Sunday, August 29, 2010

Why we remember

Today is the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

I feel a kinship with those in New Orleans, both because of our loss and because our traumas fall within days of one another. I know that there are very stark differences about the hurricane and our fire, but I think on an individual level, the loss of one's home and the struggle to reclaim it is very similar. The natural forces element binds me to that event as well.

I am sure that there are those who are tired of hearing about New Orleans (especially if they listen to NPR). I have to admit to having my limits as well. But I think remembering is important. I assume that we will hear less and less as each year passes with mentions at the major anniversaries.

I will be honest and tell you that the hardest part of last Wednesday wasn't the remembering. It was the being forgotten. Granted, I wasn't sorry to walk out of our house to see TV cameras towering over the power lines. But I still wanted to be remembered, especially by those closest to us.

It's only been two years. Seven hundred thirty days. I'm finally entering a phase of acceptance (probably because of the intensity with which I'm writing about it). But it doesn't mean I've forgotten. Or that I ever will. August 25 will always be a life-changing day for me. And I mean that in the least hyperbolic way. Dan and I might not be in Boise anymore had the fire not occurred. It is likely we wouldn't be living in the old house. It is possible that I wouldn't be sick. So many things changed in those few minutes it took the fire to consume our home. And I will always find time once a year to observe that.

Beyond my own very personal reasons to remember, there are bigger issues involved in remembering. We remember Katrina so that we learn the vast lessons that presented themselves that day. We remember the fire so that we can discuss fire wise policies like land maintenance, ranching rights, fire-safe home construction. We remember the fire so that when a smaller fire happens, there are resources available to help those in need (like the website that I will be developing this fall). We were, in a way, fortunate because of the magnitude of our fire. We had support and resources in a way that others with individual losses don't.

We also remember to heal. Telling our stories is part of that process. If you listen to any of the coverage about Katrina, it's not just a newscaster telling the story. It's those who were there sharing, exploring, discussing. Healing.

I know that for many, it feels like we should "move on." I will never move on and forget. August 25th is the defining day of my life, bigger than my wedding, bigger than Kellen's birth, bigger than my overcoming Lyme disease. And I will always remember.

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