FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: As the world continues to be a chaotic place, we celebrate some heroes at home: the Wildland Firefighters. Salida resident and author Kristen Moeller lost her home in a wildfire in 2012. Her latest book Phoenix Rising: Stories of Remarkable Women Walking through Fire...

To those affected by wildfires – those who have lost loved ones, animals and homes, or still wonder what you lost as you attempt to gather the fragments of information that are beginning to surface – our thoughts are with you. There are no words that are adequate. I am sorry. It sucks. It’s horrific. It’s confusing and overwhelming. It’s all of that and more.IMG_0070 We who lost homes in the horrible fire season last year are with you. We feel your pain. We know the anguish. We wince as we read the news, see the pictures and smell the smoke that drifts into our burned up hills. We understand. We were there – and now we are further down this life-altering path. We aren’t far enough along to have forgotten anything – and truthfully – none of us will ever forget. We will remember that day forever. We will remember the sounds, smells and how it felt. The chaotic moments of evacuation – or of not being able to return to collect anything – will be etched in our minds forever. We remember the terror, the bewilderment, the not knowing, then the knowing. We wish with all our hearts that you didn’t have to go through any of this.
On an island, far far away from any mountains that remind me of anything to do with the awful forest fires that consumed our state and turned my life upside down, I received an email from a kindred spirit. She wrote, “I stumbled upon your blog when I was researching PTSD and forest fires. I was looking for anything that would tell me I was somewhat normal in what I was experiencing.” She goes on to tell me she lost her home in the Waldo Canyon fire and thanked me for letting me know she wasn’t alone in her devastation. This many miles away, I was compelled to write and tell you - I needed to hear this. I send my words into the stratosphere and wonder whose hearts I might be reaching. I keep writing anyway as it is my therapy and expression. I risk writing the same things over and over and boring my readers. I risk my heart and soul as I bare both. I feel my feelings and question if I am “normal”. I still have some (not many, but some) people in my life who think I should be moving on by now and that the depth of my emotions are concerning. I internalize their judgment (and, yes I know, it is born out of love and concern) and judge myself. Not that I needed any more judgmental voices to model as I have plenty of my own. I should be... I shouldn’t be... should should should. Here I am in paradise and I shouldn’t shed a tear. Being in paradise I should always, every moment of every second, be grateful. I should realize that this too is my life and I should marvel at the wonder of it all. Always.
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.