I am washing my face before bed
while a country is on fire
It feels dumb to wash my face
and dumb not to
It has never been this way and it has
always been this way
Someone has always clinked a cocktail glass in one hemisphere as someone loses a house in another, while someone falls in love in the same apartment building where someone grieves. The fact that suffering, mundanity and beauty coincide is unbearable and remarkable.
by Mari Andrew
These words found their way to me last week, the day after the fires hit our beautiful city. I can't get them out of my head. They have been percolating there ever since. It was a strange feeling crawling into my bed last Friday night, knowing that so very many in my city, just blocks away from where I was, were not laying their heads on their own pillows that night.
It's such a helpless feeling, touched with a twinge of guilt, when so many are suffering and you're okay.
I'd experienced a similar feeling the week before. Our sweet Dad - aka Papa - had had a heart attack back in mid-July, after a morning of huckleberry picking nonetheless! He was taken to the hospital and while there, received the most amazing care for the next few weeks as we awaited surgery to repair his heart. He received a quadruple bypass and is now back home, safe in the Kootenays, recovering like a trooper! There are no words to describe the gratitude that I feel for the way that this all unfolded... the fact that he got a nudge that day and not a 2x4, that he was so well cared for, that he came through this surgery and is now on his way to a full recovery. That we have so many more years left with our Papa!
And there it was again, that feeling of such gratitude, mixed with a twinge of something else. That knowing that as our family celebrates the successful outcome and recovery of our dear Dad, another - just a few beds away - mourns the loss of theirs. A new friend that didn't make it back home.
The fact that this suffering, mundanity and beauty coincide is indeed unbearable and remarkable.
In this past week, we have been witness to the beauty that comes in the wake of suffering. We have watched our entire community come together as we support one another, care for one another, love one another. We have watched everyone jump to action to help wherever they could, watched as organizations had to turn away too much help and too much food from everyone wanting to help, all feeling helpless and sad and relieved and grateful. We have watched firefighters from all across BC (and beyond) gather in our city to help fight this fire. I have found this all so beautiful and awe-inspiring.
We know that we are not out of the woods yet. The impacts of such an invasive surgery on the body are tremendous, as are the impacts of such devastation and loss on our cities. Our Dad will be in recovery mode for a long time to come... as will our city. We know, as well, that on the other side of suffering and loss and old ways of being come new beginnings, new growth and new understandings. It is so hard to remember this when we are engulfed in the situation (or the literal smoke!), but it has always been this way, and it will always be this way.
As I lay my head on my pillow tonight, I will feel deep gratitude. For the firefighters from all over still fighting this fire to keep us all safe, for my beautiful family and modern medicine, for a community that bands together in difficult times, and for blue skies, fresh air and sunshine again tomorrow.
xo lori ann