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Day 1450 - Perspective

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Sunday, November 18, 2018

UPDATE: Another friend found the original message and the author, Krystalynn Martin, who wrote the poem for her blog Legit Faith: legitfaith.wordpress.com
/2018/11/16/please-excuse-
the-smoke/


The Camp Fire that consumed the community of Paradise, California, 10 days ago is still burning. It is nearly 150,000 acres and as of this morning, only 60% contained. Encouraging, but it's not over yet. The fire burned so hot and so quickly that many people were unable to escape. So far there are over 70 fatalities in the California fires this month with over 1,000 people unaccounted for.

The smoke from the fire has blanketed much of Northern California from Sacramento to San Francisco and up the coast. Air quality has been so bad that we had to cancel classes Thursday and Friday, and we are still unsure about tomorrow and the rest of the short week before Thanksgiving. Many people have complained about the air quality (and with good reason) because it hampers our ability to do things outside and the health hazards could be long-lasting, especially for young people.

Then I saw this post on Facebook last night, and remembered that there is always another perspective that we must remember. It reminds me of the old proverb, "I complained that I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet."

This was posted by someone named Veronica Wilkins. It really touched me. This is what Veronica wrote:

"To all my Facebook friends & family, this the most beautiful explanation of the Camp Fire in California... this is my backyard. A county I have called home for my whole life ❤️

~ Author unknown. ~

'I’m sorry - Please excuse the smoke.
It’s just the dreams and hopes of 27 thousand yesterdays.
It’s just the minuscule evidence of
That one baby picture,
That painting of the sea captain by my brother,
And those family portraits of the past 40 years.
It’s just the piano from my grandmother who passed away years ago that my brother just brought back from Iowa.

Excuse the hazardous air quality.
It’s just the thousands of saved kid’s drawings and crafts, books, children’s toys from years gone by that had been unpacked for grandchildren, wedding certificates, diaries, the favorite pillows, that favorite teddy bear from baby years, the 1960s records and the VHS tapes of birthday parties and graduations.

It’s just the houses of my childhood friends where we would play in the late summer evenings and spend nights dreaming of what our grownup years would bring. Not knowing that our futures would all hold this moment in time as our collective yesterdays ascend to the sky.

Please excuse the falling ash.
It’s just the church where I grew up attending with all the children’s songs, VBS programs and the baptismal where I chose to dedicate my life to God. It’s just the aisle where I stood and looked at the man on the day that I said “I Do”.

The falling ash - It’s just Paradise.
A little non-destination town that’s not on the way to anything important. It’s just that end-of-the-road town where people settle and know each other and roots run deep. It’s just a place where the biggest news was that Taco Bell came to town 20 years ago - until Starbucks finally made it 4 months ago.

Paradise - it’s just the place where everyone is your neighbor, as backyards are shared and simple icons are known and loved. Icons that are now ashes falling around you (sorry about that).
Icons like Fosters Freeze.
Gold Nugget Days.
Honey Run Road Covered Bridge.
That one antique store, just to name a few.
Icons like Kalico Kitchen where my dad and I had breakfast on the day of my wedding, just the two of us.
Icons like Darlene’s Frozen Yogurt and Round Table Pizza where many birthday parties growing up took place, not to mention the take home pizzas to mom and dad on weekends we would visit.
Personal icons like the Lucas’s house where many days and nights were spent as we grew up from toddlers, to grade school, to junior high, taking care of animals, watching movies, going trick-r-treating, and discovering our first crushes together.
Icons like the Muth house, where we made brownies and talked about boys and got ready for banquets and wrote songs, and led out in different high school student leadership opportunities.
Icons like the youth room at the church where we discovered so many amazing things together and planned mission trips and prayer conferences and learned what it meant to be used by God right here and right now.
Icons like Rincon Way house where we would watch different phases of our family’s life every year as we gathered for potlucks, game nights or just hear some good music.
Or Country Club where huge gatherings would take place like the 4th of July party for the neighborhood, or just coming together for brunch, or talking about religion and politics.
Or Peterson’s house where we would eat the most delicious Swedish treats and have a visit from Santa.
Or all the houses around town that we lived in since age 2, (that are now all gone) and finally settling on what would become home: Boquest Blvd. Boquest, where breakfast was late, like nights, and eras of my life passed within those 4 walls - from preteen, to high school, and as the walls of my room changed their decor as they held my changing eras like a quiet, constant friend. The early mornings getting ready for school, the late nights studying or dreaming of tomorrows that are now todays. The Christmas eves and mornings where my brother would wake me up to go open our stockings. The night I spent in that room with my sister before the day of my wedding, our conversations waning into the early morning. The years and eras fleeting now in hindsight, as most recently these four walls had been a refuge for my aging parents. And not knowing that 1 month ago would be my final farewell to my constant silent friend - my room - where I spent a few nights with my infant son as we cherished time with family.
Icons like Billie Park where I would go on hikes with my friends as a preteen and teen, and then later take my hubby as we dreamt of the future, and then most recently would take my own 2 children to play and romp and just be...in Paradise.

... And not to mention all the lives that were lost: mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, grandparents, beloved pets ...

But please, once again, excuse our smoke.
It’s just what’s left of what was one of the most unique little settlements in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains: what was Paradise.'"
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • CATHYSFITLIFE
    I'm sorry I missed seeing your blog. It was/is a beautiful and heartbreaking message. I can only imagine what all of those poor people are dealing with. So much loss and sadness that most people will never truly understand. I don't suppose they have much to be thankful for this time of year except to maybe be alive. My heart goes out to all that were impacted by the fire.
    767 days ago
  • MARITIMER3
    Thank you so much for sharing this. Even though I’ve never visited Paradise, I can see it more clearly now.
    774 days ago
  • ANNIEONLI
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    784 days ago
  • PICKIE98
    When I worked the oncology floor, I learned so quickly how things can change in a heartbeat, literally. I loved the patients and loved to be there when they left to go home. It was a deep privilege.

    We are sent tests and trials. It is not ,"Why me?", it should always be "Why NOT me?". Everyone is equal and not above loss and pain, as well as joy.
    786 days ago
  • FLORIDASUN
    This beautiful blog tore at my heart! I've lost many things in my life but the finality of the devastation from this roaring fire is so frightening. One moment you are living and the next moment you are fleeing holy hell itself with no notice on gathering up your precious belongings or worse yet.. you are gone...just gone.

    I have no words...just lots and lots of prayers! emoticon
    787 days ago
  • PICKIE98
    Have a healthy week: less smoke?
    788 days ago
  • TCANNO
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    790 days ago
  • JSTETSER
    You have put the campfire disaster into a new perspective for me.
    Thank you.
    790 days ago
  • LOVELYSPIRIT16
    So sad and while we think that our own trouble are bad or difficult to deal with I can not even imagine what all of the Californians must feel. This was so well written and puts things in a proper perspective. I have always thought of what we would need to save first if we were to ever have a natural disaster hit us we we live on a major earthquake fault line for all of my life. After reading this and Morticia's comments it would be each other and our memories. Even with my memory slowly struggling I have far more memories than I thought. Today I am thankful for those memories even painful ones.

    My prayers reach out to all who are without their families, homes and pets this Thanksgiving. I really do pray often that those fires are contained and a solution for this not happening again. All lives are important!

    We are so glad that you and yours are safe and doing okay.

    God bless all that are working on those fires or have worked on containing them.
    791 days ago
  • DONNALEE-53
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    793 days ago
  • FITNIK2020
    Bravo on being featured here on Spark. Let’s hope the rain comes soon.
    793 days ago
  • OBIESMOM2
    emoticon I'm glad you guys are okay.

    I cannot imagine what those in the fire's path continue to deal with.

    continued prayers

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    793 days ago
  • 1DAY-ATA-TIME
    Such a beautiful and heartfelt message. So sad, so tragic. I can empathize to a degree but I cannot know or feel what she and many others are going through. I have witness a few natural disasters, (hurricanes and floods) but it so hard to fathom this devastation of the Camp Fire. I don't know if thoughts and prayers are enough, I just don't know.
    793 days ago
  • HDEGMD
    Spot on Steve.. Love you, Pat
    794 days ago
  • PICKIE98
    Kristy read that the loss is now at least 80 people in the fire. I wish we could shoot some of this snow and water over to you.
    Still lifting prayers for all...
    794 days ago
  • KRISZTA11
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem, Steve.
    So true, this really puts everything else in perspective.
    I hope air clears soon, and you and others in the area get to go outside freely.
    emoticon
    794 days ago
  • KELLIEBEAN
    Heartbreaking! I keep hoping each morning that there will be good news.

    I'm with all of you in spirit!

    794 days ago
  • SNOOPYLINKOS
    Sad and true. I have a friend who is a fire fighter here in Chicagoland. I shared this with him and those were his 3 word reply, sad and true.
    794 days ago
  • 1CRAZYDOG
    God bless everyone dealing with this life altering tragedy. I have no idea what I'd do if I were in that situation. Prayers.
    795 days ago
  • MORTICIAADDAMS
    I hope that this terrible ordeal serves as a reminder that our country has problems which need to take precedence as lives depend on them. California is too dry. There is too much "kindling" there ready to ignite at any time. Although I don't have any expertise in this area I'm certain that many people do and we need to be picking these individual's brains for possible solutions.

    As a critical care nurse and mobile trauma nurse I was reminded almost daily that life is precious. It was a given that many of my patients would not survive and it was also a given that those we lost would be from all walks of life, all nationalities, all genders, all ages, etc. Bad things happen to good people and we were powerless to prevent it sometimes. As a nurse I tried to always remind myself that everyone we lost was someones child, mother, father, sister, brother, etc. It puts everything in perspective. Along with most of the people of this nation, I mourn the loss of the people from fires in California, just as I mourned the loss of the people who died in the hurricane in Puerto Rico. We need to embrace our loved ones and hold them dear because they can be taken from us at any time.

    I can also empathize with the loss of ones home, their keepsakes of a lifetime, their jobs, their way of life. Those of us who have gone through some of these things know the physical and emotional challenges involved. We also know how to help others to wade through the rubble and come out on the other side more resilient and stronger than ever. All of us will have to breathe smoke at some time. We will suffer huge losses. We will move on and recover because that is what Americans do. We still have our memories and, in my opinion, that is the best keepsake of a life well-lived. We need to help our friends get back on their feet.
    795 days ago
  • JEANKNEE
    I continue to struggle to wrap my mind around the ongoing devastation being experienced. It has been a very rough year. My heart aches for those that have lost so much.
    795 days ago
  • BE-THE-CHANGE
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    795 days ago
  • JUNEAU2010
    I couldn't even finish reading what she posted. Tears. I have friends and coworkers with family in that area.
    795 days ago
  • MOLLIEMAC
    Incredibly sad, difficult to read and I am sure to share with others. We really only have today so must do the best we can with it before it becomes yesterday. emoticon
    795 days ago
  • KITTEHAVENGER
    It's a beautiful but sad reminder of the devastation that nature can bring. Being careful only does so much good. My heart goes out to them.
    795 days ago
  • JUDITHANNIE
    So sad but beautifully written. It made me cry and then pray for all the people in California. Please Steve, stay safe. emoticon emoticon
    795 days ago
  • LIZANDRASHAW
    Such a loss! Stay safe my friend.
    795 days ago
  • ALEXTHEHUN
    It's incomprehensible and overwhelming to contemplate.
    795 days ago
  • FITNIK2020
    A heartfelt description of what is forever lost. The closest we ever had was the ice storm in Eastern Canada. People froze in their homes , roads were impassable, and it lasted a week. The finality here is devastating.
    795 days ago
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