“There are four cars behind us,” R breathed as he glanced into the rearview mirror. We were bumping along the gravel-covered Control Road, eating the dust of the cars rambling ahead of us, leaving behind dust for cars behind us to swallow.
“Will our cabin be safe, papa?” Sophia asked from the back.
R and I looked at each other.
“Probably. It is hard to say. It should be ok.”
About 15 minutes ago, while I was lounging on the couch reading to the girls, whilst trying to dissuade Lyra from exploring beyond the edge of the couch, and R was taking a nap, we heard a siren and a fire-truck stopped in-front of our cabin.
“You need to evacuate RIGHT. NOW.” A voice boomed. R jumped up and threw open the door and we were told a fire had started some five minutes ago and that we were to leave immediately. Do NOT wait.
I grabbed Lyra and put her in the car-seat, as gently as possible and then threw everything into our packing crates at lightning speed, while trying not to shake too much. Sophia and Val quickly stuffed their things into their bags and R ran between the car and house barefeet, loading our worldy possessions and yelling to us to use the bathroom before we leave.
In five minutes we were out. At least three fire trucks passed our way and several other emergency respond vehicles. We looked back and saw thick, dark clouds rising and blooming, an eerie, ominous beauty. The air smelled of trees burning. Our hearts were thumping. I thought of asking the girls to chant a mantra to help them calm down, but thought maybe I should not focus attention over their trauma and just sat. (Interestingly Sophia started to sing Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung soon after, a mantra of healing and the same one I chanted for the 49-day meditation last year for Ferdinand’s anniversary. I guess her innate wisdom and instinct called to her!)
I just started to think, “Please let everyone safe. May all be safe. Please let everyone be safe. May all be safe.”
And as the air in the car slowly started to calm down, I started to hear the voices creeping into my head. One said, “Ferdinand was not safe. He was not safe! He died within you. He was not kept safe. He was not safe. He was not safe. he was NOT safe!!!”
Another tried to say, “He is safe. He is safe right now. He is OK. He is where he wants to be; he is peaceful. He is safe.”
And the two voices just screamed at each other and I tried to adjust the volume controls, I tried to mute but they just went on, so I just left them because my mind started to wander to two years ago… …
About a week after Ferdinand died we had a flood at our cabin. It was no shit. This little creek behind our cabin, that had been barely a trickle for months, suddenly swollen to a raging river over the few days of rain, and strengthened by the rain that came down from the mountains. We watched (in awe,really) as the river rose in minutes, taking our wooden shed with it. Our wooden shed that was filled to the gills with stuff- heavy equipment including two lawnmowers, bicycles and large bags of seeds and fertilizers. We also had to quickly get into our car and drove to high ground.
That time we did not pack everything. We just took water and some food that can be eaten in the car, and I grabbed the box that the hospital had sent me home with. This blue box with his stuff- his footprints, those bracelets he wore, a hat and all those things.
I remember sitting in the car, grabbing onto the box and thinking, “I’ve got you with me.” Except of course, I did not have him with me.
At least, not physically, and I never will.