Two weeks ago almost to this moment, the lives of me and many of my friends changed forever. Today, I kept recalling a statement that I’ve heard in almost every situation like the one me and my friends just went through. “I can’t imagine what you’re going through!” Today, I kept thinking, “That’s right! You can’t imagine it!” Because two weeks ago today I couldn’t imagine it either!
Now I have a totally new relationship with fire. Sure, I’ve seen firestorms before, on television, in newspapers. I’ve even known people who lost everything. But I’ve never had it breathing its hot breath down my back before. Sure, I’ve tried to imagine what it would be like to lose everything when I saw it on TV or read it in a newspaper. But there’s that phrase again. “I can’t imagine what you’re going through!” And I couldn’t then. But now I don’t have to imagine. Even though my house is still standing, I went through the process in a way that was so real it cannot be called imagination.
I have lost many things that are just as important and just as devastating as losing my house and all my material belongings. I lost the peace of mind that came with my routine of walking in the forest everyday, breathing in the fresh air, recognizing the wildlife, hearing the birds singing, the familiarity of the constant dependable relationship with nature. Yes! Yes! Yes! I know! It will come back in the spring. It will be renewed by the winter rains! This is a natural part of the cycle of life. But so is grieving loss! So is the struggle to keep one’s footing when everything familiar and everything nurturing has suddenly been ripped out from under you!
I will cry, I will have bad dreams, I will grieve! I am a survivor. But this I know from my life experience. I have survived because I do not hold back what is there naturally. I don’t need to pretend I’m all together when I’m hurting and I’m sad. That is as natural as the rains coming to nurture new growth among the ashes. Perhaps my tears are like the rain!