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Silence.

It can mean quiet joy or unbearable trauma. For me, right now, it’s the latter.

My little 100+ year old house by the creek, beneath the cottonwoods, concealed by ancient fragrant lilacs in the best of spring, when purple iris clustered around the chimney, is gone. Reduced to ashes, along with my elderly dog and cat, by a capricious and cruel wildfire. A wildfire that was impossible to imagine in our little suburb that used to be a mining town, along with hundreds of other houses. All in the span of a few hours.

My ex-Pat lived there, in the first house we bought together, which we still amicably owned together. I remember when I committed to buy it. We’d been married about three months and I couldn’t reach him by phone. Then I asked several co-workers, “Would you be mad if your wife bought a house without asking you?” He wasn’t, of course. It was the first house we looked at. Across the road, unpaved those 30 years ago, from a cow pasture. We lugged our first Christmas tree there home in a snowstorm from a lot where they later built the town hall.

When I left my marriage, I tried to leave the house as intact with my things as possible, trying to create the least amount of disruption for our daughter. So much of my treasured past, along with her entire childhood, vanished in the flames. My great grandmother’s china. My grandmother’s barrister bookcases housing my all-time favorite books. My Mother’s champagne glasses. Decades of my journals. Most of my photographs. My wedding dress. My daughter’s childhood artwork. Her stuffed animals. Her red dragon that was a bubble blower. Her Legos and Yu-Gi-Oh cards. The little books my Mother used to read to her, that were mine when I was a child. My grandmother’s letters to a mysterious beau during World War I that I had been saving to read. A shirt from a beau of my own that he gave me to remember him by, a beau whose heart I sadly broke many years later.

All gone.

We keep thinking of the random things we’ve lost, as we try not to think about the two furry loves that we lost. I want to die myself, and struggle to believe that they didn’t suffer, that the smoke got to them, and not the flames. I am agonizingly desperate for that reassurance. And unspeakably guilty that I could not save them. The worst kind of ‘what if’ and magical thinking.

This is not the first time my heart has been shattered. It likely, poignantly, will not be the last. But the pain is paralyzing. I don’t want to be here anymore. I go into my niece’s powder room and look for something I can cut myself with, just to try to let out the pain, to ease it into something I can bandage. I don’t, of course, and almost hate myself for not doing it, but I don’t. For my daughter. For my husband. For my ex. For my niece and her husband and her almost three-year old son, who have opened their home to her uncle. I don’t want to make them hurt more through my own selfish act.

So I plod on. Days interrupted by wracking sobs and small episodes of abject despair. Dreamless nights with a few snatched hours of sleep. Waking moments when I realize it’s real and the evil pain rushes back in to consume my soul. Nausea that has kept me from eating for two days so far. Dimly reminding myself that it will get better and just not caring. The someday when it will feel better is too far away for me to see or give a damn about.

I know I have not lost everything. But I have lost enough.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/kilbride-family-rebuilding-after-boulder-fire?member=16367209&sharetype=teams&utm_campaign=p_na+share-sheet&utm_medium=sms&utm_source=customer

That chimney is all that is left of my house.

They stayed for quite a while. They’ll be first in line when I figure out where (and how) to set up the salt lick.

Daily gratitudes:
Thunder
Mornings that were made for snuggling under blankets
Outsmarting the smoke detectors
Long baths
Fending off the blues with practical activities

I emerged from the Retreat today to go to the market and the post office. As small a town as we are, we do have a fine post office. And I discovered that Monday is THE time to go to the market. They only seem to stock fresh produce once a week and today’s the day. I was not subjected to the combative little old ladies who would not hesitate to break your ribs to get their hands on a good head of lettuce in the market in Georgetown, Bahamas, but had I gone later in the day, hand-to-hand combat with Valley moms might have been required.

The clouds today were all astir. From the cotton balls poofing above the Retreat, to the mare’s tales swishing above Linger Longer Lane, to the rolling waves at the edges of the Frontier Scenic Byway, they were a melting pot of weather portents all swirling together. My Mother loved clouds…she would have loved today. By sunset, the clouds had all settled into a gray stew (how unromantic) as if all of today’s activity had exhausted them. Now it is night. Now, they sleep.

Daily gratitudes:
Black squirrels
Meeting a neighbor
New tires for Truck
Experimental cooking
That my lungs are starting to acclimate to 7200 feet

A few months back, I tried rebranding the blog. I understood why I tried it, but I’ve come to realize that it didn’t work. It just didn’t work for me. No matter where I am, I am exactly who I am — Seasweetie. I am always a work in progress (or road construction on a Colorado highway – the same thing). Earlier this year, I wrote to a friend that I thought I might be having a midlife crisis. Their response? ‘I’ve known you for 16 years and you’ve thought you were having a midlife crisis the whole time.’ That gave me pause. After much contemplation, I recognize that there is no midlife, because we never know how much time we’re blessed with on the swirling blue ball, and that any crisis is usually something we psych ourselves into.

I’ve long said that the only thing certain in this life is change. “Crisis” seems to emerge when we either don’t want to own our choices (or pretend they never happened) or won’t take the time to examine our lives with a modicum of peace on our shoulder, acknowledging our triumphs, our mistakes, the lies we’ve told ourselves, and the love that drives the life we’ve created for ourselves. Up here in the stillness of the Retreat, I’ve had time to sit with my choices as the sun rises to wake me and as dusk falls on pines, as I listen to the music of the creek at night and the birdsong in the morning. There’s a lot to think about. There’s no particular conclusion to reach. I’m just loving getting to recognize myself in this moment in time, all the while knowing that everything could change tomorrow. All I have is now. And the beautiful anticipation of the future.

What does the future look like for me? I only know a few things, a few plans. I know that the unpacking will continue, as everything in the house — including me — finds its place. I know I’m about to check something off my Bucket List in a few weeks. I know that I’m finding myself, my heart, my courage, my joy, my impishness, my sensuality, my nurturing soul, all of which feel like they’ve been somewhat MIA lately. I know that I still have my depression demon, and that sometimes I can’t quite keep it at bay, so today’s positive post, while sounding a bit Pollyanna-ish, doesn’t preclude the feelings that accompany a visit from that special breed of darkness. But that’s not today.

Today is about peace. And joy. And finding the write words.

Daily gratitudes: (It was BIG DAY for gratitudes!)
Not hitting the stag in the middle of the magic highway this morning.
Seeing A BEAUTIFUL ROUND BROWN BEAR by the side of the magic highway this morning.
Listening to MKL and K’s voices in my head telling me not to stop the truck to get out to get closer to said bear.
Seeing a small herd of antelope (my shamanic cohort) with babies in the dry field this morning.
Making plans for me, my truck, and my camera.
Nice words from someone I respect.
Kenny Chesney’s music.
My house hippo (pictured below).

Come follow me at http://www.writerinthepines.com.

Come visit me at http://www.writerinthepines.com and give a follow.

Today has been heartbreaking.

Dear Bridget,

Thank you for you. For feeling the effects of that long flight of stairs with me. For hugs. For being light about death because it has touched you so often. For sharing my bitching. For laughing with me. For caring.

#yearoflove

A very long time. But let’s try this again, shall we?

Inspired by a fellow blogger, I’m trying the Year of Love. Small love notes to people who make a day special, people whose paths cross mine, even if they are strangers.

Sometimes, you’ll get photos. Sometimes, you’ll get daily quotes. Sometimes, you’ll get daily gratitudes. Like I used to do. The only certainty in life is change, and with change comes wisdom and beautiful surprises.

And so we begin 2019.

A Love Note to Michelle:

As you stood in front of me in the ice slide line, I felt a lovely chilly kinship with you. Two middle-ish aged women, clearly feeling younger than our years, encouraged by our kids to take a short, fast risk. I am grateful to you for acting as my comrade in overcoming our trepidations. We both did it – swooshing through the frozen rainbow tunnel – and both emerged gracefully, proud of overcoming our hesitancy, and having crossed one thing off our respective bucket lists, even though it was a thing we didn’t know we had on them.

XOXOXO

#YearofLove

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The only thing better than baby goats snuggling each other is me snuggling baby goats. We have photographic documentation of that somewhere, courtesy of MKL.

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Berthoud, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” — George Orwell

Daily gratitudes:
Distant thunder
Clean dishes
Snuggly Mr. Man
My Peak Challenge
My new weight bench

 

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