Cindy grew up as Cindy Halloran in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where her family relocated after her father, an Army colonel, joined the reserves there. Pretty, petite, and ever cheerful, she was introduced to her future husband, James Banker, by a mutual friend in college at Auburn University in Alabama. James, a fellow churchgoer, was tall, dark, and deep voiced. They chatted in the student center for five minutes, then Cindy went back to her room and called her mom. “I just met the guy I’m going to marry,” she said.
Two and a half years later, she did. The newlyweds settled in James’s hometown, Nashville, Tennessee. James got a good job with an accounting firm. Cindy worked as a speech therapist on the traumatic brain injury team at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Before long, their firstborn, Jacob, arrived, without complications, a healthy eight pounds ten ounces. When Cindy became pregnant in 2009 with the couple’s second child, they learned in the second trimester that it was a girl and decided to call her Clare. As the due date drew near, they joked about a suitable natural disaster to set the stage. They were too far inland for hurricanes. And Tennessee never had blizzards like the one Cindy had been born in.
The baby was due on Friday, April 30. The weekend before, there were tornado advisories. Here we go, Cindy thought. Yet nothing happened. Days passed. But Saturday, May 1, it started to rain.
And rain. And rain …