Thanks to G for this photo of Goderich's Square before tornado

I have been absent from this space for some time. So much has happened since I last posted. I have struggled with knowing how to come back to this space where I share the small joys of everyday when the everyday of our small town has changed so drastically.

It has been over a month since the F3 tornado tore through the homes, businesses and hearts of Goderich. We were in our car driving through Regina when we heard the news. It was the top story on the CBC. What? It can't be true? We had just walked the historic Courthouse Square they were reporting had been devastated two days before. Did we hear them correctly? A quick phone call from my sister confirmed it was true. She was hoping to reach us before we had heard the news elsewhere. Too late. But she also wanted to reassure us that our home was okay. Our cousin's apartment on the Square was not, but they were safe, unharmed physically. That was all we knew at that point. Horrified, helpless, we continued on our journey. We weren't far from reaching my aunt and uncle's home where we were looking forward to rest, a nice break from two days of being in the car. 

Over the next day, the news we slowly received from home was heartbreaking. Neighbourhoods had been decimated. Homes of ones we love so dearly were gone - but thankfully everyone was o.k. Our town was not the same. Both G and I did our best to enjoy our time with family we hadn't seen in so many years. Inside we were dying. Our heads were spinning. Why are we here? Why are we not there? How can we be here on vacation when our town and so many people we know and love are suffering? How can we continue on a vacation when we knew for sure G wouldn't have a job to come home to? It was my mom who convinced us to carry on when I cried to her over the phone about how badly we just wanted to turn our car around and drive home. We still had so many miles to travel on this long-awaited family vacation - and I couldn't bring myself to tell my kids we were turning around. It took every ounce of energy we could muster to put one foot in front of the other. Our thoughts never far from home.

Everyone warned us that the images we were seeing online didn't tell the true story of the destruction. What we saw online over the two weeks we were away did little to prepare us for what we would see when we anxiously arrived home. The landscape just blocks from our house had been changed. So many trees gone, homes sitting in ruins. Unrecognizable. 

We were so thankful and relieved to quickly reconnect with family and friends, to hold them in our arms and know that they really were okay. It was chilling to hear their first-hand accounts of the tornado, something I still feel guilty about having missed. While their own experiences were all unique, a common thread I heard from their stories was how this community, at its most devastated, came together to help everyone rise above it all. This is why I love this town. And even though structurally the heart has been ripped apart, it is the heart of its people that will keep this town beating. It is the heart of its people that will help everyone on their journey of healing, rebuilding, restructuring, replanning, creating a new Goderich that we can all proudly call home.

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