Simple Words

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A former neighbor posted something on a blog today that made my heart stop and my vision blur. They were simple words, yet reflecting a worst nightmare that many of us have been loathe to share, even though it haunts all our dreams.

The Ranch is gone. It wont [sic] be coming back.

And on Facebook…

rebuild will cost twice as much just to build 1 house. who has 1.7 million dollars that i can borrow?

I knew this day would come. I feared and dreaded it like I’ve dreaded few other things in my life. I feared that as time passed more friends and neighbors would realize the enormity of what it will take to rebuild, and that more and more would choose not to take up that burden. I don’t blame them. I know that I would not be equal to the task, myself.

Only a few homes remain along Stonyvale Road. Eleven, I think, encompassing La Paloma, Vogel Flats and the private pocket of land that rests west of Vogel Creek. So few, and not a one of us who remains is untouched by the vacant desolation that used to be our neighborhood.

Some will rebuild, thank the Maker, but not all, and I suspect not many. Some will create a new, special place for themselves here in the forest. But it will never be the same. Nothing will ever be the same. Simple words, but possessing a hard and irrefutable truth.

As humans, we crave permanence. We build monuments and pyramids and cathedrals. We have children and write books and paint and sculpt and do all manner of other things so that we will be remembered. But sometimes the things we love go away, washed from our reality like writing in the sand as the tide comes in. Many great and wonderful people have lived who are not remembered today. So, too, the wonderful homes that were lost in the Station Fire will fade from living memory. It’s only a matter of time.

But I still want the happy ending. I still want everyone to rebuild and come back to the canyon and sing and BBQ and share good times together. I want to roll back time to the week before the Inferno roared through our lives, consuming so much and leaving such devastation. I would scream and yell and make phone calls and storm into offices until things were done to prevent what we’ve gone through. I’d probably get locked up for my troubles, but it would be worth it. So very worth it.

But I can’t undo what is done. And it sucks. And every day that passes adds another layer to the depth of realizing what has been lost. And it hurts, that loss. It hurts like a ragged cut. It hurts like a deep, bone ache. It hurts, and I want the hurt to go away.

I remember hearing somewhere that grief typically lasts about half as long as the relationship lasted. If that’s the case, some of us will be grieving for years to come. That doesn’t mean we won’t move forward and do good and positive things with our lives. It just means that there will be days like this, when memories come flooding back and we have to stop and ride the wave of emotion like a roller-coaster. Then, when the wave of feelings has passed and the tears begin to ebb, we move forward again. And again. And again.

I still want the happy ending. But if I can’t have that I can at least let others know that they are not alone. My door is open, and my shoulders are wash-and-wear if you need to borrow one for a while.


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