I am learning to accept that I will not forget her. I use to hate the memories that continually arise out of seeming nothing; sometime I still hate them. More and more I am finding that each memory is a reminder of how great life is now. Each memory is a reminder of the hate, the agony, the hurt, and then proof that I never need to experience life that way again.
The anniversary of the tornado was rough. I am in the grips of survivor's guilt selfishly experienced despite not actually "surviving" anything. I did survive though, when so many died, when so many lost loved ones. I loved her still all the while she was in that basement, our puppy clutched tight between her knees, the wind reeking havoc above her. She was terrified. She was always fearful of even the most innocuous storms; terrified of the hail, of the green clouds. I feel guilt because I should have been there too. Had I been there, I may have been in any one of the houses cruelly demolished, could have been one of those lives cruelly demolished, all because the nature of my job. Had I been in the basement with her, with puppy, I would have survived with her. She claims the experience changed her for the better. She claims seeing the dead taught her to value her life. She was two blocks away from being one of the dead. Her experience makes me value life too.
The woman I knew always valued money and objects, always valued pretty. Appearances were everything. I do not know her after her survival. I hope she morphed into someone wholly different. I hope she treats her fiancée well. I hope she does value the life she has, and does something beautiful with it.
I know real love now. I know real love because I left, because I never experienced that tornado, because I stood up for myself. Leaving hurt, but I am alive today because I left. I hope to do something beautiful.