Another harrowing tale – a neighbors close call

Occasionally the thought surfaces, “maybe it’s time to start viewing this as an adventure.”  For a moment, I see the possibility.  Then the grief surfaces again.  I think I may be rushing things with that thought… I think I need to just be where I am.
Again, I awoke at 3:30am and tossed and turned until 5, finally getting up.  I feel the exhaustion right now.  It’s heavy, dark, deep.
Today, we have (hopefully) the last sifting session at the site.  The crew is mostly women – many friends driving from Boulder and Denver.  A few neighbors who were spared coming by to help as well – Janet Shown is leading that charge.  More angels are swooping down to ease our pain.
I have organized a meeting of the homeowners who lost homes for tomorrow night.  We will come together for the first time.  Through this process, I am hearing more and more harrowing stories.  Just wept through this one from Mo Larsen who gave me permission to share.  It’s terrifying.

As early as Thursday, March 22nd, my husband started calling 911, & even a branch of the Forest Service to find out what was going on…..same answer every time….”oh Mr. Larson, don’t worry, it is a controlled burn”.  So, me being the trustworthy & believes everything someone says type person, I believed them. I worked on Monday, suppose to be a double, but my boss said he heard on his police scanner that there was an uncontrolled burn going on somewhere in Jeffco…..he came in at 130…..I left work because my boss thought maybe I should go check things out…I said sure, just wanting to leave……I wasn’t the least bit concerned…..I got home around 330, made dinner, a great dinner….meatloaf….mmm, mmm, good….dang it, it is still in the oven…I then went upstairs to do some ironing because we were leaving for Florida the next day.

 I was ironing, when Bill & Shawn got home from work. They both felt the fire looked a little nastier, so Shawn left around 430, & Bill called 911, Forest Service, Fire Dept & even 9 News…..”everything is fine Mr. Larson”….same old answer. Well, Mr. Larson felt things were not fine & started taking pictures. I thought he was being a little silly…..??? At about 510, we got a big bang on our front door. It was our neighbor, whom I never met, & he said, “you guys gotta get out, the firemen just came to my house”, (he was renting John Campbell’s house}…Bill came in the house, & said, “sweetie we gotta go”…of course I said, “I don’t wanna go”….he said, “grab the house papers & the dogs, & let’s get out of here”…..so, I ran upstairs, grabbed the house papers, & took all my beautiful ironed clothes, threw them in a suitcase, ran downstairs, grabbed the dog cages, and got in the car, only to turn back to our incredible view & see the flames upon our deck.

 Yes, we got out…..& thankfully most of our neighbors did as well, but What if???? I think our neighbor saved our life…I found out his name is Justin, & hopefully someday I can thank him in person. We have cleaned up our rubble…..finding only 1 or 2 distinguishing items. We hauled away about 114, 000 lbs of scrap. My husband is taking this pretty hard. Built the house himself. Pounding every one of those nails himself, but, life goes on. We are leasing a loft in downtown Denver! Yes, culture shock, but I really love it…..I have met some great people & I like having people & the kids so close by. Shawn’s house/cabin/& barns were spared, so he is living back up there, & the girls just brought the horses back up on Wed…….. So, all in all, things are good…..not sure where tomorrow will take us, but I just put one foot in front of the other, & go forward. There will always be the memories, & we did have 22 years of those. The girls miss it & they really loved our home. I will close for now, but plz keep us posted on the meeting. I work some weird hours at the airport, so I may not be able to make all the meetings, but I will try when I am off.

 Thanks for keeping me informed…..I think of you & David often, & my thoughts are prayers go out to you. 

With love,Mo Larson 

PS….I don’t sleep much anymore, so I am up early, but I do get a lot accomplished!Take care………

We were all so close.  I too thanked Justin for saving the Larsen’s.  I again thank Joleen, Greg, Sean and Shawn for saving me.  I am forever grateful
Last night I dreamt that my friends were getting tired of supporting us – just a dark fear, I know.  It was a chaotic dream – we had all sorts of people milling about.  It was occurring in the house where we are staying – not at the site which was odd.  No one had given any instruction to those that came – and people were getting mad at me for not paying attention to them, accusing me of ignoring them.  Someone brought their sick kids and wanted to put them in the room where I was working – I started to lose it as it was my only space to work and have quiet.  Then this person began yelling at me and telling me all sorts of terrible things that others had said about me.  Then David and I got in a fight and I jumped in my car to flee not having any idea where I would go.
What do you make of that one?
I know it’s the fear.  I know it’s the concern that I will eventually overwhelm others with my requests and need for support.  Many of us struggle to ask for support.  We don’t want to bother or burden people.  We are afraid of being needy.  We think we are supposed to take care of ourselves.  Yesterday, my friend Nina spent most of the day doing inventory with me.  This was the “field trip” version where we wandered the aisles of frequented stores looking at everything to jog my memory.   She wondered aloud if she was really being helpful – “Nina”, I assured, “you have no idea just how helpful.  I cannot do this alone.  I will crumble if I try.”
We were at REI for 2+ hours wandering with a clipboard, Nina writing things down, me taking pictures.  A few times, staff approached us and asked if we needed help.  We always politely declined.  At one point, a steel-haired woman bee-lined for us and abruptly said, “What are you doing?  Are you a competitor?”  Oh my, the dragon lady emerged in me! I icily replied, “No, my house burned to the ground, we are doing inventory.  Thank you.”  She retreated without much else to say.  Don’t F with me now, folks.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.
Nina and I did have some fun but our trip to Williams-Sonoma was tough.  David and I registered there for our wedding 17 years ago.  The memories flooded back.  Seeing the extent of kitchen items lost (even though I never quite took to cooking…) was daunting to say the least.  And, the prices…  Will I ever replace my All-Clad cook set or Wustoff knives???   I think I will become a thrift store shopper for kitchenware.  I can’t bring myself to spend much money yet.  We have been given some money to replace certain things – but I stall.  I really do want to replace my teakettle, my popcorn maker and my coffee grinder – I want the exact same ones I had before.  And, I really miss my blendtec blender.  I met my necessary vegetable intake that way.  Yet, I freeze at the thought of purchase.  I don’t want to have to carry it.  I don’t know where I will put it.  I don’t want to accumulate.
We know that “this too shall pass”.  At some point, I won’t stall out at the cash register.  We will want some of the creature comforts.
(You know what’s coming next, right?)
Just not right now…
4 Comments
  • Unknown
    Posted at 15:45h, 21 April Reply

    Each and every day you inspire me. You inspire me to be strong in the hard times and find joy in the little things. And, if I do not feel like I can find joy you have taught me a wonderful phrase… “Not right now”.

    I think of you many times a day and wish you and David peace and joy at some point. Even if it is not right now.

  • Jessica
    Posted at 16:50h, 21 April Reply

    Loving you two. Your writing is taking on a life of its own. It is incredible, devastating and beautiful. Thank you for sharing so much of you. Your dream, just fear taking its toll. It’s not your job to pay attention. It is our job to pay attention to you, to hold you lovingly in support, not budging, loving you every step of the way.

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