Wednesday, May 30, 2012

a notable exception - a wildfire

this weekend was to be nothing but relaxation and revival
well there was definitely a lot of that
with one notable exception
a wildfire

one whose flames licked at the edges of our quiet cul-de-sac
threatening our families' homes
i was not there
i was not there to witness it
but oh the images in my mind were vivid enough
i was not there to help
i was not there to comfort
i was not there

it was the end of the first day of a fabulous workshop {that i will be posting about soon}
my thoughts were on heading toward the beach and maybe catching a movie
the first call was made to me by mike in a rather casual voice
'there's a fire on the hill'
i wasn't quite entertained by his idea of going to video it

what followed was nothing short of the scene in a movie in which you find yourself yelling at the screen telling the girl what to do, because she's incapable of making any decisions on her own

phone calls and texts from family, dear friends, and neighbors
telling us they could see the fire
asking if we were ok
offering help
showing up at my house to race my children to safety
asking me forcefully what they should throw into my van
what should they save...?
what items would i want to preserve if our entire house went up in flames?
i could hear the urgency in their voices, the chaos behind them

i was absolutely paralyzed, completely incapable of thinking on my own
{begin screen screaming...}
the only things i could think of were my computer, my hard drives, and my photos
thankfully i knew where all those were
but could my lips articulate how to find them in my house?
not without much stuttering, repetition of ineffectual words like 'um' and 'uh', and flailing of my arms

what else, they asked
i could not think, my body was shaking, my teeth were chattering, it was too much
to my rescue came two girls, two strangers, guardian angels really, that i had met that day at the workshop
they stayed by my side, thinking for me, and yelling out ideas
important documents
blessing and wedding dresses
wedding album

i could not believe this was happening
i needed to be home, but i was too far away, there was nothing i could do in time
i wondered why i was here
i had felt such a divine thread in me coming to the workshop that i had a hard time understanding why Heavenly Father would want me to be here when my home was yards away from becoming ash
mike continued to reassure me that everything was going to fine, not to come home, there was no need.
he began telling me a silly story about the kids responding to mike's request for them to grab what was important and leave, by grabbing their gatorades and treats they had just bought at the store.  i have to admit that i was annoyed at first that he would 'waste' precious time by telling me about my children's juvenile thoughts on what defined 'important', but as i began to laugh an amazing thing happened:
i began to calm down
mike's humor had disengaged my frantic behavior and i began to feel capable of handling this
i later thanked my Heavenly Father for blessing me with a man who is just perfect for me
a man that knows exactly what i need and what i needed at that moment

i got off the phone reassured that if those remaining at the workshop would offer a prayer on our behalf, that i could make it home alone
{as the girls had offered to drive me}
april offered a heartfelt prayer on behalf of my family and i felt the peace i needed and the lessening of the wobbling of my legs
it is a beautiful thing what prayer can do to unite near strangers

i received updates from mike and my mom and leslie as i drove home
the peace remained with me
and 15 minutes before i arrived home, the fire was contained and had not reached closer than 50 yards to our home, 50 yards is way too close for my comfort but i'll take it

as i pulled up to the house and saw the charred hill i was overcome with emotion and my legs began to give out, my body began to shake, and my teeth began to chatter once again
i opened my front door to the solid smell of fire hitting me in the face
and to two of my boys running down the stairs calling out to me and engulfing me in hugs,
oh i needed that
oh how grateful i was for those who came to our aid
oh how grateful for that front door and for those gripping arms of my children
mike was calm as if nothing had happened
the yin to my yang

several times i went outside before bed to see flashlights of those heroic firemen casing the hill for hotspots and doing whatever firemen do that i am so grateful for
i went to sleep listening to their saws and knowing they were keeping watch
those who know me, know that i do not cook, bake, wok, etc and i have never wanted to bake cookies before, ever, but those firemen need some cookies to say the least

in the morning i walked down the stairs and noticed the ash on the floor for the first time

i strolled around my cul-de-sac and surveyed the damage
oh how close it came
it was a sobering sight
even the animals felt it
i heard coyotes howling, birds screeching, and saw lots of displaced wildlife at the edge of our street

although both mike and my mom were insistent that i return to my workshop that day,
i found myself wanting to wait until all my children had awoken so that i could hold them a little before i left
i lingered and got ready at a leisurely pace
i had been emotionally and physically affected by being separated from them during such a traumatic event
however, i was grateful that i was able to return to the workshop and found the art to be quite therapeutic
i can't wait to share what i have experienced

one thing that i have learned from this particular experience is that i need to be better prepared for an emergency
friends, what would you save from your home? please share.  i would love to hear.
do you have a list of those items and where they are located?
is your list somewhere others could get at if you were not there?
do you have friends and neighbors to call on that would race to your side?
my challenge to myself and to you is to compile this information
for 'if ye are prepared ye shall not fear'  {Doctrine and Covenants 38:30}


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