Wildfire and trauma

I have been a student of the psychological affects of trauma ever since I performed my counseling internship at a rehab hospital in 1994. There I had the opportunity to treat those who had lost limbs in accidents, suffered devastating strokes, and life-changing sepsis. But it is somehow quite different to experience your own life-changing emergency. How has this experience changed me?

slab and framing of comanche drive

First of all, I will never forget that one last look at our brand new home as we drove away possibly for the last time. As smoke billowed above our home and ash started falling down on us, we left with two cars full of a crazy mix of things plus a cat and a dog, not even knowing where we were going.

We were so lucky that a dear friend in La Veta took us in and La Veta did not have to be evacuated. I now call our week in La Veta our emergency slumber party, because Cheryle made it as fun for us as she could.

By Tuesday I was totally stressed watching the mountains west of our home burn. I could only reassure myself that the firefighters would hold the line at County Road 520, which they ultimately did.

The next memorable moment was the evening of the 4th of July when it finally cooled down a little in La Veta and even rained a tiny bit. It felt so good out on the back porch doing our own version of a rain dance, as the TV rang out with patriotic music and fireworks.

But the real fire stopper was the gigantic rain we had up at Cuchara and here in La Veta on the evening of July 5th.  I have now learned from firefighters that that extra inch of rain saved both Pinehaven and Cuchara. Mother Nature comes through BIG TIME and saves the day!

In retrospect, I suffered some trauma. I will have dreams in the future about losing everything so soon after building it to perfection. There are many among us who have lost so much.

Please do not minimize or belittle the suffering of those in our community no matter what they have experienced. One thing I know about trauma, it so often brings up previous losses in extremely unpredictable ways. Respect the feelings of everyone you meet. If they are suffering, it is real for them.

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