This was the scene that occurred in my hometown. Except, at the time the tornado hit the trailer park, it was 2a.m. and pitch black. Not until the sun came up did all of the emergency workers see what they'd been walking in while doing rescue and recovery.
I was one of the emergency responders. My shift was supposed to end at 2a.m. and I was eventually forced to go home at 9a.m. That is an event that, every year, brings memories of death, tears, stress, courage, sacrifice, and much more. Because of this tornado, and its destruction, I am now terrified of hearing the words "tornado warning" from the local weathermen.
Today is September 11th, 2012...11 years after the most horrific event our country has experienced on our own turf. While most of the country repeats sharing memories every year, and using the phrase "never forget," there are many who were affected that would love to do nothing more than forget. They don't want to remember the pain, the loss, the fear. It's not that they don't appreciate the nation-wide support, but it's hard to move on when there are daily reminders of what used to be.
Infertility is not necessarily a "big event" in the lives of the nation as a whole...or even in the lives of my hometown's tornado killing 26 people...but the devastation, loss, fear, anger, pain, tears...is still a huge moment in the life of someone who experiences it. Some of those same questions that run through the lives of victims from terrorist attacks or natural disasters are there with the infertile community as well:
"Does God hate us?!"
"How could something like this happen?!"
I'm bringing up these stories for this reason...
This past Saturday, Chance to Hope had their first "Hope for Family Fair." The idea behind having it was because there are so many events that cater to the fertile community. Chance to Hope wanted to be able to offer something that not only offered information and resources to help couples build/create a family, but to have support afterward.
I have to say, for our first year, the day was amazing. We had 8 speakers including an RE, a CNHP, adoption agencies (both private and DCS), an open adoptee, and even a minister. Not only that, we also had a total of 12 vendors that ranged from a women's hospital, to international adoption agency, to a credit union. Everyone was very complimentary with how it turned out and there was already interest in next year!
While walking around the room and speaking to our vendors, along with the conversations held at our own booth, I met amazing people. There was the woman who, after years of infertility, made the decision to do international adoption. She was the blessed mother of a 4 1/2 year old from Russia and she and her husband were waiting to adopt again. There was also the couple who recently took a long-needed break from everything IF-related and were now gathering as much information as they could before picking up where they left off.
Each person, whether speaker, vendor, or participant, had a story. I was asked how Chance to Hope came to be...what was the reason it began? And with that, I began sharing my own story. A story of loss, tears, anger, questions, bitterness, pain...a story that I thought I'd one day want to forget. To move on from.
However, there was a bigger plan for my future. Along with that story, I was able to share of others sacrificing for me...their willingness to offer help...the courage I found to put one foot in front of the other in order to make sure I could one day help someone in return.
The family fair was held to support those struggling to get through difficult moments, hard decisions, and life-changing journeys. Although the reason for it was a tough topic, the strength that one can find from talking to others who have been on a similar road or to people who see the need and want to help meet it? Wow, such a powerful moment.
Although there are hard memories from the events of Nov. 6th, 2005...and though it will be 7 years this year since that early morning run...there is a bond that is felt with those I worked with at that time.
Today, 11 years after Sept. 11th, the entire country takes a moment to forget all the political drama and remember the connection we all have to that day.
Tomorrow, when someone is faced with the questions infertility can bring...when they can't find a reason to take another step forward...be that person that reaches out to them...
Tell your story.
Remember your own struggles (even if you're right in the middle of your own).
Embrace a moment in time to hold someone else up in the midst of their pain.
I think you'll find that life is full of hardships. It's full of struggles and doubt. But if you'll take a look around you, see where you've come from, what you've been through, and take a chance to be a friend...you'll be surrounded with strength and even courage that you can make it another day. The change you set in motion by helping someone else will begin something new in you that will never be forgotten.