Updated: Jan 19, 2019
I am not much into watching the local 11:00 news because some time ago I made a conscious decision to engage in self-care instead of listening to depressing information and it making its way into my subconscious before sleep. However, when I wake up in the morning I enjoy my cup of coffee while watching a bit of CNN even though we all know that can be clearly a bit depressing as well.
But it was on this morning I heard “shooting in Thousand Oaks, CA,” and was suddenly met with a tidal wave of overwhelming emotions. As I listened with every fiber of my being, my heart was broken. I began to cry when I heard that many students from Pepperdine and Cal Lutheran were shot because now this did not only hit home being this mass shooting was so close to home, but I have a college age daughter and couldn’t help but be deeply filled this immense pain for these parents. I immediately called my daughter who is away at college to hear her voice and talk about this horrible tragedy. She had not yet heard about it and went into her own fear of being away from home and fearing that if one of these students are not one of her peers, well then for sure someone will know somebody, who will know somebody who was directly affected, because that is how it is when you are raised in a small community. The day went on but my head kept spinning, my heart kept hurting, and I was having difficulty staying focused. I had difficulty leaving the unfolding and “breaking news” on television.
It was sometime that morning that I received the local Malibu alert providing notification of an upcoming wind advisory. I didn’t pay much attention until later that afternoon, after I had been fixated on the news on and off throughout the day, that I received another local cell phone alert that there was a fire in the same area of the shooting the prior evening. I couldn’t help but think about the possibility of the fire making its way to Malibu. I was also thinking about the strange chance that this fire began in similar proximity to the shooting the prior evening. Either way, this dreadful day continued as this fire went on to spread and there was no containment. This is when I lost track of the day and time and it all began to run together.
My memory picks up again the next morning when I awoke to a power outage and a closed portion of the 101 freeway. The wind was indeed blowing and the smell of fire filled the air. I became filled with worry because now there was no access to any news via TV or Internet. I asked my neighbor for an update as I saw him walking to his car with a packed suitcase. He said, “there is a fire and all I know is that when they come and say it is time to evacuate, I am going to get the hell out of here.” It was then that I walked down to PCH to see what was going on only to see bumper-to-bumper traffic. On this day the traffic was like nothing I have ever seen before. It was no ordinary PCH traffic; instead this was a backup that was driven by fear. I looked to the right only to see a huge plume of smoke that literally looked similar to what I imagine or have seen on TV, a mushroom nuclear cloud to look like. It was terrifying. No cell service, people panicked and heading out of Malibu. Part of me said oh it is so far so there is no reason to panic and people are simply over-reacting. Another part of me that wanted nothing more to hear my daughter’s voice for fear of not knowing what was next. The morning continued on this way and I turned around to go back home to try and gather more information from neighbors, but it seemed that so many of the neighbors were already gone. It was time to evacuate.
Ok now that a decision was made it was onto the next dilemma, what do I take with me? What would my daughter want me to take since she is not here to make that decision? What if I forget something of important value? What if, what if, what if…. So I grabbed what seemed important: boxes of photos, documents, and well, I won’t lie, but I took a bag and filled it with shoes, my beautiful heels I have been collecting for years. In that moment, that seemed to matter. So strange when you actually sit and reflect on all of these moments.
The moments, hours, and days that past became almost more surreal than the one before. Everyday I felt like a zombie who had to make it to the TV first thing in the morning and hour after hour because I felt this continuous urgency to know and this fear of missing anything. Stuck to my cell phone and waiting for those alerts I felt like this horrific nightmare was never going to end.
While I could take the time to share about each day as it passed, I don’t think that is necessary, since so many of us lived it, and some so much worse than others. What I will say is how grateful I was and am to those wonderful people who so graciously opened their door to my dogs and me. Thank you, thank you, and thank you again. I will say though, that I missed so many of the nuances that I didn’t even necessarily think about from the way I make my coffee in the morning, the amount of quiet time I need to unwind and the times I like more stimulation, the walking route I take my dogs on, the friendly hellos in the morning, down to the smell of that particular candle. Finally that day to go home arrived and and what a day it was. However, as we all know, far too many are just coming home to ashes. Each time I think of how grateful I am to be home and back on that routine that at times felt a bit too predictable, I feel a deep sadness to those who lost everything. Please know that you are not alone and together we all move forward. And here at Mindfulpath Inc we are here to meet you where you are at and be there in whatever capacity you need. Especially as the days and weeks pass and so many are back to their routine, please know that for others who are still reliving the fear, pain, and nightmare of it all, we remain with you through this healing process.
All our gratitude and love to all,
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