Rolling with it
There is a lot to roll with these days. Panic fills the air as the smoke rises. 911 operators in neighboring counties throughout the state are inundated with midnight calls about the smell of smoke; fire departments are closing rank to protect their own backyards; rumors are flying; tourists are canceling their summer visits to our great state and the governor is attempting to calm the anxiety. Colorado is on fire and not in a good way.
Yes, it is re-traumatizing to those of us who have lost homes and loved ones. Yes, we wince at the latest headlines and cry at yet another tale of woe. Yes, we wonder if it could happen again to us in our rental homes or trailers. Yes, we gather together and look knowingly into each others eyes. Yes, we wish there was more we could do for all those who suffer as we struggle to keep our own heads above water. Yes, we lose sleep and question just what is happening out there in this crazy world. It is rampant. It is impacting thousands of people everywhere. It seems almost everyone knows someone who has lost a home or is evacuated. And, there seems to be no end in site. The weather continues to not cooperate, the soil is drying up, the grass withering. Storms roll through and flash their lightning strikes starting even more fires and leaving no measurable moisture.
I am back at Jessica’s after calling “uncle” on trailer living. The heat was too much for me, but I would have persevered. When my dogs began freaking, that was my breaking point. I cannot have my animals suffer. Not at all. Roscoe is staying at Jessie’s with her brood and Tigger is back with me. We are working on “Plan C, version 287.65” on where to live for the next month. Cool basements are being offered. Most likely we will spread our time between Jessie’s and Jessica’s. We just have to make it through July and then we will flee the state for the comfort of Florida, then the Bahamas. How can it be that Florida is having cooler weather than we are? Of course there is that most recent tropical storm but I am sure anyone in Colorado would trade the fires for a hurricane right about now.
I will go about my day as much as possible and attempt not to glance to the north or south. Driving up the mountain last night provided a terrifying view of both the Flagstaff fire and the Waldo Canyon fire. Eery, spooky, terrible, terrifying. Lives being disrupted, turned upside down. Living with the unknown – and then the devastation of the known. If you live anywhere near the mountains or foothills right now and you don’t have your possessions inventoried and videod, insurance up to date, evacuation list prepared and an ‘essential items’ bag packed, you are just plain crazy. This is the summer to be on alert.
So how do we live without living in fear? This is the question of the age. For those extra sensitive types, we need to find outlets and distractions from the angst. This morning, I spent time with Jessica’s angel girls. Pretending to bite off their noses, serving up their breakfast cereal, letting them feed Tigger, watching them strut around the house in their princess finery. The giggles, the hugs, the love, I soak it up. Buzzing energy fields of curiosity as well as tempestuous little goddesses in their own rights. I let them wash my mind of worry. I let myself be in the moment with them before they leave for their day of adventure. I absorb their goodness and their spunk. Now, in this quiet house that feels palatial after my trailer, I breathe deeply and read some headlines – steering clear of the pictures as those are already etched in my brain.
We went first this year. Going first is probably easier than going last. We got it over with by burning down already. We don’t have to worry about that anymore (well, as previously stated, it does come up as a vague worry… could we burn again? Is there enough fuel on the ground? Would “lightening” strike in the same place twice? Is the universe that cruel? Is someone up there making these choices for our fate? and on and on…) But really, most likely it won’t happen again. So instead of living in concern, we live on this side of things. First in a line of rocked lives. We wish no one had to feel this pain. We wish the state wasn’t on fire. We wish for the rain gods to smile upon us. Three months ago yesterday we were where so many are right now. So many thousands more. At the beginning, in the not knowing, in the early stages of panic, or in full-blown panic attacks. Life changed in an instant but it took a few more instants for this new version of our lives to be known.
The High Park people have been dealing with this awful reality for 18 days. That’s a long damn time to be in upheaval. And, no end is in site for dousing that fire. The Waldo Canyon fire is exploding, doubling in size over night, and the governor is saying, “we have never seen a fire like this in the history of Colorado”. I read headlines and I breathe. I turn back to my writing, my outlet, my sanity. I hope all those who suffer will be as lucky as we are with the support we have received and continue to receive. I hope all who wish to support those people will remember that this is only the beginning. This is the long haul. This will not be over even when the flames have finally breathed their last fierce breathe. This will not be over in a month or three months or six months or even a year. This will not be over when the victims smile for the first time, or say they are ok, or move to another home or another state. This will take a while. Possibly a long long long while. Please be patient with your people. Please give them the space to be however and wherever they need to be. Please know that just because we may look “good” on the outside, our insides are still crying out on layers we may not even realize. And, please read my blog from June 12th where I give suggestions for dealing with fire victims as we walk through fire.
We may be moving on. We may be rolling with it. But it is not a straight line, a neat progression or a stage to move through and check off a list. It is messy, ugly, scary and monumental. It has it’s beautiful moments where the world stops and we meet another human’s kind heart. It is a roller coaster. We roll up high and we roll down low. We roll through ash and muck and tears and anger. We roll with the waves of the next fire or the steam from the last. We roll in our sleep and roll through the day sometimes not remembering a thing. We roll in pain and sometimes we roll in laughter.
And, for those of you who are in the line of fire, let yourself roll. Don’t get off the roller coater until you are ready. Ride the ride. Be gentle with yourself, as gentle as you can be when you feel like you are falling through the earth into nothingness.
Just roll with it all. We are rolling with you.