Two weekends ago on May 14th, my parents hosted a huge graduation party at their house for my brother and his friends since all graduation ceremonies in Tuscaloosa were cancelled due to the tornadoes. Several of his roommates, his girlfriend and her family, several high school friends and their families arrived to party in style. Dreamland BBQ was served and every type of alcohol was provided. Good conversations flowed in between good company. All the baby girls were cute as could be and behaved so well. The weather was perfect, allowing us to sit on the porch and enjoy ourselves. Mom's BFF and interior designer added perfect touches to the house and it looked beautiful. It was a perfect night and gave us the opportunity to celebrate Taylor's graduation the Ritchie way. At the party, I would occasionally look over at my brother and become overwhelmed with pride (and annoyance - Dean's List, really Taylor? Smartass.) that he survived college. And that he survived a massive tornado that took so many lives. I still can't get through one day without panicking, thinking about what could have been if the tornado had taken a slightly different path. Everyday, the image of the huge F4 tornado slowly (in reality, it was too fast for adequate warning) creeping across Tuscaloosa, taking lives with every second it lasted on the ground flashes before my eyes. I truly, truly thought I was watching my brother die as I sat on the couch, watching the live feed on tv, quietly sobbing my heart out. Those few moments are something I never want to experience again. My brother and his girlfriend emerged from his apartment physically unscathed, but filled with emotional scars. They have been so brave during the past few weeks and I constantly find myself in awe of how well they are handling things.
The graduation party had a special meaning to my family and me as we sat there and celebrated another milestone achieved, and celebrated this delicate thing called life.
So proud of you Taylor.