The scenes from the May 20 tornado have been devastating. Having lived through the OKC bombing and the May 3 1999 tornado destruction, this post is inspired by the many Oklahoma ex-pats I witnessed grieving and expressing helplessness yesterday.
Among the many who call you home, there are those who no longer reside within your borders.
On normal days we miss your smell, the beauty in your flat land, your food (Oh, Lord, your food!), and, most importantly we miss your people.
On normal days, we wax nostalgic about Sonic runs and teenage tomfoolery. Our face lights up when we, in our current place of residence, meet another wayward Oklahoma soul. Someone who understands the importance of the football schedule, someone to whom cows are not foreign.
On normal days, we carry around Oklahoma in our hearts as part of who we are, though dirt roads are mostly a part of our past.
And then, on days like May 20, we watch from afar the devastation of the land and the souls. We have never felt more invested in Oklahoma. And we have never felt so far away.
We click "donate," we text a series of numbers, but it does little to soothe the fear.
We want you to know, Oklahoma, that the prayers and love aimed your way are not only from the good people of America, but from the legions of us who hold YOU dear, specifically, who understand I-35 as an equator, who needs not an explanation of May tornado destruction.
The difference between you, current Oklahoman, and us, former Oklahomans, is that you can see it with your own eyes, you can reach out and hug a victim, you can drive quickly to the shelter to offer a helping hand, you can take a deep breath of native American air before your sobs.
We're doing what we can from a distance, but it is not the same. Our consolation is knowing, because we've been forced to know, that Oklahoma will withstand this tragedy and show the rest of the world the most solid spirit of any place in the world.
You have our hearts and our prayers.
Those who still call Oklahoma "home."
You can also donate to a local organization on the ground, Feed the Children.
Also World Vision has a disaster relief fund that is responding to the tornado victims.