PIEDMONT, Okla. — No amount of time can erase the pain of losing two children.
It’s been nearly a year since an EF-5 tornado ripped Ryan and Cole Hamil from their mother’s arms.
Catherine Hamil told us, “I might see a kid in the store. They remind me of the boys. But I’m happy and grateful for the time I had with them.”
It was May 24, 2011.
Catherine and her three kids were watching TV reports of violent weather heading toward their Piedmont home.
Husband, Hank Hamil, was on the Texas/Oklahoma border, cutting wheat.
He said,”She was in the bathtub. That was the last time I talked to her. I tried to call four or five times but I couldn’t get ahold of her.”
Catherine figured they were safe.
The family was the center of the house, huddled together in a tub with a weather radio nearby to monitor the storms.
Then the lights went out.
According to Catherine, “Ryan said ‘Mom, it’s dark.’ So I got the flashlights and gave them to Cathleen and Ryan and then I heard a boom on the house. I said, ‘Oh no,’ and that’s all I remember. And then I woke up.”
Her children were gone.
Catherine was trapped under tornado debris.
She said, “I was in so much pain. I shouted out to God, send someone to help.”
Neighbors and rescue personnel were there within moments, tending to her broken body and searching for the children.
Cathleen, 5, was critically injured and 15-month-old Cole died later than night.
Ryan, just 3, was at the center of a massive search for days.
Mr. Hamil reflected, “I was hoping we’d find the little guy, walking around out there somewhere. Both was my little buddies. I miss them both.”
Cathleen recovered but is still skittish at even the word “tornado.”
Mom is still recovering from multiple surgeries but has a beautiful distraction from the pain.
You see, Catherine was four months pregnant when the tornado turned her life upside down.
Pointing to 6-month-old Hannah, She told us,”This is a miracle right here. You hear people who take falls and have a miscarriage. Well, this was quite a fall. I’m just shocked that she turned out perfect.”
There are salvaged mementos everywhere in the new house, reminding the Hamils of May 24 and the sons they lost.
Strength, courage and faith have seen the Hamils through the darkest months of their lives.
Resilience gets them to tomorrow.
Love helps them remember yesterday.