Our Marshall Fire Experience in Louisville

We lost our Louisville home in the Marshall Fire, 12-30-2021

Since I couldn't sleep, I wrote down my thoughts about the experience. Perhaps others of you can relate...

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It’s 3am, Saturday, and I’m wearing the same clothes I had on when I fled my Louisville home two days ago as flames and smoke bore down on us from the north, the west, and the south. I have little else to wear.

 

We moved into our Louisville neighborhood 30 years ago, into one of only four homes that existed in a rolling pastureland southeast of Boulder. Three of those homes are still occupied by original owners, all good friends of ours, now. Additional homes were built. New neighbors, new friends. As a tightly knit community, we’ve celebrated births, holidays, graduations, retirements, and weddings together. We’ve endured hail, floods, and two years of pandemic together. Now we’ve experienced fire together.

 

Tomorrow we will gather in our cul-de-sac and talk about our future together, or sadly, perhaps apart.

 

I’ve passed through a bewildering variety of states and experienced an entire spectrum of emotions in the last forty-eight hours: concern, disbelief, excitement, dawning awareness, panic, anticipation, fear, anger, loss, frustration, despair, and resolve.

 

I sit here, jerked awake at the witching hour by another moment of panic, still smelling of smoke. I realize I’m the proud owner of a square concrete hole in the ground filled with dust, ash, twisted metal, and memories.

 

Tears come. I remember:

 

We evacuate on Thursday afternoon to my daughter’s house in Denver. Our son is on the phone. My brother. We had all just Zoomed together on Christmas Day. We spend every waking moment texting and emailing, hungry for the newsfeed playing before us. Video from South Boulder Road, hillsides to the south of Superior, Avista hospital, and Harper Lake, a place I walk nearly every evening. A place I know intimately. What of the geese?

 

As awareness of the devastation begins to spread, so many friends, family members, and colleagues offer so much. I tell them, and I believe, that this is a liberating opportunity. A chance to revisit the many decisions and choices that brought me here. A chance to pick a new path. I ask myself how it can be an opportunity when it throws me to the ground and seems to offer no quarter. But it is.

 

As for that new path? Fewer things, I guess, as a start. Everything I own fits in my Subaru now. Every. Single. Thing.

 

Flashes of objects I should have grabbed in the mad rush haunt me: heirlooms, paintings, drawings, tools my dad crafted by hand. My guitar. Scribbles created by my young children. It hurts. Terribly.

 

Still, there are things we have done; things we have created, written, and sung; food we have cooked and shared; music we have performed. Our laughter. Our tears. Parts of us are out there in the world, parts of other persons’ lives now. Not burned away. There is solace in that.

 

Now, my wife Debbie and I need to find a place to stay while we figure out how, and what, to rebuild. A home better aligned to a 2022 version of us. Simpler. Smaller. Fewer stairs. Fewer bedrooms. More windows on the south side. A roof better angled for solar panels. More shop space. A deck outside where we can sit and chat with our neighbors and friends on a gorgeous Colorado day. Better fire-resistance.

 

We are tough, we Coloradans. We folk of Louisville. We neighbors of Larkspur Court. We do things and we care deeply: About each other. About our environment. About fairness and honesty.

 

We will get through this, each of us, good friends. But that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt. Please stay close.

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