I was all set to write a fun blog about wedding proposals today, but as I was working out on my elliptical machine, watching the news, a report came on about a woman- a mother-who had saved her children’s lives in a tornado that had demolished her home in Henryville, Indiana. The story brought tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart and I thought to myself, this is what I want to write about today. So I will save the fun proposal blog for next time and instead, we’ll talk about heroics and sacrifice.
Stephanie Decker knew the storm was going to be bad. She ushered her two children, Reese age 5 and Dominic, age 8, into the basement, tied a comforter around them and then threw her body over them as the tornado hit. Her home crumbled around and on top of her and she was terrified for her children. As she lay bleeding, waiting for help, she remembered thinking, “I have to live for my kids.”
The storm and the tornadoes killed 39 people that day, 13 of whom lived in Indiana, but Stephanie Decker’s children survived, coming through the ordeal without a scratch on their bodies. Stephanie was bleeding so badly, she thought surely she would die. A steel beam had toppled onto her body. She managed to fashion a makeshift tourniquet to help stop the bleeding and after the storm passed, she sent Dominic for help. Not knowing if she would make it out alive, she recorded a video message from her cell phone to her husband.
Stephanie lost both of her legs that day, one above the knee and one above the ankle. Her life will be forever changed. But she saved her children and when she was asked, she said she wasn’t a hero. “I call myself a mom.”
I choked up when I heard that. Those of us who are mothers or know a mother’s love, understand the meaning of sacrifice. We understand the courage Stephanie summoned and believe we’d do the same thing in her situation. I would say Stephanie passed the “Mom” test with flying colors. When we love so fiercely, we protect. I would disagree with Stephanie though. I say she’s a Mom and a Hero. I would bet most of you agree with my assessment as well.
When we write stories, our characters are tested time and again. We see them go through major sacrifices along the way before they get their happily-ever-after. In my story, my heroine Lizzie makes a supreme sacrifice for the hero, Chance Worth. She is willing to give up the one thing she wants most in the world to save him. I love telling fictional stories, because I am guaranteed a happy ending, but I think I’ve learned something from Stephanie Decker’s story, as well. My imagination is not where my characters derive their strength of spirit and bravery. I get my inspiration for my heroines from real-life women like Stephanie who look a natural disaster in the eye and say, I won’t give up without a fight. I won’t let you win.
What do you think about Stephanie Decker? Have you ever faced a natural disaster? Do you like reading stories of brave women who are tested, time and again? What’s the bravest thing you’ve done in your life? And to one commenter goes a copy of my new release, A COWBOY WORTH CLAIMING.
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