Juxtaposition: New upon old, suddenly
Houses in this neighborhood are not supposed to burn to the ground.
They don’t burn at all.
This is a nice neighborhood, with nice neighbors and quiet. People walk their dogs and children play. Houses don’t burn. That happens in other neighborhoods. You read about
You aren’t supposed to wake in the middle of the night to a flaming sky, seventy feet in the air, right across the street. You aren’t supposed to run out to your neighbors in pajamas and flip-flops, sans coat, in light snow and wind. Nor stand around helplessly and watch their home burn (with the neighbor who thankfully is not harmed). Watching it burn. To the ground. In about 40 minutes.
To the ground. To ashes. The proverbial towering inferno.
We never expect to lose everything we own: clothes, pictures, family treasures, shoes, computers, important files and papers – everything. Every single thing. In 40 minutes’ time. None of the famed “running back” for this or that, as that party question goes. How does it feel to take our one last look?
I’m not sure what to mourn the most. The decades of family pictures? I think it would take days to even fathom the multitude of losses. Family and friends would gather round. Support and assistance would be offered. In stark contrast to the plight of those abroad who left their homes with only what they could carry, perhaps never to return. Or those whose homes were destroyed just as finally as that of my neighbor.
I have seen before-and-after pictures online of the eastern towns which have been destroyed. Very much like my neighbor’s fire - gone in an instant. I cannot imagine experiencing that; cannot get my mind around it as they say. Entire neighborhoods share the fate. They are glad to be alive perhaps, though
many having lost relatives and friends. I see their faces in the news. They are like me and my children. How do they walk two or three hundred miles, carrying their dear traumatized children?
It is said that where there is tragedy, there is goodness and hope. Heartening stories follow – of supplies shared and welcome extended. Needs being met. They march on, hoping, to a better life. Reactions of others are mixed and complex. Emotions run the gamut.
There are the heroes.
Sakena Yacoobi of Afghanistan is a hero. Her story is on TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/sakena_yacoobi_how_i_stopped_the_taliban_from_shutting_down_my_school
Her neighborhood also was destroyed. She described it prior as:
". . . a beautiful country, beautiful, peaceful country. . . Women were getting education: lawyer, engineer, teacher, and we were going from house to house. We never locked our doors. But you know what happened to my country. Today, people cannot walk out of their door without security issues. But we want the same Afghanistan we had before.And I want to tell you the other side. Today, the women of Afghanistan are working very, very hard. They are earning degrees. They are training to be lawyers. They are training to be doctors, back again. They are training to be teachers, and they are running businesses. So it is so wonderful to see people like that reach their complete potential, and all of this is going to happen.
Houses in this neighborhood aren’t supposed to burn.
Neighborhoods aren't supposed to blow to ruins.
May hope, goodness and peace win in the end.