When The Shad last week saw the video of the tornado rising up out of the Connecticut River just past the Memorial Bridge that connects Springfield to West Springfield, Mass., my heart sank. In part because I knew it would most likely mean death for some people in the area or at the very least the destruction of many homes and livelihoods.
But it was more personal than that. By looking at the video, I could tell it was taken by a camera on one of the two tall buildings that tower over Interstate 91 and look straight out over the river. My brother Michael works in one of them. Further, he, my wonderful sister-in-law and my beautiful niece and nephew live in Wilbraham, right in the tornado’s path. In a morbid sort of way, I knew Michael should be alright because the video didn’t have some sort of scrambled ending which one would assume we would have seen had the camera transmitted its footage and then met an untimely end. Of my other loved ones, I wasn’t so sure.
When I found out they were all safe and their home spared from the twister, I related that to some friends who said, “They were lucky.” I agreed but then thought, “Did luck have anything to do with it?”
I sympathize with those who claim, “If there was a God, how could he allow [insert tragedy] to happen?” I have no answer for them. In fact, I’ve asked the same thing, particularly after 9-11, an all-encompassing event than touched everyone in some way, somehow. And an event that I unfortunately witnessed as it happened. Yet I’ve maintained my faith (it’s gotten me through more than just that) as has my family which has had its share of heartache over the past several years. Maybe, just maybe, the Man with a Plan decided we’d had enough for a while.
To speculate as I just did will invoke some indignant responses such as, “So God spared your family and chose to kill the others?” Again, I have no answer. Knowing what I don’t know has served me well over the years. What I do know is that the tornado rose out of the river and head straight for my brother’s building before taking a turn an heading away. And while is ravaged the area, including parts of Wilbraham, my family was spared.
You have to know both my brother and me to appreciate how typical his response was when I finally spoke to him. Always calm, measured, even-tempered with an unmatched intellect, he’s sort of the anti-Shad in many ways. He described the event as if he was telling me about my nephew’s baseball game with a near monotone, “Yeah, it was pretty scary.” Scary, indeed. And while I can’t explain all the mysteries surrounding God and everything that happens, I’ll be giving thanks tonight.