What Stands in a Storm debuted yesterday, and my 15-city book tour kicked off with a signing at Books-A-Million, a company based right here in Birmingham! BAM has been behind this book since before it was finished, and is donating a portion of the sales at each signing to the memorial scholarships/funds of three students in my book who lost their lives to the storm. They are incredible young people who have forever embedded themselves in my psyche, and I hope they will continue to influence many others through this story.
Their families were all present for the launch, and having them all there at once was so meaningful. We have remembered, laughed, and ugly-cried together. I feel close to them in a way that is hard to explain. Like family, almost, but different. They have given me—and you—the gift of their story, which was not easy to share. (I will thank them by name in a later post, after the book has been out for a while, because some of you may not want to know what happens to the people in the book until you read it. The families shared their blessing on this.)
But here: three brave mothers, who have had to learn to live in a world without their child:
Please, go hug or call your kids right now and tell them that you love them. Every time I think of these mothers and their kids, which is pretty much every day, I hug my son. As one of them (A.M.) told me, "You can never over-use the words 'I love you.'"
Big thank-you to everyone who came out tonight. Very first in line was Sherrel Stewart, a long-time Birmingham News reporter/editor who taught my Advanced Reporting class at the University of Alabama, which is the class I now teach at UA. (And I was in that classroom, coincidentally, the day my book sold in New York to Atria Books / Simon & Schuster.) It was strangely wonderful to look across the room and, much like a wedding, see people from different parts and times in your life all together in one room. It was magical. Thank you.