COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Thursday was the first day Thomas Marsh was able to visit his former home after a tornado tore through the Echo Valley neighborhood.
Marsh discovering on Tuesday that his 5-year-old son, Harlan, and his ex-wife were among the 18 people killed in its path.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to process it, ever,” Marsh said.
Marsh spent the day picking up toys, digging through scraps to find whatever memories he could of Harlan.
“I said I wanted to find his dinosaurs, and we moved a couple things right here and not five minutes later there’s a dinosaur and then laying right there just right there was the other one that we would always fight with in his room,” Marsh said.
As he describes every parent’s worst nightmare, he holds onto a stuffed animal he won for Harlan at a fair.
“I went from crying to angry to blank, sad. Just back and forth. My eyeballs hurt. When I found out for four hours straight nothing but just, I couldn’t stop myself from crying,” Marsh said.
Marsh says the home Harlan and Stephanie lived in came over the hill and scattered into the valley. That’s where he found most of the mementos he took home in a trash bag on Thursday.
Marsh describing the guilt he feels for moving his then-wife and son into the neighborhood.
“Cause it was my idea, you know, we went and looked and found this place together. I found a place I thought they were going to be safe. So I feel like it’s my fault,” Marsh said.
Marsh was the one to identify Stephanie. His new wife, taking the impossible task of identifying Harlan.
Marsh says the most cherished thing he found, was Stephanie’s laptop. A piece of technology he’s hoping still works so he can save pictures and videos of his young son’s life.