By Terri Windover, Connect Weekly
It’s been over three weeks now since our lives turned from the mundane into the extraordinary. And it took that turn at a hundred miles an hour with no working brakes. Like all of you,+ I went from one of my habitual chores (grocery shopping) to split-second decision making an hour later about what amongst my household possessions I valued highly enough to waste time packing.
Believe you me, it has completely changed my perspective on what I consider “valuable”. We left the fifty thousand dollar boat and focused on pictures, mementos and, of course, underwear because clean underwear is important dammit. If you’ve ever camped for ten days in the back-country and only packed three pairs you know exactly what I mean.
With three kids from 19-24 scattered across town and a spouse out at Albian, my mama bear instincts kicked into high gear. My calls were short and succinct.
“Get home NOW. Gas up on the way to me. We are leaving NOW!”
My family did not hesitate and I am incredibly proud of them. They were strong. They were stoic, and I caught a glimpse of the amazing adults they were becoming.
I saw the best of Fort McMurray those first few days with only a glimmer of selfishness amongst the ocean of selflessness. I was amazed that a town known to be opinionated, stubborn and strong-willed was able to put aside its’ differences and work together for a common good. I saw our strength and our humanity shine in so many ways that inspired me to be better and to try harder.
Of course in time, I have witnessed the selfishness make its’ way back in, mostly through social media. The judgers, the blamers, and the people using our tragedy to critique our leaders that do not align with their political agendas. To them, I say shame on you. I don’t play that game and I’m not buying the t-shirt.
You can literally see the seven stages of grief playing out both amongst your family and friends and across social media. Shock/Disbelief. Denial. Bargaining. Guilt. Anger. Depression. Acceptance/Hope. This is a natural process, but we must be careful not to let ourselves be dragged down too long by the negative stages as they can become all consuming. I am now choosing to focus on acceptance and hope. Searching out the good stories, the happy ending and the stories of good will and brotherhood that abound around us if we only look.
If everything goes as planned I will return with my family on June 2. We are avid backcountry campers and outdoorsmen, so the rough conditions do not stress me out. I am realistic enough to know it will be emotionally charged and visually shocking at times, but I NEED to DO something. It’s who I am. If you are not ready, don’t go. Do not feel guilty. Do not apologize. Do what works for you.
This fire has taken a lot from us, but it has also given us much. A larger purpose. A sense of community. A deeply imbedded strength and the knowledge that we are not alone. It has also showed the world who we truly are and ripped away the seedy façade that so many elsewhere have clung to for so long.
I will see you back home and – together – we will do the work that needs to be done. Just as we always have.
– Article as shown in Connect’s Special Edition – First Issue After the Wildfire – Released May 28, 2016 –