houston, Texas.  We had spent some wonderful days with my sister’s family, and spending time with each other. Being away from home, work, and the norm had been so healing.

We had just crossed the Indiana/Kentucky state line, and I was still in my mellow “I’ve been on vacation mode” when I saw a big sign on the side of the road that said, “God Bless Henryville.”

Initially, it added to my warm & fuzzy feeling. “What a nice way to welcome people into the state.”   Suddenly, the words below this caught my subconscious. I can’t tell you exactly the words…but the gist of it was, “No storm is bigger than our God.”

It hit me hard and I burst into tears as I looked out the window.  I saw destroyed homes, dwellings without roofs, sheds that were shredded, trees that were mangled, neighborhoods leveled.

“Henryville!” A couple weeks before we were donating to the Henryville fund after a deadly tornado ripped through the town.  The children in our local schools were doing drives to collect school supplies for the children of Henryville.  There were deaths, there were children missing…a town had been crushed. I had read the news reports.  I had even seen footage on the TV…but to actually see it…to associate the gut-wrenching losses, the miracles of children found, and people who somehow walked away from the violent assault into the reality before my eyes was humbling. There were people injured, in hospitals, or dead.  It hit me hard.

There were accounts of everyday heroes who acted bravely and wisely in the onslaught.  There were pleas for help.  There were people sleeping in gymnasiums, churches, and neighbors’ homes.

And this was real.

There is so much “unreal” that I buy into on the TV.   I have cried at sad movies, been enraged by villains, rejoiced when someone “beats out everyone else” and wins the top prize on a talent show.   I have had strong emotions regarding situations that don’t have any bearing on my life whatsoever.   But it’s so easy to just live vicariously through someone else’s life. I have called it “entertainment.”

And there was “reality” in Henryville.  I wept for a while.  Some of it was empathy for the pain and loss; some of it was for the children there who may not feel as safe as they used to; some of it was the mind boggling effort it will take to rebuild.

But most of it was shame.   Am I mindlessly floating through my days, doing just enough to be seen as a “nice person”?

Are there situations that I am aware of that I don’t get involved in because I get caught up in my own busy-ness, my projects, and my life?

Am I living my life with purpose or just existing?

I want to be more than just an observer.

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Category: Grandparents

Tags: Henryville