It was Monday morning and I was standing in the kitchen trying to decide which cookie I’d tackle first. There was a list of twelve, and prioritizing was important if everything was to get done in the limited amount of time I had set aside.
The TV was on, mainly for noise since the house was relatively quiet, but I also wanted updates on the storms that had devastated several areas in at least six states, the hardest hit being Kentucky. As a young child I had traveled to that state quite often, trips made for my mother to visit her half-sister. They lived in Hardin, Kentucky which was less than 30 miles from the city of Mayfield. For those who’ve been blissfully under a rock, Mayfield was almost wiped off the face of the earth on Friday night and Saturday morning.
Andy Beshear, the Governor of Kentucky, was standing before a sea of reporters, trying his best to maintain some control over his emotions as he fed them the latest statistics . . . 64 dead at the time, ranging in age from 5 months to 86 years . . . 30,000 homes without power . . . hundreds unaccounted for . . . directions for the families of those missing so DNA samples could be collected . . . And through it all he struggled. His voice broke and there were long pauses filled with grief and pain.
And I was standing in my kitchen, preparing to bake Christmas cookies. Despite the storms our area had experienced over the weekend, we had survived relatively unscathed. A few tree limbs, some debris—nothing that couldn’t be easily cleaned up. Nothing that changed our lives forever.
The Governor continued with his remarks, ending them by saying he had accidently scribbled them on the back of his kid’s school work. They were studying Newton’s first law of motion. An object at rest remains at rest while an object in motion stays in motion. That was what his son had written on the front of that page. It seemed almost prophetic in its symbolism. His state would continue to move forward, to address the devastation as quickly as possible, to support those whose losses were incalculable.
That seems to be how it always is with Life and Death. Despite our firm belief that the world should stop when we are suffering, it continues to turn, just as it always has. In this instance, so many are suffering from unimaginable loss . . . loss of homes . . . loss of businesses . . . loss of life. And yet the world continues to move forward. Christmas will come and go. The New Year will arrive right at the stroke of midnight on December 31st. And the months on the calendar will peel off at what, for me, has become an alarming rate. Life will drag all of us along with it, whether or not we feel inclined to go. Those of us who have been blessed enough to make the journey peacefully should be grateful for the lack of tragedy and chaos, but we should also remember there are so many more who are struggling. It’s fine for us to continue moving forward . . . but we can’t leave those behind who are still trying to find their way.
About the author: Lisa Shackelford Thomas is a fourth generation member of a family that’s been in funeral service since 1926. She has been employed at Shackelford Funeral Directors in Savannah, Tennessee for over 40 years and currently serves as the manager there. Any opinions expressed here are hers and hers alone, and may or may not reflect the opinions of other Shackelford family members or staff.