This is not a reality TV show! This really happened to hundreds of thousands of people and animals. While the rest of the world gets to change the channel, or “go on with their lives,” most of us in the middle of this historic event wake up everyday with physical and emotional memories and scars that cannot be casually flipped away with a remote button or by focusing on some other distracting or more exciting story of the day. Like it or not, we are living the classic post traumatic healing experience which some may believe is determined by the mental and physical strength of each individual having the experience. But reality is more complicated than that.
Each person’s losses and sense of loss is determined by how their lives have been changed by this catastrophic event. As we move farther away from those epic days of fire and smoke, many of us have now entered a typical stage of grief where we need to deal with a sense of abandonment. The first responders have gone home, the supportive friends have gone back to their own lives, the shoulders the ears and the extended hands are fewer and further between.
But many of us are still struggling with one of the most traumatic events of our lives. In order to get through to that glorious day of rebirth, that wonderful day when the trees sprout new leaves and the grasses and wildflowers push their way through the ashes, we still have to walk many miles through unfamiliar territory. That sense of familiarity, routine and place that have been lost, are not to be taken lightly! They are just as important, if not more important, than the material and physical things destroyed by this fire.
I personally understand how important it is to look forward to the phoenix rising from the ashes. But it will have to happen in my own time on my own terms. I need time to learn how to walk again without all the things I have lost. Without the tapestry I wove in order to survive an already difficult era in my life, I need ample time to regroup and to say goodbye to many things and places that will live forever in my heart, but will never be the same.