Except for a year and a half in Florida, I have lived in Alabama all of my life.
I have hunkered down and ridden out tornadoes in bathtubs and closets more times than I can count. As a reporter at Channel 19, I chased them - usually fearlessly - for eleven years. I have interviewed people who have lost their homes, their loved ones and all of their possessions because of deadly twisters. I have seen destruction that looked like a war zone.
But I have never witnessed anything like what happened Wednesday.
I still find it hard to fathom what happened to our wonderful state. I know the pictures and video don't do it justice.
My best friend lives in Tuscaloosa. She's a nurse and she worked in the Emergency Room the night of the deadly tornadoes. She said she had never seen anything so horrific. So many adults, children and babies lost their lives.
She told me I won't recognize Tuscaloosa when we go back in the fall for football games.
That breaks my heart.
I absolutely love Tuscaloosa. My four years there were incredible. I love the University of Alabama. I love the historic town. I love the people there. I love everything about it.
And now, so much of it is gone.
But those things can be rebuilt. It won't be easy, and it will never be the same, but Tuscaloosa will arise from these ashes. I have no doubt about that.
What breaks my heart even more are the people who tragically lost their lives. The adults. The babies and childrens. The students. I can't imagine what it must be like as a parent to leave your home in another city, another state and travel to Tuscaloosa to search for your child. Or worse, identify his or her body.
Seven people in my own county lost their lives Wednesday. People who - just like me - were going about their daily routines that day. By nighttime, their lives were over.
It's hard to imagine that.
As Lily Baker fell asleep next to me last night, I felt her breathing. And with tears in my eyes, I thanked God that my child was breathing. And not only that, but that she was right there with me and that I could hear her breathing.
Some parents will never hear their children breathe again.
Please pray for the people of our state. We will rebuild and we will come back stronger than ever. But it is going to be a long road.
More than anything, pray for those who will spend the weekend preparing funerals for those they love.
Take a moment today to tell the people in your life that you love them. And thank God for another day with them.
Life is fragile. Alabamians learned that this week.