Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One Month Later

Yesterday was the 1 month anniversary for the start of the Waldo Canyon fire and the day we evacuated. Thursday is the 1 month anniversary of the day it jumped Queens Canyon and came down the mountainside into our side of the city.

Looking back is kind of surreal. We've had some rain since then, but the temps and dryness is back to where it was during the fire. Everyday I leave work through the door facing the mountains. The one I stood at as I watched the flames come over.

One of the things I've been reflecting on ties back to when I was 13, almost 14 years old. That was when we left Africa in a hurry.

My Dad was on his motorcycle headed into the bush to visit a remote village when he hit a pothole hidden on the other side of a rise. The bike flipped dumping him hard on the ground and then landing on him resulting in severe broken bones and burns from the hot tailpipe. The next seven hours were spent getting him to a hospital via at least 3 different modes of transportation. The hospital had an X-ray machine, but no way to develop the film. So it was sent over the border to another hospital where the doctors there looked at it and conversed over a radio. Mom could hear them, but had no way to respond. Bottom line, Africa didn't have the level of care that Dad needed.

Mom and my 7 year old sister packed up our house in 3 days. Then they headed to Jos via a 3 hour drive on 4-wheel-drive roads and a 4 hour flight in a small plane. My 8 year old brother and I were in boarding school in Jos and when Mom, Dad, and my sister got there we found out we were going back to the States. All we could take was what fit in a suitcase. We thought we would come back, but we never did. We left things that I often think about and sometimes wish I had; especially when I see what others have from growing up that I don't.

A month ago, when we were walking around the house pulling together what we thought we should take to evacuate, we were thinking in terms of 3 days. One thing I realize now is that I also got into the same mindset I had when we left Africa. Only one suitcase. That is all I could think of. So I took enough clothes for 3 days, my computer, and only a very few things that were precious to me. The things I had brought with me from Africa in that one suitcase, the jewelry my husband has made for me, and a couple other things.

Fortunately, my husband doesn't suffer from the same barriers and history that I do. He took out 3 loads in the truck, including things that I should have grabbed and didn't think of until he had done it for me. He grabbed my spinning wheel and the stuff that went with it including the project itself. That moved me to tears because I didn't realize it was precious until I saw that he had grabbed it. He also grabbed all of my jewelry. All of it, not just some. He's bought a lot of it as gifts for me. He knew that some of the things I had left were precious and didn't need to be left behind.

So sometimes the past can come in and limit us but then there is often someone, usually a spouse or other loved one, who comes in and fills in the gaps for us.

A month later, life has mostly returned to normal around us. But there is a friend who lost her home in that fire and she has no family here to help her. So the loved ones helping fill in the gaps in her life are her friends and team mates. We've sifted through the ashes of her house looking for things and now we are helping her take time to work through insurance issues and other paperwork. And when the time comes, we'll help her get new winter clothes, new furniture, and new memories to replace the ones lost.

That's what love is for. Taking care of one another.

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