All is vulnerable and precious
Editor’s note: We’re ceding the Publisher’s Corner to our colleague Jay Gamel for this issue. Thank you, Jay, for summing it up so beautifully.
Looking back over the past year, a multitude of thoughts bubble up, starting with the terrible night we woke up to flames and smoke chasing most of us out of our homes, abandoning everything we couldn’t reach in time or think about.
Then come memories of many faces and places that flash by in a few seconds, faces of the people we met, who helped us, who shared with us, who saved us, the places we huddled and raced to for safety, however temporary. I remember first going to the Kenwood Fire Station where someone was already making coffee and something to eat – a welcome bit of order in a confusing and chaotic time. Then finding a place to stay with neighbors I knew only slightly, but who took me in without a second thought, sheltered me and fed me and shared whatever they had. All three of us spent days looking after our neighbors’ animals, homes and property as best we could, listening for every new development. I remember the relief I felt as fire fighters began arriving from all over the state and beyond. I remember the sadness of thinking my home was gone, until I learned differently several days later. It was an emotional roller coaster for days and weeks, and even now, remembering can be unsettling. The year brought a hospital stay from stress and overindulgence, an event that changed my life as much as the fire, and for the better, I must add.
A visit to sisters and nephews and nieces in a far away state brought us all closer together than we’ve been in years.
Not a day goes by that we don’t feel that some new aspect of our lives has been forever touched by the fright of overwhelming disaster that confronted us that windy night a year ago. A quick check of the pantry, the gas in the tank, where are the kids, the pets, the suitcases, all seem to become a part of daily life. A little less tension over the small things and more appreciation of the bigger things in life – fresh air, good food, good friends, walks in the parks. There is gratitude that we are still here, and burned or otherwise, this valley is beautiful and precious.
Life is sweeter, somehow, and the days seem deeper and a bit more substantial than a year ago, when many of us took the status quo for granted. Whatever the future brings, it feels today like we are better prepared to cope with whatever comes. At the cost of a certain complacency, we have gained the knowledge that we can deal with life through the strength of our friends and neighbors and community. A valuable legacy of the disaster that befell us a year ago.