I’m not sure why, but the stairs really stood out to me. On May 22, 2011, my hometown was devastated by an EF5 tornado. 161 lives were lost. Thousands of people and pets were injured. Trees were stripped of bark. Homes were turned into concrete pads. Asphalt parking lots that no longer held cars remained in front of open spaces where businesses once stood. An entire third of Joplin, Missouri, was gone. It didn’t look like our city at all anymore.
Stairs that led to nowhere littered the landscape. I found myself looking for them as I drove through the tornado zone. I wondered about the people who once walked those stairs. I imagined kids jumping them two at a time as they hurried home from school. A weary dad may have trudged up them on the way home from a long day at work. Teenagers with crushes may have sat on them and made awkward conversation. Moms probably held the hands of little ones as they carefully walked down, one step at a time.
There was just something about the stairs. They had stories to tell.
The stairs held a promise, an adventure, a journey. Those stairs are still there today. Silent secret keepers. Reminders of the people and places we miss. Concrete images that hold the silver linings of memories.
The stories I share will be told in the spirit of the empty stairs. They will ultimately be about life with all of its ups and downs–belly laughs, choking tears, red-faced embarrassments, teeth-grinding frustrations, bold love. Let’s share the stairs and discover where they might lead.