Here’s a poignant photo of a man named Greg Cook hugging his dog Coco after his East Limestone, Alabama home was destroyed by a recent tornado and Coco was found inside the ruins:
It’s one of many photos in this slideshow that are emblematic of what it’s like to lose so much and yet salvage something of intense value: life.
We like to think of our homes as oases, islands of safety in a world that can sometimes be harsh. Homes are not only where we conduct the most intimate parts of our lives, they’re also where we store our goods—including items of memory, such as precious old photos—and where we give full vent to our aesthetic sense. That little knickknack we picked up when we went to Italy (or Niagara Falls, or the corner store), that painting or that framed poster or that vase or those books or the curtains with the pretty fabric that went so well with the couch, all go to create an environment that expresses the unique us-ness of us.
All gone when the great winds come. And there’s nothing we can do about it except hug the dog, or cry, or do both together, comfort the living and mourn the dead.
Some musicians understand the phenomenon:
As do many poets (excerpt from “To a Mouse, On Turning Her Up in Her Nest With the Plough, November 1785,” by Robert Burns. Foggage=coarse grass; snell=bitter; coulter=part of a plough; cranreuch=frost; gang aft agley=oft go astray):
…Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell-
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.
That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men
Gang aft agley,
An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!