One year ago, the people of Sonoma County went about their day like any other. It was a warm, breezy Sunday. People did what people do without any indication that after the sun set for the night, everything about their lives would change.
I certainly didn't because I made flippant remarks about not coming in any earlier because I was tired of working. Many times in the last year I wish I could go back and not make such a statement. It wouldn't have changed anything but I feel like it was such a dumb thing to say. A moment of allowing a temper tantrum to get the best of me.
I am one of the lucky ones. I emerged on the other side of that month of fires unscathed. I have my home, I have my life still intact, and I am not changed other than the fact that I am a lifelong member of Sonoma County saddened by the devastation and loss that we experienced. My heart broke repeatedly that month but not for the reasons of many others. My heart broke as a spectator who felt helpless at what was happening all around me. I did all I could do, I hunkered down ... and I worked.
I might be a little more anxious at times as was mentioned in yesterday's post. But, I've been an anxiety riddled worrywart for my entire 38+ years on this planet. I have grown as a person in the last year. I am more patient with people, I am not as quick to anger as I used to be. I embrace the blessings in my life and acknowledge my struggles as blessings as well. I've always had this thought in my head that things could be worse than they are and October 2017 really sent that thought home and cemented it for all eternity. Things could always be worse.
That being said, there isn't a single part of me that doesn't wish that we could go back and never have that happen. I wish all of the people affected ... weren't. Homes still standing, lives still being lived. Businesses still where they were, continuing on like any other day ... like they were on the afternoon of October 8th, 2017.
It is often said with the grieving process that it isn't until the first anniversary that you can finally start to feel any sort of healing. Not forgetting, not moving on completely, just that it is the first year is down. Not having lost anything, I don't know if that same thing still applies here. I can only hope for those affected that it is true.
There are homes being rebuilt all over the place, but that doesn't mean that the events of last October will ever be forgotten. I am merely an observer and won't forget what was observed. It probably won't be for dozens of years that people feel any sort of normalcy again. And, who knows if they ever will. Not to sound like a Debbie Downer but emotional scars take far longer to heal. People experienced absolute terror and no amount of house rebuilding and regular life living will ever take that away.
I pray for those still facing their personal battles whether it be still sorting through the red tape of having a home rebuilt, putting the pieces of a fractured life back together, or fighting against emotional battles that may not be outwardly visible to those around them but are not any less real to those having to put up the fight.
We learned last year that we are all members of this Sonoma County community. It seems at times that we have forgotten that lesson. In honor of those we lost and the events of that night, I hope that we can come together and feel like one community again.
I hope wherever you are today, you can find some tiny moments of peace to get you through the memories of a year ago.