Life as we know it is history. Without warning, a chapter ended and a new one began - no matter if we approved. I've been trying to prepare myself for a new normal from early after the evacuation but I still held on to the hope that everything could return to the home we know and love - we could repair, rebuild and move on. Which we can and will do, but it won't be the same. I'm having a hard time with that.
I went to the city council meeting this week and felt like the bubble had burst on all that I had hoped for my community. The landscape is going to look vastly, achingly different. Entire neighbourhoods will remain in ruins for an undetermined length of time. Friends will move away. Businesses will close. The bubble burst because I realized that my hopes looked more like naivety. There are many unknowns and an endless mountain of questions - many steeped in fear. There's too much devastation, too much destruction, too much loss, and too much trauma for life to go back to how it was before the wildfire.
The unknown is nerve-racking. It's terrifying to be forced to reevaluate your hopes, plans and dreams. To be suddenly ripped away from all of that you know causes a new sort of heartache that I have not quite experienced before. How do I fend off disappointment and embrace an optimistic expectancy instead?
The good news is that these tough times can also change us for the better. And I will absolutely cling to that hope. I was particularly fond of my cozy cocoon and I'm mourning all the changes right now. It's too much to take in. But... bit by bit, we can help one another to get back up and start anew. When I think that way, it actually sparks a little bit of anticipation over what could be. It's a bizarre balance of preparing oneself for how hard it's going to be and being wonderfully hopeful about the future.
"Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have." - John Piper
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another." Romans 12:15-16
One of the most profound things to me, thus far, is how homesick so many of us have been. Even if we took it for granted, we miss home - the familiarity of our neighbourhood and the routine of everyday life. We all felt it from the moment we were given the evacuation notice. We long to be together - we long to help and lift one another up - we long to be re-connected. We mourn and grieve together, despite our individual experiences and circumstances. We desire to come alongside one another to create a community that is stronger and better than it was before. I hope that desire does not fizzle and fade in the coming weeks.
We may be disconnected now, jostled about in a season of uncertainty, but we will come together again. And even though our bubble of familiarity has burst, and we fear what further hardships are to come, I cling to the hope that there could be something better and more beautiful on the horizon. I suspect we'll look back on this crisis with many stories to tell, much wisdom to share, and a testimony about what community is truly about. As heartbroken as I am for all that I have known to be Fort McMurray, I am curious about what we will become in the months and years ahead of us.
I bet it'll be rather exceptional.