The Cloud

Have I talked about the irony of the weather on my birthday?  On April 2nd, it drizzled then turned to snow, when a mere week earlier that would have prevented the fire.  Today it is overcast again.  We are socked in, in a cloud.  We mountain folk need the moisture  – and our parched, scorched land needs it desperately.  We also are hoping for rain to clean the sooty stains that mar the earth, rocks and turn the barren landscape into a filthy mess.  Uninhabitable is what it looks like right now.  So, yes, even though the moisture came 1 week too late, yes please to the rain gods.
Items spun through my mind again this morning and late last night.  I remember a metal raven sculpture with cute fat feet, a handmade jewelry box full of my silver bracelets – a collection I didn’t wear but had for eons.  In that box, were a few other treasures including a voice recording of my first mentor, Susan Hansen who died way too early for many of us.  Now, I will only hear her voice in my head. 
Keepsakes and mementoes are ways we stay connected to significant times.  They bring us back and remind us of who we once were and in many occasions how far we have come.  I still had a selection of love letters from my significant relationships prior to meeting David.  This didn’t threaten my husband and I am sure he had some as well.  Of course, I kept the handwritten collection of poems from David – including the first he wrote me 1 week after meeting.  Fortunately some of these are digital, but many aren’t.   Ahhh, all the things we hold on to, cling to, deem as necessary… 
I thought these mementos were vital.  They grounded me in a past, they demonstrated I was loved; they showed a reflection of me in others eyes over the years.  It was always profound to read mementos from the years during my addiction where I was self-destructing but people in my life still loved me and thought I was special. 
What do they prove?  Nothing really.  Who am I without them?  Everything I ever was – and more, really. 
Yesterday, a friendly reporter for on Denver’s 7 News interviewed me on camera at the site.  (It aired last night at 10pm, and I forgot to post it to Facebook… Still can’t remember anything.)   Camera rolling, we talked, he asked questions, I answered and we meandered for an hour.  I shared the ups and the downs, the roller coaster of emotions, the daunting task of the inventory list, the generosity of the community, the rallying together of the neighbors, the fright of that chaotic day.  I sifted through rubble and cried when I described the flecks of gold in my granite counter and the wood floor in my bedroom.  David and I soaked up the details while in that house.  We fully experienced moments – they were rich, comfortable, safe and cozy.  I loved looking at the colors of the wall, contrasting against other colors.  Deep purple in my office, sage green in the hallway.  I loved my wooden stairs where dog toenails had scratched a trail and the sound of them echoing under my feet.  I loved running up the stairs to my room and taking 3 right turns while holding the custom railing that our dear friend Jason Champion crafted for us.  I loved the blue-green washed wall in the bathroom that was such a unique combination of colors that we could never match it with touch up paint.  I loved the glint of the stain glass that Sandy Fifield lovingly crafted for us – a moon and star set against a sky of azure.  I loved the handmade barn wood doors that David made – and am happy I grabbed his “Green man” wood carving off my office door. 
When I last left my house, I really didn’t think it would be the last time.  It was surreal, a rushed exit making split second decisions of what should come into this next phase of our life.  I grabbed what made sense in the moment in my over-stressed noggin.
During this entire experience, I have never once wondered “why me?”  It hasn’t even occurred to me to ask that question.  I know I am not in this alone – 26 others lost their homes and 3 died.   I don’t know what each of the Kubler-Ross stages of grief will look like for me.  I believe I will cycle through versus spend a lot of time in any one.  That seems to be my pattern.  The one I am most concerned about it depression.  Depression to me is being stuck in my head, flat, low, and tired.  Not quite hopeless – but sometimes hopeless that it will ever feel differently.  I also tend to turn my depression in on myself.  It becomes extreme self-doubt and self-criticism.  This morning, I started to doubt my writing.  Maybe I won’t have enough to say, maybe it’s boring, and maybe I shouldn’t write every day…  I am choosing not to indulge in this thinking.  My writing has now become my outlet.  I know there are people listening on the other end.  I have friends who say reading my posts has become part of their morning routine.  And, it has become my morning routine. 
While writing my first book, Waiting for Jack, I wrote constantly – since that time, I haven’t had a regular practice.  I have been writing my second book but fitting in my writing around other things.  Now, 7 days in a row, I start my day this way.  I pray I can continue and will continue.  I don’t know exactly where this writing is going but I know it is therapeutic.  I always tell my clients to write their experience, write their lives, write the pain… shouldn’t I apply the same to myself? 
So write, I will.  I won’t overthink my words, I won’t edit (besides a few obvious typos that right now look like a sea of red slashes across my screen).  I write quickly and write what it there in the moment.  I don’t know what I will write when I sit down.  A first sentence starts to come as I place my fingers on the keyboard; the flow starts to happen as I go.  I pause in a few places and wonder what comes next, but I keep my fingers moving. 
And, I ask you to keep the comments coming.  It helps to know I am talking to someone.  I am doing this for my own process – and I am sharing my journey with you for a reason.  Ever since getting sober in 1989, I have learned to process through conversation.  When I first heard authentic tales of darkness as well as hope, it gave me permission to have my own feelings.  I know that by writing, I give others permission to express their deepest darkest worries, concerns and fears.  Sharing joy is wonderful, but why should we be alone with our dark side? 
Thank you for reminding me I am not alone.  Today, I do feel the grayness of the sky.   I am still praying for the much needed moisture, but I pray for the sun to shine internally.  And, I am stalled out on how to end this.  My head in my hands, I stare.  I feel tears wanting to come, a lump in my throat.  I think I will end this now and go rest my head on my babysitter of the day, the goddess Dusty Meehan.  She sits waiting for me to be ready to speak, coffee cup in hand, the patience of a saint.  She will allow me to cry but for some reason I don’t want to.  The damn hasn’t broken in a few days.  Only small tears have poured out.  Ahhh, now I remember that is what my depression wants.  If I keep my tears inside, I get tired, feel buried.  Alright, I will stop writing and promise to go cry – to go have a big cry.  Right now.  Ok, ready…  1, 2, 3….  

  • Bev
    Posted at 14:51h, 11 April

    Love you dearest Kristen. You have a beautiful heart.

  • Helen
    Posted at 20:16h, 11 April

    Mmm, yes, keep writing. It’s fresh and fragrant, like spring flowers. Love you babes…

  • nancy
    Posted at 13:17h, 12 April

    Yes, reading your writings has become a part of my morning too. It helps me too, in my life journey.

  • Tanya Buck
    Posted at 14:18h, 12 April

    Kristen, I read your blog every day too, but yesterday, I forgot. So today, I got to read two in a row and then signed up for it to come to my email every morning. Thank you for sharing with us, for allowing us to share with you. I know the receiving is much more difficult than the giving, but with this blog, you are still, STILL, giving back. And for that, I thank you. If you ever need or want a different babysitter, or a trail ride, call me. We’ll ride. 🙂

  • Rachel Carlson
    Posted at 19:01h, 13 April

    Albeit, this might sound very strange right now….I look forward to your writing on a daily basis. And while I might not have a comment on each and every post (some are too powerful to uncover) I simply would like to say that whether you know it or not that I am finding growth and reassurance in your writing to help me get through the losses I have experienced in the past year. So please believe me when I say that your journey through this loss IS helping other people. And while I’m not sure you think that you wanted your healing to be healing for other people as you are going through your regrowth, please know that those of us with somewhat similar losses are listening, are wishing you well and want to see you make a comeback. You are already proving that you are and will. HUGE hugs!

  • Shaya Mercer
    Posted at 03:51h, 17 April

    You are not alone… and also, I feel less alone because of you. So that’s something. Hope you had that cry and it was a good one. Love you!

  • Fran Beckwith
    Posted at 16:56h, 17 April

    Dear Kristen – I know of you because I read “Waiting for Jack,” but I did not know of your devastating loss. Don’t know why, but after reading this today, I am crying too. For no other reason than your pain and that of your neighbors. I pray for your healing and am grateful for your friends. Their love for you is tangible. For now I can only send you a hug, but one of these days….