How Is It Possible?

How can eyes that have witnessed such incredible tragedy and participated in the horrors of battle look on me with so much tenderness?

How can a heart that’s endured such catastrophic pain risk loving me with such vulnerability and openness and trust?

It stuns me that it’s possible for you to have survived everything that happened to you. You’re a living, breathing miracle. To have an early life filled with so much abuse and abandonment, to have grown into adulthood with those wounds still open, and then endured the effects of combat, followed by betrayal, and loss, and heartbreak. I don’t understand how you managed to find a way out of that darkness.  How you kept hope alive while being so starved for real, unconditional love, because of the string of disasters that life kept throwing at you.

Lesser men, and those who’ve experienced less trauma than you, have become callous, cruel, and closed off. They’ve made it their goal in life to ensure everyone around them is just as miserable as they are. They’ve pushed away the people who try to love them, blamed their past experience for their present behavior, and lived every day trying to find ways to dull their pain rather than work to heal the broken parts.

But not you.

You’ve worked so hard to keep anger from overtaking you. You’ve spent so much time trying to heal and grow past the effects of your childhood. You’ve risked love over and over again, opening your heart to those who don’t understand you and can’t appreciate you for who you are. You’ve been relentless in your quest for companionship, and stability, and peace.

You’re my hero.  Not just because you’ve fought for our country. Not just because you look out for me, and keep me safe now. But because you inspire me every single day. A hero is someone you admire, someone who  displays the characteristics of nobility, bravery, and fortitude in the face of danger and adversity. And I don’t know anybody who fits that description better than you.

You inspire me with your courage and strength in exerting the effort to keep on healing. You give so much of yourself, in your tenderness and present-ness in our relationship. Your continued willingness to keep trusting me a little more every day? The preciousness of that fact is not lost on me.  You so graciously give me the emotional intimacy I crave, and you believe in our relationship, wanting as much as I do for it to last for the rest of our lives. All of those things are so important to me, and give me so much hope.

I know that you look back on your past, wishing it were different.  You hold on to a lot of regret, and guilt, and shame. In a lot of ways I think you wish you were different. But I love who you are. I love the man you were created to be, with your innate ability for leadership, your talent for strategy, your physical strength and skill, your perceptiveness, and your character and integrity. Those qualities are balanced so well by your softness and sensitivity. I also love the man that’s risen out of the life you’ve led. The challenges you’ve faced have changed you, and have scarred you, and those are the things I think you wish were different. But those things have also made you insightful, wise, understanding, supportive, respectful, and incredibly compassionate. You get people who have been through stuff. You see the world from a different perspective. And it’s a lot like mine.

I’m overwhelmed and humbled to be with you. Every day, I’m aware of how blessed I am to have you in my life. And I’m not just saying that. At some point each day, I can honestly say that I stop in my tracks and feel a sense of gratefulness to God for giving you to me. For those moments to just randomly hit me almost a year and a half into our relationship make me so proud of how far we’ve come.

Believe it, my love. You are my heart. I love you.



Linking up with Lisa-Jo and others prompted by the word Hero for


 Author’s Note:  I’ve had deep and profound thoughts of admiration for my Viking practically seeping from my pores lately. I just can’t even tell you how much I love this man. It’s taken a long, long time for us to break down walls around our hearts and really start to love each other like healthy, complete people do, but we’re really getting somewhere these days. And I’m just besotted, doe-eyed, stoopit in love with him.

80s Flashback

Last year, my friend Liz hosted a hysterical linkup called “I Was A Senior Hottie” and more than 100 bloggers linked up with pictures from high school. It was really fun to see everyone’s before and afters, and get a look into what styles were popular in what parts of the world in the different years represented. I hope you’ll follow the link above and check out the other submissions!

I grew up in the midwest, where fashion trends took at least two years to arrive, so we were always behind the times. But the popped collar and add-a-bead necklace I was wearing, as well as the triangular hairstyle were at the absolute height of midwestern fashionthat year. Very few girls were not sporting this particular hairstyle, as is evidenced by the 1988 yearbook I have.

This is me in the fall of 1988

This is me now, approximately 24 years later:

Big hair was the only hairstyle for a girl. You did whatever it took to add volume and curl. Ratting your bangs, ratting the hair at your temples to make it stand out away from your head, and using either Rave or Aquanet to plaster your creation together.

In 1988, I was tight rolling my jeans, stacking my scrunch socks, wearing a perfume called Illegale, and my best friend Susan (pictured below in the dark blue dress) was wearing Exclamation. I was dating Jim, and I was driving a car that looked a lot like this.

I was in band (earlybird 7 am class) and chorus (2nd hour), and I listened mostly to Top 40 pop, but preferred U2, Depeche Mode, Erasure, and New Order. This was also the year I made All State Choir and had my first car accident.

I love that I still have so many pictures from high school. Here are some of my favorites:

big hair, tightrolled acid washed, ripped knee jeans, AND you can tell what instrument I played in band

with my BFF Kim, at the photobooth in Alladin’s Castle (which I wrote about here)

sporting an INXS concert shirt, acid washed jeans, an acid washed jean purse, and white rimmed sunglasses. Our band took a trip to Colorado that year and I was standing with my friend and fellow sax player, Dave, on the bridge over the Royal Gorge

Me with my BFF Susan, in my parents’ living room, before Homecoming 1989.

With my boyfriend at prom, in an of-the-moment pastel peach dress that my friend’s mom had made me. I was wearing a matching peach garter underneath that was removed later in the evening by said boyfriend. (Too bad for him, there was no “brown chicken brown cow” going on afterward, I was still barely holding on to my virginity.)

Songs I was listening to then and are part of the 80s nostalgia playlist I have on my phone:

West End Girls
If You Leave
So Alive
We’ll Be Together
Just Like Heaven

Do you have awesome high school pictures to link up with?

Were they all burned once you realized how hopelessly out of fashion your wardrobe had become?

Do you dare post and link up with the I Was A Senior Hottie link? I’d love to see you in high school.. but even if you’re not brave enough to post, tell me what you looked like back then!

A Hallmark Moment Between Friends

photo by BlogHerAnnual, used with permission

BlogHer 11 was my very first BlogHer conference. I loved so many aspects of attending, but one stands out in my mind, 6 months later, as having made a lasting impact.

photo by BlogHerAnnual, used with permission

Hallmark was one of the sponsors at BlogHer11, and they hosted a Recharge Suite where they provided a relaxing, beautifully lit, comfortable space to not only juice up your electronics, but chill out and center yourself. To take a moment for you amidst the sessions, events, and unrelenting socialization.

photo by BlogHerAnnual, used with permission

The wonderful women at Hallmark encouraged conference-goers to sit and chat, to partake of the gourmet chocolate chip cookies and other refreshments in the suite. We were invited to make use of the private skype stations they had set up to make calls to friends and family back home, and to investigate and try out the new recordable storybooks in their line of products.

My favorite aspect of the Hallmark Suite at Blogher was the unique and generous way that greeting cards were invited to be shared. Hallmark provided free greeting cards, with no limit on amount, for conference attendees to write in, address, and send to loved ones outside the conference, free of charge.

photo by Eileen Calandro, used with permission

We were also encouraged to send cards to other conference attendees. Just by writing the twitter username of the person we wished to gift with a card, Hallmark would @ them and announce that they had mail waiting in the Hallmark suite. In another generous move, if an attendee didn’t get to the suite, or didn’t receive the alert until after the conference, Hallmark contacted the recipient for postal information and sent the card to them at home.

I’m a words person. I love to encourage others. I was over-the-moon excited that I could take a few minutes and hand-write a Hallmark card to some of my favorite blogging friends, and give them a small gift from me to take home from BlogHer. One of the cards I sent was to my friend Eileen.

photo by Eileen Calandro, used with permission

I had hoped that my words would mean something to her. I treasure her friendship, made totally over twitter, and BlogHer 11 was our first chance to meet in person. We were both so happy that our friendship transitioned easily into real life, and found that we were both as authentic as we had seemed to each other online.

I asked Eileen about receiving the card,and she had this to say: “I get messages and emails and tweets all day long, but this card was different. This card was a symbol that my virtual world and my real world had crossed paths. Your card means so much to me. It showed me that we connected here in the real world and that our connection was more than something online. The card meant we were real-world friends.”

photo by Janice Croze at, used with permission

BlogHer’s 2011 conference and the Hallmark Suite contributed to creating a lot of special communication, deep bonds of friendship, and important memories. The encouragement from the staff planning the suite at BlogHer to gift others with handwitten cards in the age of tweets, texts, e-cards, and blog comments shows a true committment to real communication. I’m so grateful to have had an opportunity to give my words to my friends in such a memorable and significant way.

If you’ve attended a conference where Hallmark has offered a card-sending suite, did you participate? If you attended a conference where one was offered, would sending or receiving cards be a fulfilling experience for you?

Who’s On Your List…

So MamaKat posed the following question as one of her writing prompts this week:

If you HAD to marry a celebrity…who would you choose and why?

Marry? Well, that’s far more complicated. But who makes my “list” of celebrities that I’m sorta drawn to?

Well.. can’t say I have a type, really, but there’s a good representation of tall, light eyed/dark haired, British Isles accents going on here.

Other than their appearance, my gravitation toward them all is based on the same things that draw me to men in general:

1) their eyes (I really believe that “windows to the soul” saying)
2) their ability to make me laugh
3) they seem authentic and genuine
4) they have artistic talent that moves me emotionally


David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor from Doctor Who:

Hilarious in interviews and on screen, a great actor in more than just Doctor Who, he tends to pick roles where there are a lot of emotional extremes.. heroic acts, rage, ardent love, insanity, and especially in his final few episodes as Doctor Who, has a great ability to, just with his eyes, face, and posture, portray a sense of deep pain and loneliness. Being able to act believably in those extremes is really interesting to me. He also just seems like a very regular guy in interviews. Humble, not arrogant, like he’s amused at his popularity. He was and is a huge Doctor Who fan, and totally geeked out that he got to play the role.

Christian Bale


First saw him in Newsies. Loved the character, loved the musical talent and ability to dance like a guy and make it look cool. He brings the badass, and has a great body, and though the character’s exterior may be brash, or elegant, or crazy, his roles almost always include some real vulnerable moments where some vital change or revelation occurs. He gravitates toward roles like that, and I’ve seen nearly every movie he’s made.

Gary Lightbody, lead singer of Snow Patrol

Gary writes amazing lyrics. He is able to put emotion into words better than just about any lyricist I’ve ever heard of. Something about his music, and where it comes from, resonates deeply inside me. His voice is okay, and he’s fairly attractive even if he’s a distracted, fidgety goofball in interviews. But seriously. Wow. Love that heart. He writes the raw and honest like I do, and puts it out there bravely. It’s inspiring.

With less explanation, but meeting those same criteria above, these men also make my list:

Liam Neeson

Hugh Jackman (okay, he makes a hot Wolverine.. but have you seen him on stage in a tux singing and dancing?! Must link you: 2011 Tony Awards duet with Neil Patrick Harris)

Gerard Butler

Bradley Cooper (won me over as Will Tippin in Alias)

Edited to add….

Jake Gyllenhall

I was in my 20s and he was a teenager when October Sky came out, and I thought.. holy crap, he’s gonna be really hot here in a few years.

Behold the comparison of him in October Sky (1999) and then in Prince of Persia (2010). #holyawesome

Mama’s Losin’ It

My Experience With Flashmobs

Just in case you’ve never heard the technical definition of a flashmob, here is the definition from

“a large group of people mobilized by social media to meet in a public place for the purpose of doing an unusual or entertaining activity of short duration: A flash mob brought joy to commuters waiting for their train.”

Blissdom Flashmob

In January of this year, I was a few weeks away from attending the Blissdom Blogging Conference. My friend Jana asked if I was up for participating in a flashmob. I love to dance, and thought this was a great plan, and I wanted to be involved. I chose to be among the first dancers to stand up and start the flashmob, because I don’t feel much intimidation and fear about performing in front of people. I’m not the best dancer, but I do okay, and I love it.

Jana posted several videos on a private facebook group, to instruct the different waves of dancers, and those who could skype were able to do one on one sessions and dance to the music as Jana watched to critique and direct.

The Blissdom flashmob was set to the song “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus, in light of the line in the song about “definitely not a Nashville party!”, and it’s intent was to honor the Blissdom creative team for their hard work. The closing keynote finished, and the music began…

It was such a rush to have participated with so many of my friends, and to honor the team that brings my favorite conference together. I knew the routine well, and had the presence of mind to look around, be aware, and really enjoy the moment.

BlogHer Flashmob – #mobHer #OperationGlory

This summer, I was set to attend the BlogHer conference in San Diego. I received a facebook message from someone I was connected with on twitter to ask if I would be interested in doing a flashmob. I jumped at the chance a second time, and said I would volunteer to be in the first wave of dancers again.

The routine for this song was much harder, but I watched videos from the choreographer and the dancers who lived locally to her and got together in her studio. When we all arrived at BlogHer, I found out there would be a practice session for anyone who wanted more instruction. I went to the practice session, and about 45 women showed up. We ran through the song a few times, and I think most of us felt a lot more secure, having worked out parts we didn’t get as well through video.

During lunch on Friday, in a huge open atrium room with at least a thousand women looking on, the opening notes to Lady Gaga’s “Edge Of Glory” started and #operationglory began. Our choreographer stood up, walked to the middle of the room, and began a solo dance. You can hear on the video that there were people in the room who knew this was the beginning of a flashmob….

This routine was captured on the news in San Diego!

Because this routine was harder, I spent a lot more time watching others dancing so I could stay on top of the moves. But again, I tried to look around at my friends who were dancing with me, and see the joy on their faces.

Having successfully completed my second flashmob in a year, and a more difficult routine, I was ecstatic, and had a newly formed sisterhood with my fellow dancers.

If you ever get a chance, put flashmob on your life list of things to accomplish. It’s really amazing.

Three of my favorite flashmobs:

Hallelujah Chorus in the Mall:

Dodge Rock and Roll Marathon Flashmob:

Black Eyed Peas Oprah Concert Flashmob

Linking up with

Mama's Losin' It

prompt: dance

What I Thought Was Awesome This Week

Good Monday morning to you!

I hope my blog post finds you well, and that you can find a little time to read through my little list of awesome finds this week. If there are posts that hit you, made you think, resonated deeply, please let me know and I will edit my list to add them.

Pour Your Heart Out

from @ElizabethEsther
I want you to go read all four of the posts I’m listing here. No cheating.what if the only person hindering my ability to receive love is… me?crazy stuff starts happening when you actually live your faithmothering is NOT my highest callingwhen Sunday religion hurts you, make soup
from @loswhitThe Suck Will Be Less
from @maxdubinskyAnd After The Fire Came A Gentle Whisper
from @emergingmummyIn Which I Pray Into QuestionsWords on Motherhood, part neuf
from @FindMyNewNormalBuying His Balloon
from @onecraftyellie Shadow Dancing

the writers of IndieInk

from @tlancebGet Back StareMean Bone
from IxyWarm In The Night
from @cabocallaThe Hardest Button
from @LastMomOnEarthHay For A Dead Horse
from @BewilderedBugYesteryear
from @ACNewtWhat’s Left Of Him, Part 1
from Billy FlynnLocked Gates
from @Tara_RFairytales

Recovery and Advocacy

from @goodmenprojHealing Is Not For WimpsDifferent Is The New Normal
from @Lost_and_TiredThings My Autistic Kids Wish You Knew
from @farewellstrangrHope In A Phone Call At PPD to Joy

Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week

from @juliaroberts1
If you don’t read one other post in this section, because you know it’s going to hurt.. Please…. you must read this one. I hope millions of people get to hear Julia’s words someday. Staggering. Wow.
On This Day Of Suicide Prevention, I Remember
from @motherunadornedSuicide Prevention Week
Woohoo! Blue for World Suicide Prevention Day
from @Calandro5I Don’t Have Answers, I Just Know How It Feels
from @farewellstrangrSuicide Prevention, A Life List, and Blue Hair
from @canbeafunnygirlAm I Blue

911 Memories

from @hannahkatybKaleidoscope Lifetimes
from @LetMeStartThe Fluttering
from @bywordsmusings9.11 A Morning Like Any Other

Just Be Enough

from @MotherUnadornedI Closed My Eyes And Stepped
from @FarewellStrangrWalking The TEDx Talk

Various And Sundry Awesome

from @diaperdiariesA Letter To My Teenage Daughters
from @JosephRansethThe Stages of Grief, Gratitude, and Hope For the FutureWhat Is Love, Really?Letting Go Opens The Door To Receiving

What I Thought Was Awesome This Week

Welcome to this week’s edition of What I Thought Was Awesome This Week. I would love for you to link me to even more awesome, and I will come back and link it here!

Perspective Changing

Just Be
from @GDRPEmpressInvitations Do Not Matter
@EmilySuessEnough Already
Good Men
from Hugo SchwyzerThe Male Body – Repulsive Or Beautiful
from @jackfrombklnBehind Every Scar There’s A Story
from @JosephRansethWhat Love Has Taught Me And What I’m Still Learning

Writing Prompts and Linkups
from @tlanceb Float On
from @tara_r White Lightening
from @totthoughtsMia
from Joe SandersBeta Decay
from The Drama MamaJabberwocky Love
from @alyssagoesbangI Would Say
from SunshineWhatever Will Be Will Be
from @runaway_tweetsUrsa Major
from @ACNewt My Father’s Daughter
from @0NatureGirl0 Love For Dummies
from @JenO_Eh Abandon All Hope

Pour Your Heart Out

from @galitbreenDieting As A Mom Of Girls
from @saidkristinIll Humor
from @vinobaby1 When Grace Is Gone
from @singular_insaneNo I Wasn’t Ok But I Am Now
from @squashedmomNot My Best
from @themompledgeThe Mom/Woman Pledge
from @themommyhoodMilkshakes, Losers, and Idiots
from january dawnDear Kristen
from @thejugglingact Sometimes It Hurts

Advocacy and Awareness

from @MotherUnadorned at BandBackTogether.comIt’s Suicide Prevention Week
from @deana_bo Life With Tourettes
Spina Bifida
from @laurita86 The Cause Goes To The Big Apple
from @biggreenpen Hope For Carla’s Family
Bipolar Disorder
from @addyeBClarity On Being Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder 2
from @lotsOspermiesMy Psychiatric Facility Stay Part 1 & Part 2Therapy And Bipolar Diagnosis
from @tara_rFamily Table
Peanut Allergy Awareness
from @annieinsanityMy Son Has A Peanut Allergy – Five Years Ago I Was You
from @MinnesotaJoYI’m Not A Bad Mom
from @Angeline1611Something That I Know About Part 1
from @momgosomethingKim’s War Story
from @yaelsaarThis I Believe
from @onecraftyellie Dr. Fear
from @postpartumprogr Dangling Off The Side Of An Anxiety Attack
from @deana_bo The Anxiety Of It All
from @randomgirlblogTaking It Deep
from @janmetalmanHow To Cope With Flashbacks
from @janedevinTrauma Yardstick
from @CryingOutNowComing CleanAwakening: A History of Female WreckageReally, Your Voice Matters
from @5minutesformomWhy Mom Bloggers Resonate
from @TheDaddyYoDudeFaces
from @studio816The Planes Of Paper
from @connectionagentGet Some Help
from @redheadedjenCloak Of Invisibility

Various And Sundry Awesome

from @runaway_tweetsMy Stash
from @jesskristie Lost In Truth
from @janmetalmanTake Away The Masks, Let Me Keep The Tears
Blog Posts
from @mooshinindyPast Mistakes, Present Miracles, Pretty DorksThe One About Gratitude, Hope, and InspirationYou Are Stronger Than Anything Broken Inside Of You
from @jennymeyersonWhy I Blog
from @hannahkatybThe World Called, It Needs Your Love Letters and The Great Ache Letter
from @mayhemmatriarchBlogathon 2011 at Razing Mayhem


This one is a celebration. Soul baring, thoughts on mental illness, coping, recovering, AND.. celebration of who she is with a dance party lip sync to Prince.
This sort of post just makes it all worthwhile. Go be inspired by my new friend.
from @addyeB Dance Party Friday – Imperfect Star Edition

Awesome Playlist

I just got a really really amazing compilation CD made by a friend. It’s so awesome I wanted to come right to my blog and post the songs for you.

*Courderoys – Justin Hopkins

Tommy & Krista – Thirsty Merc

Magnetic – Tim Blane

Neon Eyes – Saints of Valory

One By One – The Trews

Juliette – The Kicks

Hey Mama – Mat Kearney

Catch My Disease – Ben Lee

Anna Sun – Walk The Moon

Something Good Can Work – Two Door Cinema Club

Live It Out – Abandon

Pumped Up Kicks – Foster The People

Strange Girl – Airborne Toxic Event

Matador – The Soldier Thread

Escape – Fairchild Republic

What If I Fall – Onna

Blue Forever – Matthew Barber (lyrics

Hallalujah – Ryan Bingham

24 Shades – Nic Cowan

Love Comes And Goes – Xavier Rudd

What I Thought Was Awesome This Week

I KNOW, right?
The return of What I Thought Was Awesome.
I’m glad it’s back, too.
I’ve been writing again. For the first time in months, words and thoughts are flowing. As a result, I’m reading a lot more. So I have to share what I read with YOU.

I know this will shock you, too, but most of this week’s list are heavy things. It’s what resonates with me. You know that. Posts that are filled with emotion, posts that are cathartic and healing for the writer, and validating and that inspire compassion and acceptance from the reader.

That’s my favorite stuff. Posts that advocate for themselves and that I want to honor by promoting.
Here is the long and distinguised list of awesome reads I have collected for you:

Heavy Thinking

from @schmutzie
This Is The First Anniversary Of My Sobriety
The Girl Who Couldn’t Leave
from @maxdubinsky
Stop Serving Jesus Breakfast In Bed

from @sheswrite (at Huffington Post!!)
Fiction That Moves You

Closing Shift – a free ebook short story!!
Just Be Enough
from picsprayersandpompoms
from @wusf
A special subsection of related posts regarding mental illness, suicidal thoughts, community, and the #ppdarmy
Write On Edge : Worst Memory Prompt
(these will be hard to read. They are the entries to the linkup that had the most impact on me, and I wanted to honor the bravery of these writers by spotlighting them here)
from picsprayersandpompoms
from accidentallybydesign

Various And Sundry Awesome

from @5minutesformom (Janice)
from @alliworthington (Happy Birthday to you!!)

What I Thought Was Awesome This Week

I apologize for the heaviness of this week’s awesome reads. They are what spoke to me, and while they are mostly hard to read, they are so worth it. All very well written, some hard truths, many inspiring words, life lessons and loads of insight to fuel compassion. All pages out of their own lives, and shared bravely. Thank you for reading, and I would ask you to leave comments on ones that impact you. I want to make sure more people see these words.

Yael writes at Post Partum Depression to Joy. She is an amazing woman and a wonderful writer, so authentic and real and so full of compassion and empathy for hurting women trying to mother through post partum depression and anxiety. I have had the pleasure of getting to know her this spring. She writes a post this week “dedicated to the millions of mothers who go through the special hell of not feeling love for their baby from the moment of birth”

Schmutzie addresses socialization and not drinking.. and I thought this line was especially powerful and so healthy: “My present realization of myself as a happier, more hopeful, and more resilient person who is nearly free of suicidal ideation depends on those swift, decisive actions, and so I willfully take those actions.”
Whispatory tells a harrowing true story of something she is proud of. Her work as a volunteer on a women’s crisis line led her to one particular night dealing with a woman with multiple personalities. It is fascinating and worth the read.
HannahKatyB writes about serving as a volunteer in the Bronx during her first year out of college. It is full of wonderful life lessons. Spend some time on her site, and I would encourage you to subscribe, too. She has a unique perspective and a wonderful talent for stringing words together to challenge and inspire.
AnyMommy wrote at The Extraordinary Ordinary about the experience of being the relative of an alcoholic. It’s powerful.
Ellie gives us the story of the time she was taken from rehab in an ambulance. Lots of flashback, lots of ugly truth, and some powerful perspective in the present. In the midst of doing wonderfully in recovery, she realizes she cannot afford to forget, or minimize how bad it really was. As always, I am blown away by her transparency and her storytelling. So much love for you, Ellie.
Grocery Dad wrote about the time he ran away from home. This is one of those posts that clearly needed to be written out. He is a great storyteller, placing the reader right next to him, experiencing the event along with him. It is a look into the sort of abuse and dysfunction that takes years to heal from. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This was incredibly brave and I have a lot of respect for the stories he is telling as he is No Longer Quiet.
MamaRobinJ writes about a time she ran away from home too. It was recently, and while there was respite, there were hard things to process, too. Free time to think is a double edged sword sometimes, I understand that.
Dan Rux answered an Indie Ink writer’s challenge: You survived a deadly tornado, but a loved one perished. What happened? This is a true story.