"Mind on Tuscaloosa" helps Alabama, country cope with tornados
TUSCALOOSA - AL —
"There's days that I get up and I don't want to go through the day," Ashley Mims said. "I mean, I don't want to go on without her."
A piece of Ashley Mims' heart has been missing since Wednesday, April 27th. Three days earlier on Easter Sunday she remembers saying goodbye to her daughter, 21-year-old Loryn Brown.
"I can still sometimes feel that hug that I got that last day," she said. "I can still feel her arms wrapped around me and how hard she squeezed."
It was the last time they saw each other.
Nearly two hours away in Wetumpka, Mims watched tornado coverage, following it closely April 27th. All the while she was on the phone with Brown.
"I said 'Oh god, baby, it's coming right towards you, just hold on, get your head down and get your pillows over your head'," she said. "She just kept saying 'Momma, I'm scared...I'm scared'."
Then at 5:13 p.m. everything went silent.
"I just knew as soon as that phone cut off it was over," she said.
Brown and two others in her home were killed.
Doing what he does best, Sean Rivers turned his anger and frustration of that day into a song. "Mind on Tuscaloosa." He wrote it for himself, but it quickly gained a massive following.
"I think [the song] hit everybody in a time where it said what everybody else wanted to say, they just didn't have time to say it," Rivers said.
In the coming months the song and the meaning behind it...grew. He says with all of the different versions of the song and video there have been about 150,000 hits on YouTube. It's also sold over 130 copies on iTunes.
"I think when people heard it they just put everything into perspective," Rivers said.
Including himself. He says he wrote the song in his head on the way back from a friend's funeral. She was a close friend. She was Loryn Brown.
Mims says it took several days to gather the strength to listen to her daughter's song.
"The first time I heard it, I couldn't believe it," she said. "It was just the perfect words to describe her."
And the perfect words have helped her healing and get through difficult days.
"I often, in my mind, replay him singing "The sweetest angel I've ever known'," she said. "It was just so true. She touched so many lives."
Especially Rivers who will always remember his friend and April 27.
"There's still those days where it's like...your stomach will still drop," Rivers said. "And six months later, it's weird, because it seems like sometimes it was yesterday and sometimes it seems like it was 10-years-ago, you know?"
Through song and through spirit Mims pushes forward and Brown's memory lives on.
The Loryn Brown Scholarship Fund has been set up in Loryn's name for the University of Alabama. Mims says it will go to a graduating senior in Elmore County who plans to attend UA. So far the fund has received more than $80,000.