gratitude, mental health, trauma


Never yell it in a crowded theatre; that’s the rule, right?

I’ve been putting off writing this post, but knew I would have to address it here at some point.

I wrote a great deal about the power of fire in my journals and in my thesis: how our world needs it, how it is ultimately nourishing in spite of its power for destruction, how vital it is for certain ecosystems, and how desperately it is needed (metaphorically) to burn away an old system that no longer serves us and our world. But ultimately I was writing about something I really didn’t know or understand, not on an intimate or deep level.

I know better now. I know it’s power intimately. I know how quickly it can rip through your life and take nearly everything from you.

The morning of February 7th is both vivid and illusory. I recall it in a haze. Time stopped for me at roughly 4:21 when I stepped into the hall and realized our smoke detector wasn’t malfunctioning… and time still remains this elusive not quite real concept, like I’m trapped both within that moment and simultaneously so far distanced from it that it’s just some weird myth my brain keeps turning over and over in an attempt to break it down so I can better understand.

Very few individuals realize just how close we came to not making it out that morning. Truthfully, if the alarm had been even a half a minute later, we may have simply continued sleeping… like the majority of our animal family.

I cling to the memory of that moment when I realized the alarm I cursed only seconds before for rousing us was saving us, because in that moment I heard the alarm, I heard the crackling, but the house was otherwise silent. No dogs barking. No birds shrieking. No panic. No pain. I cling to the memory of that moment, the silence in the noise that tells me my babies simply didn’t wake up. That they simply continued to sleep. That they never felt the panic. They never felt the pain. Their breathing simply slowed and stopped.

Yesterday I picked up their remains.

The bag was so small.

There was so little left.

Photograph of six tiny vials, each with a name written on it followed by a heart, each containing either fur or feathers, held in place by a cork stopper.

Fire and I are more intimately acquainted now that I ever hoped. It is now as deep a part of me as the blood and water I can’t exist without. I understand more deeply than I would ever want to or would wish for anyone else to. There is soot in my bones. There is ash in my veins. The chemicals of the firefighter’s spray infests my soft tissues.

My world was shattered in a way that I will never recover from, yet I still hold so much gratitude in my heart. As hard as it is to keep breathing, as impossible as it sometimes is to take the next step, I am the “mumther”. And as much as it might have been easier to just keep sleeping, I am grateful for the alarm. It didn’t rouse me soon enough to save most of my family… but it was soon enough that I am still here for the family that remains.

My family dropped in size by a number I struggle to really understand… in an instant. But the kiddo is still here, as are Marnie, Nero, and Tiki. And so when it is so difficult that I don’t know how to keep going, I do anyway. In any given moment all I have to do is take the next breath, so that’s what I do.

I still believe we need fire; our world truly does, both physically and metaphorically… now though? Now I understand the pain that comes before that rebirth.

Before and after: images of me the day before, and the morning of our fire.

2 thoughts on “Fire”

  1. Such terrible heartbreaking news. Cry all that you need to cry, it helps. Life is precious to every living thing and everything is connected in some way. Thank you for sharing this tragedy, it is a reminder of those things that are most important.


  2. I am so deeply sorry for what you and your daughter have gone through. I can understand the comparison to a wildfire. Your landscape has changed. Everything must seem surreal, make footing unsure and even with the knowledge that there will be new growth the absence of the old growth is deeply held in memory has a shifting overlay on a misty reality that is slowly taking form. Tears are part of the healing as rain is to the land. I hope you can where you are in those moments and allow the process the time you need.

    I only know you through your writing but it has shown that you know how to call upon your strengths, you know what is involved in moving forward and how to be resilient while being buffeted by loss. You have shown the strength of persistence balanced with the awareness and ability for self-care.
    I wish you have all the comfort and support you need and I will keep you, your daughter and you pet family in my thoughts and send strength & healing to you both. (((Hugs)))


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