All you wonderful The Memory Smith customers – Please forgive me. In the aftermath of the bush fires I’ve found myself struggling. Thinking that I would be able to get back to my work quicker than has proven to be the case, has surprised me greatly and humbled me beyond words.
Trying to make sense of it all, even with the counselling we all decided we needed, I have no answers as to why I have been so unable to ‘get back to how things were’. Well of course things can never be the way they were. We have lost thousands of mammals, birds, reptiles, and thousands of acres of trees all around us, and that is not easily forgotten. In order to try and move forward I must acknowledge there is deep grief. Trying to understand why I have been unable to honour the work I have promised to do for people has just added to this grief, as I then feel shame for finding it so hard to move forward.
Please forgive me my inability to be as in integrity in communicating with you as I have wanted to be, but have failed in my honouring of you as I would have wished to.
Watching this documentary ‘Black Summer’ “Their survival videos were watched over 53 million times. What happened next?’ https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-03/inside-the-australian-bushfires-crisis/11890458 of other people’s experiences of the bush fires has helped me to understand my own experience mirrored through the eyes of others.
It has also helped me to face the fact that in the heart of our fighting the bush fires we actually did come face to face with our own mortality. My eldest son and I fought the fires together on the upper part of the property, to save his sheds with everything he owns in them, while my husband and younger son fought the fires further down the property saving house, workshop and animals.
When my son and I were each backed into a corner between 3 massive plastic water tanks, only one of which had water in it, and I realised there would be no escape if the fire that raged over the top of us was to chose to take hold of the tanks, I faced the reality that we really could die.
Afterwards my son and I held onto each other in an embrace I will never forget, knowing we had each never experienced anything so frightening in our lives, and that it was only because we fought it together that we survived, and had not lost the sheds.
The first story in this documentary matches our experience, although we have no footage of it as it was far too dangerous to try and film as well as fight the fire. Hearing India & Shaun from the doco saying: “I didn’t really think it was going to turn out as bad as what happened, it was insane. That’s going to stay with me forever, I’m just glad I did stay to help him out.” and “Just to know how my little girl (my son) performed throughout all of that I am so proud of her (him) We’ve experienced something together that makes a special bond between the two of us, there’s no doubt about that.”
During the terrifying fire I also raged and screamed at the fire, shouting at it, like the monster it was, to go away. I was amazed to hear someone else had done the same.
As a woman explains after the fires: “You don’t think clearly, it’s hard to concentrate on things, yeah even having conversations is difficult sometimes”
Simon’s the RFS fire fighter’s story/video is taken directly from our bush fire front, the Hillville bush fire, and watching this video has me in tears. Rainbow Flat is maybe 5km away as the crow flies from our place and untold people lost their homes there, and their RFS station was destroyed.
“Sydney RFS firefighter Simon Adams was having a normal day at work on November 8. He had just ordered a chicken schnitzel for lunch, when he was told to be ready to leave in two minutes. He headed several hours away to Rainbow Flat (Mid North Coast) of NSW where the Hillville bushfire was raging. “The speed and the ferocity of the fire … was three or four times what we’d seen before,” Simon said. Simon was told a resident nearby needed immediate help. “He was in real trouble … he was surrounded by fire and he didn’t know what to do,” Simon said. A daring rescue mission began, which has been seen over 7 million times online.”
“Hell on Earth” the headlines stated and for days on end that was our experience, while without communication or power for over 18 hours. Our daughters, miles away from us, lived through those hours fearing we might be dead. As they said: “This is something you’ll never forget”
Having thought I had a pretty good handle on facing death and dying, after many years of work in this field and the writing of my book ‘The Intimacy of Death and Dying’ I have instead come to understand I am a total novice at this and need to re-mind myself of some very basic wisdom:
* Life is utterly precious & lasts for only a moment of time.
* Life is as valuable for every other creature, plant and the Earth too, so honour them as well.
* Love is the answer – I’m blessed to be loved by family and friends and gifting my love back is vital
* Things my soul came to experience, my art and writing, I am honour bound to give my time to.
* Time is too valuable to waste on ‘us and them – judgmental ways’ we’re all in this together.
* Healthy community & team work is the answer, no-one has ever achieved alone.
* We all leave a Legacy, whether we realise or not, so time to Wake Up and choose a good one.
Thank you for your patience and care.
Special wishes Trypheyna
P.S I wrote the above on 3-2-2020 and ironically exactly 3 months to the day after the fires hit us, 5 days later we have had floods take out the bridge on the council road into our area and it now takes 50 kms to drive what used to take 4 km. You might have to be patient with us in terms of time, and mail once again. What’s the meaning of the phrase ‘It never rains but it pours’? When troubles come they come together!!! Can only laugh and look for what to be grateful for!!
I am very grateful for you wonderful The Memory Smith customers – Thank you for your kindness and patience. It means the world