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Evacuation – The Aftermath by Chris

It’s been a week now since we’ve been home after evacuating because of the wildfires in Oregon.  Life is surreal now.  Our house, and our town, were untouched so it’s hard to imagine that we escaped through clouds of ash, dark skies and toxic air only two weeks ago.  Everything seems normal.  Well, except for the COVID restrictions.  The New Normal.

I find myself going through a classic grief reaction…. I’m angry that the world had the audacity to march on like nothing had happened while our world was in chaos.  Any of you who have lost a loved one knows this feeling.  How can people act so normal when life is anything but?  I just want time to stop so I can process all that has happened to us.

When I look at the local paper, I know that the fires happened, and are still happening.  We have blue skies and sunshine today, with an air quality index in the teens.  We were one of the lucky ones who still had a house to come home to.

The experience has changed us in subtle ways.  We’re both exhausted beyond belief, despite sleeping extra hours every day.  There is a kind of psychic exhaustion, a fatigue that goes to the center of your being, that sets in and won’t let go of you.  We rest and the next day can do a little bit more, then a little bit more, but we’re still far from being the people we were before all this happened.

We still have the dirty laundry we brought home with us, lying in the suitcase, waiting for someone to have enough energy put it into the washer.

Extra snack food we bought for the drive home is piled on the table.  We were so glad to be going home that we drove all 750 miles with stops only for more gas.  Drinking and eating weren’t on our radar.

I know we’re both dehydrated.  Drinking requires standing and walking to the kitchen to fill a glass.  Still too much for us.

Our precious little pugs, Maddie and Digi, freaked out yesterday when we left them alone for an hour to ran a couple of quick errands.  Normally they just sleep where they can keep an eye on the door.  Yesterday they played tug of war with a box that wound up in shreds, then made a point of peeing and leaving a pile on the floor.  They’re both feeling insecure.  They won’t leave Cee’s side.  They’re curled up by her feet as she’s working in her office.

Cee here … We want to feel like this again.

Our twenty year old cat, Freddie, seems to be doing the best.  He has one advantage the rest of us don’t have.  He knows how to ask for what he wants and doesn’t quit asking until he gets it.  He’s very happy and curled up in the sun right now.  That we should all be so wise!

I went back to work on Monday but my boss and a co-worker decided that I needed more time off so they talked me into taking last Friday and tomorrow off.  A four day weekend to rest and relax.

I know life will sort itself out somehow, some time, and I’ll start to feel more connected.  I hope that feeling comes quickly.

Thank you for staying with us during our journey.  It was wonderful to read all of your comments and know so many prayers were protecting us.

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61 replies »

  1. As always, I appreciate the updates. Because I have no idea what you and so may others are going through, your updates help me understand, just a little. Hopes and prayers that you, Cee and the fur babies continue to see improvements both mentally and physically. Hugs! 🥰🤗

    Liked by 4 people

  2. There is so much in today’s world to contribute to the exhaustion – the fires licking at our heels, the concern about Covid and what’s next, the political climate. Hoping you both recover soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Just because you have returned home, doesn’t mean you are home free. So glad your employer realized you needed more time, Chris. Take care of you and Cee and the puppies. God bless Freddie.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I looked up Freddie’s age in human years and he’s 96 and still going strong. He came through all of this better than any of us. More little Maddie, the little black pug, is scared of everything right now. Someone (probably Freddie) put a cat toy in her bed and she was doing her scared bark at it. She’s not dealing well with unexpected things. But them I’m not sure the rest of us are, either. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I understand Chris. Although I didn’t have to travel as far away from home as you did to be safe it did feel surreal to come back home. When we reopened our Op Shop I talked to many customers who all said that they had a hard time getting over the fear that we all felt. Some people didn’t sleep. Our town lost three or four houses but as the fires were burning in the nearby forests we saw the firefighters going out to the firegrounds every day. I would see them drive past my house each morning.We still saw the water bombers going to and from the fires. I found myself running outside whenever I heard a helicopter or light plane overhead. Sometimes we heard the boom of an exploding tree as the firefighters took out the ones most likely to fall. I think it was three months before the Riveaux Road fire as it became known was out and it was just a few months ago before the Tahune Airwalk, a forest tour attraction near Geeveston was reopened. Ironically it closed about a month later due to Covid 19. I think it has reopened now.
    I believe that Cindy suffered the most from our evacuation. She was used to being left at home when I went out before although she always cried a bit but I believe that her separation anxiety has grown much worse since that time. She cries if I go downstairs without her (they are too steep for her) and she barks and howls for hours if I go out.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Poor Cindy. I can appreciate her anxiety. We didn’t hear the helicopters overhead like you did, but it was hard to miss how close the fires were when everything you saw was colored red. It was an amazing experience.
      Cee’s sister and brother who put us up drove through The Mt St Helens eruptiion back in 1980 when they were traveling from Seattle to Idaho, so they understood what it was like to drive through falling ash and leaden skies. When they said “come stay with us” we jumped at the chance. Bless them!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for this very honest update. I think it is normal and healthy to be having the reaction you are having. I wish you and Cee all the best and you have been on my prayer wheel for the last two weeks. I will keep you both on for a bit longer just for time to settle.

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  6. I can’t hit the ‘like’ button because this is oh so sad. I’m hoping your longer weekend helps, but I am afraid that some bits of this will stay with you all, always. Hugs to the whole crew.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Stay strong and rest rest rest. Thanks for keeping my part of the world updated. Yes I am approaching twelve months since my devastating fires and the depression and anxiety have almost gone. Sending love 💕

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Cee & Chris, it is good to hear that you are honoring your bodies in light of this traumatic event. Please continue to be gentle with yourselves and your fur babies as long as it takes. The Universe is behind you 100%. Blessings to you & your little family. 🌞💛🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Rest when you can. The main feeling I remember through grief is exhaustion – and oh yes – that sense of detachment from all those people carrying on as ‘normal’. Time, rest and being gentle with yourselves seem to be the only way through it – ‘you can’t push the river’. Sounds like you are both going with the flow as much as possible. Much love and hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. So sorry for all you and Cee have been through, Chris. You are so right! It is easy for those of us who have not experienced it to quickly forget what others are still going through and move on with our own lives. Thank you for the reminder. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for keeping us posted. By writing you bear witness to what is happening. It must be a terrible thing to live through, especially in this time of uncertainty and political division. I was very touched that you both evidently thought about making us feel better and am so glad that you have each other to lean on.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Happy you’re home, what you described reminds me of when the hurricanes hit us. It’s a weird feeling after they pass and the sun is out, but so much damage. Wishing you all the best, thanks for the updates


  13. I’m glad to read that you made it through unscathed (well, at least on the outside). Now make sure that both of you get the rest you need. Take care!


  14. Such a traumatic and emotionally taxing time. It does take time to recover and process it all, and to allow yourself that time. I am glad the skies are blue- it helps when the sun is shining. Take care, take it slow. Thinking of you both. ❤


  15. I just cannot imagine the pain and worry you have gone through. I suppose it is similar to the derecho that hit here this summer. Such devastation in some areas and it was surreal how we had little damage here. I am glad you are slowly but surely getting better. This was a major emotional event… don’t try to rush it. Peace will come in time. (((HUGS)))


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