For the first time since April 27, waking up to the sound of rain didn’t mean waking up to thoughts of the tornado.
Arguments of whether the Crimson Tide deserved to be in the BCS Championship Game aside, it was something the people of Tuscaloosa needed. These days as I drive through town, Bryant-Denny Stadium looms large almost anywhere I go. That used to be more of a symbolic thing, with the idea of football and the championship-winning legacy of Coach Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant typically at the forefront of fans’ minds year-round.
But now the stadium is literally visible almost anywhere you go in Tuscaloosa thanks to the hundreds of trees and buildings ripped down on April 27. I drive past Rosedale Courts, where numerous people lost their lives, where only recently bulldozers have leveled ground that used to be covered with project housing, and I can see it. From the blank slab of concrete where the building Bobby used to work in stood, I can see it. I haven’t looked for it from Alberta City, one of the hardest hit areas, but I’d imagine it’s visible from there, too.
For months that huge concrete structure looming in the distance almost anywhere you went has stood as an inescapable symbol of what’s been lost.
Last night, it became a symbol of what’s been won.
It was a great game, a testament to the fact that you can be beaten and still come out on top in the end. It was a message the people of Tuscaloosa needed. We’re all tired. Tired of wondering if today will be the day it happens again. Tired of not being able to drive through the intersection of 35th and Greensboro without looking out over I-359 and thinking about that massive funnel cloud bearing down on the city. Tired of the ongoing recovery process that seems as if it will never end.
But this championship is about so much more for our city than winning a football game. It’s a sign that things can not only be normal again, but they can be good.
It means so much more this year than it ever has.