On Sunday, April 27, a devastating storm ripped through the Central and Southern United States, spawning tornadoes that left communities decimated and at least 40 people dead, according to weather.com.
Given that recovery efforts are only just getting underway, it may be a while before families are able to honor the lives of those they lost and share their stories. But thanks to a blog post by Jessica Lane Sowards, a resident of Vilonia, Arkansas, millions are learning about the lives of two victims — Cameron Smith, 8, and Tyler Smith, 7, and the unwavering faith of their mother, April, who survived, along with her husband, Daniel.
Sowards, a friend of the Smiths, added a post to her blog, The Hodgepodge Darling, on April 30 titled "The Cheerleader." In this post, which Sowards reported had 1.4 million page views just 48 hours after it was published, Sowards explains her friendship with April Smith; how her husband Jeremiah discovered the bodies of Cameron and Tyler; and how a hospital visit with April led to a discussion about a God who is good.
April has long been a cheerleader in Sowards' eyes, someone she can turn to when her faith wavers, and even as April faces the loss of her sons, the blog post makes it clear that she's holding tight to her spiritual pom-poms.
"And my beautiful friend, my cheerleader, laid in the hospital bed with her broken legs and battered, beautiful face and held my hands and told me not to be angry because her God is good. She knew that her sons had fulfilled their purpose in life and that they were with the father now," Sowards wrote.
The post, which details a discussion between Tyler and his mother about heaven just hours before his death, has touched the hearts of many. Nearly 300 people have left comments, the story has appeared on Faithit, and Yahoo has contacted Sowards, according to her Facebook page. A Go Fund Me account for the Smiths has been shared 27,000 times through social media, and nearly $85,000 of the $100,000 goal has been raised.
Many are also taking to Twitter to share the Smiths' story, calling the post a "must-read."
Emily Eyring is the Faith and Family Web producer for DeseretNews.com.