POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY, Okla. – The Hoke family hid from the fury of the May 19 tornado in their storm shelter.
The twister destroyed their home and took the life of their family dog, Buck. They buried him near the place their house used to stand and marked his grave with a wooden cross.
“I used to always love playing with him.” 6-year-old J.W. Hoke said. “I miss him a lot.”
In the middle of all the loss they found hope in an unexpected place.
“Some lady came up to me carrying this big white ball of mess.” Michelle Hoke said. “And she`s like `look what I found! Do you know who`s it is?` I picked it up and I looked at the front and I was like `I think this is mine.` I flipped it around and I noticed the backing. I was like `This is my wedding dress!`”
A little dirty, a few rips, but otherwise in great shape. The couple snapped a picture, beaming with joy despite the destruction.
Michelle said finding her wedding dress is symbolic of the power of true love and just how much you can overcome with the right person by your side. “It`s put us to a test but it`s made us a lot stronger. Not just me and my husband, but as a family and a community out here.”
Michelle wore the dress when she started a new life and now she’ll keep it close as she rebuilds another.
“I`ve been so protective of it ever since I got it back home.” She laughed.
Michelle and her husband James just renewed their wedding vows last year and that just makes it even more special that they found her dress. The couple will be married 11 years in August