Raining Ashes

We are having a cloudy and rainy day today in the midst of a heat wave, but that is not as pleasant as it sounds. The clouds are huge billows of smoke that blot out the sun, and the rain is not water but ash falling from those murky skies. Not many ashes, not yet, but the current brush fire, which blocks a major north-south highway is just a few hours old,.

fireMy sinuses finally cleared up after the last horrific smoke cloud that settled over town, and already, I can feel the pressure building. I can’t even imagine the pressure the firefighters are feeling, especially since two of them have succumbed to smoke inhalation. Luckily, I don’t have to drive the highway, but thousands do, and they are currently stranded.

California is burning. Louisiana is flooding. It seems weird that two such opposite hells can exist at the same time, not even two thousand miles apart.

Having driven that distance, I know how far it is, but on my map, it is but a scant few inches. Shouldn’t there be a way of sluicing all the excess water to places that need it? In my mind, I fold the map so that Louisiana lays on top of California, letting the flood waters drain to better use. But as miraculous and powerful as thoughts might be, this image changes nothing.

My feet hurt from doing too many échappés in ballet class, but that is a good feeling compared to the suffering so many others are experiencing today. Which makes me wonder: Is it wrong to give thanks for one’s own safety when so many others have lost everything?

Safe passages to all of you.


(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

6 Responses to “Raining Ashes”

  1. leesis Says:

    I think its only wrong Pat if we don’t help those in strife to the best of our ability

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Good point. I’ll think about that the next time I worry that being grateful sounds like smugness or arrogance, that I’m lifting myself up on the shoulders of those bent in pain.

      • leesis Says:

        yeah it’s a funny thing. I am constantly grateful for all of my life but always aware, even when life is terribly unpleasant for me, of just how horrid it is for others. Sometimes when I send loving thoughts to those in my life I suddenly wonder why those in my life are any more important than everyone else and then add ‘everyone else’ to my thoughts.

        I think our uncomfortability with this is similar to survivors guilt. But I also think that our reaction is important for it should lead us in our gratefulness to reach out our hands to those suffering. The fact that you are grateful is a cool thing and isn’t about arrogance or smugness. Arrogant smug folks don’t feel grateful; they feel entitled and as such don’t reach out to give others a hand up.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          It’s probably worse not to be grateful, now that I think of it. Why shouldn’t we give thanks for a gift?but a touch of humility with the thanks would be necessary. 

          I hate books where the author kills dozens of folk instead of the hero. It gies to show the hero’s importance, but I always wonder about the folks that were killed. Their lives are just as important. Or in real life, when people grieve for “important” folks but not the unknowns. I know you can’t grieve for everyone, but to draw lines between the important and unimportant irks me. Everyone is important.

  2. Constanc Says:

    On Tuesday the day that the fire started, I was in San Dimas, when I got a call from my husband telling me the Cajon Pass was closed. I wondered what I was going to do. Could not get a hold of my friend to stay over there. Could not reach my daughter in Big Bear. Decided to go anyway. Took Hwy 10. Good that I did, the 210 jammed. Then, when I got close to where I was to turn off to get to Hwy 38, I was so tired that I stopped at Mc Donald’s in Redlands. Watched a large plane come in low over the parking lot, cross the freeway and go below the trees to try to stop the fire. Amazing!
    At this point, I thought of a direct way I could get home. Head to Palm Springs and turn off on #62 to Yucca Valley, take the 247 Cut off to A.V. Traffic got heavy due to KNX telling everyone to go that way to get to Barstow and Las Vegas. Large Semi-trucks were coming the opposite direction on this narrow 2 Lane Hwy going fast (65). It was bad due to evacuees and people wanting to get home. Took me 5-1/2 to get home. I was in the beginning of the traffic. Started home at 2 PM.
    The ones that I feel for are the people that had to evacuate their homes. So sad! My heart hurts for them.
    We have terrific fire fighters who lay their lives on the line for these people, animals and their homes.

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