About one year ago the Mountain Shadows neighborhood in Colorado Springs, Colorado became engulfed in flames as a wildfire, driven by high winds and higher temperatures, descended from a ridge above the community I wrote a lot about that fire as I listened and watched my parents home be overtaken by the fire. It didn’t just burn an ashy residue over the roof, or take on the outer perimeter and leave the insides. It took over the house and the hundreds of homes around it with such heat that glass table tops melted into the ground and two story residences were leveled. A couple of weeks later, driving through the neighborhood, an eerie feeling of loss came out of what was once a community of families with kids that rode bikes around cul-de-sacs and neighbors that talked across decks. All that was left was grey ashy streets and fallen trees.
Last night I found out that another fire, on the other side of Colorado Springs in the Black Forest area, had started up. This time my dad and step-mom were evacuated and we have watched as acreage increased, calls for help rang out and the neighbors of those finding themselves displaced stood up to aide in any way they could. I have talked to my dad on the phone and recalled that sinking feeling that comes with the knowledge that predictions about weather, wind direction and containment mean little in the face of Mother Nature. It is a terrible sense of loss remembered and fear of what could come.
But more than that, my eyes fill with tears of gratitude. My friends in Colorado Springs do not hesitate to post needs on Facebook and to respond where they can. The firefighters still fight for long days and nights and the community still rushes to donate Gatorade, socks, protein bars and prayers. I still have a measure of love for and thankfulness for those that fight and those that rise up to connect with their communities that is deeper than most emotions. There is nothing like knowing that someone is walking with you and holding your hand when you go through uncertainty and loss. There is nothing like seeing the beauty of community in trial. I am so proud of Colorado. Again.