Posted by: ritagone | November 21, 2018

Thankful

On Wednesday morning, November 7, a friend’s husband died.  He had been ill off and on for several years, so it was not unexpected, yet for her and their family, it is a personal tragedy.  That’s all I will say about it, because I haven’t asked her permission to say more, nor is it my story to tell.  (I was writing this from Israel, so permission was difficult to obtain.)

On Wednesday night, November 7, a shooter, a disturbed young man, a veteran, killed a number of young people at a local Thousand Oaks establishment where several hundred young adults were gathered to be together to dance and to have fun.  This was a shock to a community deemed one of the nation’s safest cities.  And a tragedy to many families who suffered the loss of a loved one or a friend.  When we awoke to this news Thursday morning, it changed our lives forever.  We were reeling with emotion and feeling all kinds of things in the wake of this event.

While on a 13-hour flight to Tel Aviv, Israel, on Thursday, November 8, blissfully ignorant of what was going on in the Thousand Oaks area where we live, flames were destroying lives once again, not to mention homes.  High winds and dry brush – always a deadly combination – were threatening homes from one end of the Conejo Valley to the other.  As we got texts from family and friends after landing and turning off “airplane mode,” Michael and I were faced with decisions: should we turn around and go home? Because our home was in the line of fire, our house/dog sitter had evacuated with them to a farther away location, and we were constantly being updated as to the danger our house and our neighborhood were in.  It’s extremely frustrating, I learned, to be so far away and feel so helpless when the place where you live and the home you love are in danger, not to mention the people you hold most dear.

As I write this from Israel a few days later, the fire danger is much lower, but winds are predicted to start up again, and that could mean the danger level rises once more.  So this story is not over; it may be by the time this is posted, or it may not.  Surely those who are devastated by the tragedies mentioned know in their lives that it’s not over in a day or two but will take months and perhaps years – if ever – to at least regain some semblance of normalcy once again.

So there’s personal tragedy, losing a spouse after a long and arduous illness.  Terrible, terrible grief.  And an adjustment to a “new normal” of widowhood and being alone in life.

Then there’s the tragedy of a shooter walking into a club where people are having a fun evening and taking everything away from them in a flash, a few minutes of noise and chaos and fear.  Lives forever changed or impacted by one person’s inability to get help, to cope with whatever demons drove him to this act of insanity.

And then there’s the act of nature, fires that move without emotion or reason and burn whatever is in their path, turned away or stopped only by water and the will of determined fire fighters who are trained to put their lives on the line for the lives and property protection of others.

My community, my friends, my life are touched and changed forever.  When I get home from this trip to Israel, where my Saviour spoke to His followers about loving beyond anything anyone had ever heard of or seen before, I pray that I may do what He asks me to do with a willing and obedient heart.  And I hope to share with all of you reading this some of the amazing truths and insights I’m learning here.

I’m posting this now, this morning, November 21, having come home to blackened hills, the smell of smoke in the air, and ash in the master bathtub where we forgot to close a window.  A tree branch which must have blown down in the high winds and which now sits in our backyard, on our fake grass, so its only crime is being unsightly.  No real permanent damage, nothing that can’t be washed or cleaned up or remedied.  Not so the lives lost in the fires up north, the homes lost both north and around here, the hard work yet to be done to bring life back to a semblance of normalcy.

I’ll tell you more about Israel next week.

For now, I’m just glad I’m home, I’m glad that I have a home, and if you’re reading this, I pray that your Thanksgiving tomorrow is filled with an awareness of just how thankful we should be this year.

 

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Responses

  1. Welcome home, Rita and Michael! So glad you and your property are safe!
    I know Israel was a huge blessing to you and the memories will “keep you warm” this winter!


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