I woke up this morning with a huge smile on my face. I mean, my boyfriend just presented a gorgeous engagement ring to me. Things are looking up for me. I finally got the job I have always dreamed of, I can’t complain.
I drove to work super excited about what this last full week at my current job would bring. I want to finish strong and never falter, I thought. Just as was getting lost in my many selfish thoughts, I drove through what seemed like an amber cloud, except this cloud had no end.
It was early in the morning but the sky was dark and haunting.
We had a fire recently so it looked like a bit of deja vu. I thought maybe there was a different explanation, maybe a residual effect of the recent eclipse? I mean, what else could it be?
I kept driving. I decided not to worry. It was much too early on a Monday to worry about anything.
I got to my first stop of the day and my phone started ringing. It was a coworker. He told me to be careful because there was a huge fire in the middle of my usual Monday route. I froze. Another fire? Seriously? When will all of this chaos end?
I went about my day as normal as possible doing my best to avoid the forbidden 91 East freeway. I thought of the most strategic way to get to where I needed to go. It was a success, I encountered very little traffic.
All was well until I got on the 91 West freeway. I couldn’t believe how fluid the freeway was around 3 pm on a holiday. Woohoo! But then I saw it. I saw a huge black cloud of smoke ahead of me. As I approached the cloud, I looked to my left and saw flames much taller than myself taking over the mountain I so often drive next to.
Suddenly traffic didn’t matter, suddenly I didn’t even matter.
I have to admit I admire nature but I am not a tree hugger. No matter what I am or what I am not, I stared straight into the eye of the fire and burst into tears. It was overwhelming. The fire was literally a few feet away from me.
I kept driving and the flames were endless. My tears shed because of all the people who might be affected by this. My tears shed because it hurt to see such beautiful land go up in flames.
I so often take this long strip of nature for granted. I drive next to it often yet think nothing of it. I just expect it to always be there. Today I realized it will not always be there, and even if it is, it was forever changed today.
I called as many loved ones as I could. I told them I loved them. I told them I was safe. I did what I should do every single day regardless of nature’s wrath. This fire reminds me that everything can literally change in a matter of seconds. People have lost all of their memories and sense of safety today.
To all those affected:
My heart breaks with yours. I am sorry you have had to endure such a loss and/or trauma. And while things might seem irreparable right now, remember that your spirit can never be broken. Remember that you are a part of a larger community and that you are and will never be alone. If you need to talk, reach out to me, I am always here to listen. If not me, reach out to your fellow neighbor.
And to the brave responders and volunteers: I am sending you all of my love and strength, thank you for all of your heart, bravery and hard work. You are changing the course of history as we speak.
Today was not the best of days for many, but let’s all make sure to make tomorrow better by letting all those around us know they matter and that we care.
Love Always and Forever,