For me, this was the point of no return.
The next years that followed were ones of mourning not only the people I had considered the closest who had left my life, but the pieces of myself that I had to shed in order to move forward. I found myself in an unfamiliar place, not even knowing who I was at first or what steps to take.
Through writing, training in martial arts, and becoming active in my spiritual life, a new woman emerged from this newly shed skin. Since that time, I married a man I am completely and madly in love with, have worked hard to build a writing and tutoring practice and have found a true sense of purpose, vision and service. I am still learning about how to create boundaries, honor my creativity and refine my practice as a writer and teacher.
Still, there are times when I get uncertain or doubt myself. These are the times when I look back over my shoulder- clinging to the past. While it serves no purpose, it is usually a good indication that I am about to make a leap forward into something with new possibilities.
Returning to Tuscaloosa, talking to our neighbors, seeing street after street so decimated, there is no returning. As volunteers and servicemen and women cut trees, clear and repair roads, clear debris, and begin to rebuild- there is no returning to the way things used to be before the tornadoes.
No matter where you are, you cannot deny the transformations that must take place. Even if new houses were built in the exact same spot and the exact same family moved in, the experience has changed them in some way. It is undeniable. Forward can be in many directions, but you cannot return to the way things used to be.