“I’m not going to miss any of this stuff,” he said, pointing at what remained of his house. Where his house once stood was now just a foundation and floor with a single room standing in the center.

A range of emotions swirled inside me as I looked at the piles of rubble. The one room that didn’t get blown away was the bathroom, standing defiantly in the center of the structure. This was the room where he and his wife had waited out the storm. A washer and dryer sat against the wall, somehow refusing to move with the rest of the house. The rest of the house – walls, doors, ceiling, everything – had either blown away or was lying in the piles of rubble nearby.

He pointed across the street to where another house had apparently once stood. “What I’m going to miss is seeing Ms. Patterson at the mailbox every morning. She would ask me about the weather and we would talk for a while. ” He stopped for moment as he looked at her mailbox, which was hanging loosely to the post.

I thought for a moment that he was going to cry, but he didn’t. After a few moments he broke the silence. “Those are the things you can’t replace. All this…”he again pointed at the rubble. “All this can be replaced.”

 

Footnote: This is an account of my encounter with one of the victims of the tornado that ripped through Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I don’t use real names, but the photo is from the site where this conversation took place.