Saturday, August 29, 2015

Yes, You Can Imagine It...

 Not a funny post, because too many people here in the northwest are dealing with horrendous fires right now. Where we live, we are surrounded on almost all four sides by some of the largest fires ever recorded, though our valley is safe.

One small and very dear town where Shane and I lived for four years is possibly evacuating today due to the Okanogan complex fire and others bearing down on the town from all sides. Some of our friends are on standby to evacuate, some already have.  Our oldest was born there, and now both homes we lived in there...are possibly gone.  We won't know until the areas are opened back up.

The town where we both grew up has a giant fire still burning, which has caused evacuations throughout many places we remember from our past.  The neighborhood where my best friend lived, where we took long walks down the dyke and taught ourselves to type in her parents' camper.  The area where Shane's grandparents lived when his dad was a kid, and probably all the landmarks from that era, are possibly gone--again, we won't know until they let people back into the areas.

So many sad stories.  Every one is its own private tragedy, and every one means a family starting over.

The firestorm photos are hard for me to look at.  They take my breath away and bring instant tears, because I know what it's like.  My family's home burned to the ground on October 21, 1986, when I was 16. The house we had built from the dirt up, that my parents designed and our friends helped build.  The house that was our sanctuary and our whole world for 7 years, a lifetime to a child.

My mom was out of town on an extended trip to Washington, D.C. that month, so I had put out the cats, said good-bye to my dad, and my brother and I had gone off to school.

By 9:30 that morning, I was called into the gym, where the whole highschool was taking their SAT tests, to take a phone call from the sheriff's office telling me that our house was on fire and was a total loss.  They couldn't find my dad, so I got the news first. I looked outside and saw the billowing smoke from 20 miles away, and I knew that cloud was our home.

I will save the *whole* story for another time, but I wanted to share something.

For those who see the posts of devastation in the news, social media, etc., and say "So sorry, I can't imagine your loss," it struck me that yes, you can imagine what a house fire is like.  Here's how:

Look down at what you're wearing right now.  Jewelry. Clothes. Underwear. Socks/shoes. Anything you are carrying.


Now, close your eyes and imagine that those items are all that you now possess on this earth.

Now open your eyes.

Makes you appreciate everything a little more, doesn't it?

And yes, many people in the fire areas have been fortunate (and I use the term loosely) enough to have some warning and time to plan and evacuate, time to pack what is, and what is not, necessary.  Time to move livestock, or just open the gates and hope for the best. Time to take a picture and a long look and say goodbye to the house and the landscape, and leave.  And yes, it is "just a house", but until you've been through it, you can't really fathom the loss.

A peek at my story...

Our house in the beginning-- 1978

After much adding on, almost finished, early 80s.

View from driveway, 1982
Same view from driveway, total loss.  Sometime in 1988.  My whole life was in there.

Please keep the northwest in your thoughts and prayers.  So many people are hurting right now.

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