Letter to my thirteen-year-old self

Dear thirteen-year-old Deborah,

it has been quite a year. You have seen heartbreak and indescribable joy. You have seen things that are quite literally hard to explain. You will make friends and then there will also be those that will claim to be your friends but really are not. In August of ‘79, you will come up close and personal to destruction. Hurricane Fredrick will alter your way of thinking in a most profound way. Prior to the storm coming you will be watching the clouds as you so often do. You will notice them lining up in a uniform manner and marching across the sky as if they are going into battle. These clouds are not like everyday clouds, they are similar in size and color, as if in military array. As the day wears on and people making jokes about the last meal of fried chicken and baked beans, you will be watching the winds begin to blow. As night falls, everyone gathers in the living room to wait out the storm, you will be standing in front of the kitchen window and see the most incredible sight ever. You will witness a huge tornado pass by the house in a field. It will look as if it is a huge toy top with all the friction in it as it goes along the path, going in whatever direction it so chooses. Also, after a quick nap in the bedroom before the eye of the storm arrives, you will get up and go back to the living room and shortly thereafter, the sound of a large crash coming from the bedroom. The ceiling above the bed will come crashing down.  

Going home after daybreak and seeing all the destruction of homes being ripped to shreds was totally heart crushing. However, the stories of survival will be incredible. One neighbor being at home in a closet and feeling his home come apart but surviving in a closet that was left standing all by itself on the frame of a mobile home. The place you call home will have no damage, except that it will be picked up and turned like the dial of a clock. The air conditioner will be sucked out the window and everything that you will have left on the bed will be gone. It will be as if someone made the bed and threw your things into a vacuum, you will have nothing left. You will find that this will not be the last time. In the door of the kitchen cabinet will be a single pine straw needle sticking out. It will have come through the wall and stuck straight in as if someone had drilled a hole and stuck it there.  

You will know what being hungry feels like and you will also come to know what the kindness of strangers will be like as well. You will see a time of peace and a time of turmoil, for yourself and others.