I have been told this many times in my life. And I think it applies to me now. Did my feelings get hurt? Yes. Does it really matter? No. I understand this is not about me. This is about a damaged and hurting community that needs to be handled with care. I may have been sad and crying this weekend but I still had a house to do it in. So good news, pity party is over.
In my mini world of Butte Fire Facebook groups many people are on an emotional roller coaster. It is an intense experience for most. It is difficult to explain to those not involved what life is like in Mountain Ranch right now. I know I am not the only one feeling this way. Here is a glimpse of the realities of the Butte fire as told from both those who lost their homes and those who are here to help.
"Every time they have to go back to their property it traumatizes them again. I wish the clean up would hurry up so at least the beloved homes aren't a constant reminder of loss. A kid told me that every time he goes home he is drained of all his energy. I have watched him on many occasions act out and display anger and inability to respond to adults. It hurts to know he's hurting."
"People who aren't affected, especially those living outside the area (but still close by), act completely clueless and unaffected. I walk around in an exhausted state of my own... a woman at a store today was like, "Are you enjoying the rain?" I said, "Yes, and I hope all those in the burn area are under shelter and warm." And she replied confidently, "Oh I'm sure they have a place for them to go." Who is she talking about? Who is they? People don't realize there is no savior but us. We. Not them. Nobody else. Even if there are shelters, it is still a displaced, uncomfortable place to be while they are still trying to figure out what the hell to do."
"I feel like a different person than I was 2 months ago, in a good way. I would also turn back time if I could for everyone who has lost. For me, I would not turn back my experience because it has let to immense growth. Part of that has been facing a lot of my own fears and insecurities in order to be of service. Another part has been an awakening to reality - the reality of others' hearts... Who would go the distance for their fellow humans and neighbors... and who won't."
"I tell them it sucks, but I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. I think it truly changes everyone, and the lives that have been touched, lessons learned, and friendships made. Absolutely invaluable." Katie Clark
"Even my extremely insightful 8 year old boy said to me last night, "mom I think this hurts you like having a baby, but for a really long time." Darci Harris
"One of my scariest nights was during some really strong winds. The winds were so strong I knew I would never be able to sleep in the tent. I took all of my bins- one with food, one with clothes, one with tools, out of my truck, put them in the tent and slept in the truck. Even then I was scared. I was so worried that a tree was going to fall on me....and it turns out, one of my biggest trees did fall....luckily it was not near me. The base was burnt out and it collapsed on itself in the wind."
"But when I first got to my parents place, I was basically scream/crying. And since there is nothing there anymore... All around... The sound carried far and bounced back to me in an echo quick. Was the weirdest thing I've ever felt and heard. People invite us to go camping sometimes (my boyfriend and I) we always decline... I always tell people... Growing up in Mountain Ranch was kind of like camping all the time, you're out in that nature. But I cannot even imagine having to "camp" there without much of a choice with this current situation and in these elements and it kills me that some either don't know the help that's there, can't get to it, or refuse it for whatever reason they may have." Katie Clark
"I've never felt more vulnerable, exposed, scared, dumb and helpless in all my nearly 40 years, lol! It's a very liberating yet terrifying place to be, swinging like a pendulum from one extreme to the next, minute by minute. Trying to just hold on, to the little things left like the birds by the pond, and the nostalgic echoes of my baby goats playing on the wagon as my children pulled them through the garden, giggling amongst the wild flowers.. These memories are all I have left, and nothing to show for it. Not even pictures as I was a chrysalis in the moment, hands in the dirt, shovels moving, kids celebrating life, pets playing in the trees, these moments were my life. And right now and for the last 7.5 weeks, we have half existed in a limbo purgatory like mental and emotional and physical state. My children thought at first it was an awesome adventure, we researched gypsies and trackers of times of old and made up new stories, but now they are weary with wondering nothing other than when they can go back home to the property and sleep there at night in their own beds; as what was asked last night after soccer trophy party on the long drive back, and I had very little left in me to reply confidently, that very soon, things will be normal again... And my children sighed, and laid their heads down on me and in the dark behind the wheel I swallowed gallons of tears. This is the reality."
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!