RUSTON, La. – (5/29/19) “I was sleeping. And, it woke us up. And, it kind of startled us, ” says Ruston High’s Cam Murphy.
It takes strength to make your way through grief, to grab a hold of life, and to let it pull you forward. No one knows that more than Cam Murphy. As a result of April’s tornado in Ruston, it took the lives of his mother Kendra Butler and 14-year old brother, Remington.
“It was just quiet, then all of a sudden it was a scary sight. Scary scene,” Murphy continues.
145 mile per hour winds tore through town. The event left power lines and downed trees across multiple neighborhoods, including Cam’s home.
“I wasn’t quite prepared for what happened, just hoping everything is alright, ” says Murphy. “Came to that realization that something bad had happened.”
“That morning, they called me at exactly 2:21, ” recounts Shevondalyn Butler, Cam’s aunt. “My neighbor, he called me. He was like, ‘Get here, it’s bad.’ I was the first person they told it was one fatality. And, then they came back 30 minutes later, and ‘Well, Mrs. Butler, it’s two. Sorry for your loss.’ I was like, ‘Ya’ll just wait until the sun is up.'”
And, when there was more daylight.
“That’s when they got the little truck or whatever, and they took me back, ” Butler continues. “And, there was people everywhere. And, I just broke.”
Cam, a track and field athlete at Ruston High School turned his attention to running, less than 48 hours later.”
“I just went out and said it was for them, ” Murphy continues. “I just took it to heart that I had to run in that meet. I did it just for them.”
He was part of a group that went undefeated in district, and made it to the state championships. During the healing process, the team wrapped their arms around Cam.
“They knew my brother, so they were friends with him, ” says Murphy. “The seniors, the juniors, they just always had that brotherly, sisterly bond. It was just peace and love from them.”
“I just know, I have to be strong for him, ” says Nicklaus Caldwell, Cam’s cousin and teammate. “We have to be strong together as a family and as a community. So, you just stick together as one and try to operate off each other. And, communicate and trust each other. And, love each other.”
Weeks after the tragedy, he graduated from high school. He’s set to walk on and run track at Northwestern State. No doubt, he’s fulfilling dreams for two people looking down from heaven.
“I just pictured her in my head the whole time, ” says Murphy. “Just smiled about it. Just happy and joyful. I didn’t cry because, I knew she was still there. She was watching.”
“She was prepping for this moment, ” says Butler. “She sat down. We went over invitations two or three times. I was like, ‘nah.’ She was, ‘yeah.'”
The world breaks everyone, and afterwards some are strong at the broken places. That’s true for Shevondalyn and Cam, after losing Kendra and Remington.
“What gives me my courage everyday to be strong is that, the fireman told me she did what she was supposed to do by getting in the hallway, ” says Butler.
“I wasn’t just affected, ” says Murphy. “Other people lost homes. You know, valuable stuff. Some people lost cars. It’s not just about me. It’s about the community. That’s how I look at it.”