Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why I'm not coping

I'm having a whole lot of trouble dealing with this aftermath of the fires and extreme heat... and I just couldn't figure out why.

And then it hit me first thing this morning.

We went through a horrible wildfire in California back in 1992 - The Old Gulch Fire - and just prior to that point, my daughter had just moved into her own little apartment. But for days, no one could reach her on the phone, lines were down and roads were cut off. I was frantic with worry and I just didn't know where to turn.

We could see the flames cresting the top of the ridge just opposite our property and we watched the pine trees going up like roman candles. I was home alone with my boys because my husband was out working overtime, doing traffic control. After running to the store - which was in the opposite direction from the fire - I spent 30 frantic minutes being blocked from getting home to my boys... until the police officer finally relented when I told him my husband was a California Highway Patrol officer working the top of Hwy 4. Of course, in a small town like that, everyone knew who he was, but that particular officer had been brought in from out of the area, because the police and firefighters were being overwhelmed with the magnitude of what was going on.
Everyone's nerves were shot and we were all just dealing with the threat the best way we could.

I was worried beyond belief for my daughter, and I was as frantic as only a parent - a Mama - can be, but everyone assured me that she was probably just fine, since she lived in town... and the fire was nowhere near where she was living. It would have to come through us, to get to where she was ..and we weren't in any immediate danger at that point.

They finally - after what seemed like a lifetime - managed to get the fires somewhat under control and the electricity and phones had just come back on... so getting in touch with Jenny was my first priority. I just needed to hear her voice and know that she was okay, you know?

I tried calling her at work and her boss said that she hadn't been at work in 2 days and she was now fired for not letting them know that she wouldn't be in.
Of course, I was worried because Jen was a responsible young lady and not going to work, or letting anyone know, was totally out of character for her. So I made further phone calls to her friends and even friends of friends... and eventually I ended up calling her Karate instructor.

I first spoke to his wife, who was evasive as hell and who said " I don't want to seem rude, but I really don't want to talk to you - but I'll get Joel for you". By this point I was absolutely fed up and I handed the phone to my husband and said "you talk to him, because if I do, I'm going to blow my stack." He got on the phone and immediately turned as white as a sheet. Instead of turning and telling me what was going on, he simply wrote something on his notepad and handed the sheet of paper to me.
"Jenny is dead".
And with that, a part of me died.

Joel (the karate instructor) had gone to pick Jenny up for karate class, and had found her door locked, but her window was open and uncovered and when he looked in, he discovered her passed away, lying on her bed. He rang the police who then responded, but some some strange, inexplicable reason, Joel had been told to not tell anyone - including myself and her step-father.

This had all happened at approximately 10 in the morning, yet we were never informed or contacted by the police. It wasn't until I rang Joel at dinner time that I found out what had happened.
I suppose they were treating it all as a crime scene and at the time, they didn't know who the suspects were, but still... the thought that a family friend (the police sargent) could or would make the decision not to tell us, still makes my heart reel.

We eventually found out that Jenny had died in her sleep, due to Orthostatic Intolerance. (the same disease the Greg, the Yellow Wiggle has) But back then, little was known about it. She had had the symptoms, but finding a doctor who could put the clues together was just impossible. We had made the round of doctors and specialists, but no one ever told us, or even hinted to us, that it could be life-threatening. All it took was her coming down with a minor cold... and her poor overworked heart just stopped on her.

I lost my daughter Jenny... blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh, during the Old Gulch fire and I guess the two will always be tied together in my mind and heart.
She was only 17 years old... and this year, it will be 17 years since she went "home" to be with God.
On August 31st, my Jenny will been gone for as many years as I actually had her in my life... and it just seems impossible. I still to this day, can not believe that she's gone.

These fires that we're dealing with here in Victoria, well... I guess that they're bringing back memories and feelings that I thought I had dealt with a long time ago... but obviously, I haven't dealt with them at all.
With every news report, I keep expecting the phone to ring and have someone on the other end tell me something devastating and heartbreaking.

I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Regarding the devastation still going on here and how it ties in to my thoughts and feelings and memories... this was the headline that I woke up to this morning :

Thousands continue search for loved ones
"Thousands of people continue to call the Red Cross hoping to be reunited with loved ones missing in the bushfire crisis.
To date 14,000 people have called the Red Cross in a desperate search for loved ones, with 4,000 seeking information about missing family members on Wednesday alone."

Is it any wonder why my heart is breaking?


jennypilgrim said...

You are in my thoughts and prayers. I wish there was something I could say to make you feel better. I will just pray that God will send peace to you.


Sherri said...

I am so sorry Katie. As I sit here wiping tears from my eyes, I wonder if mentioning the Gulch Fire in my comment in your previous post was a good idea or not. I never did know the details of what happened to Jenny or even when it happened. Only what Josh has told me. I do remember this. I don't remember if I read about in the paper or heard about it through "The Pinecone Telegraph" I love you Katie

Tatersmama said...

Thanks Jenny, your comment means more than you know.


Sherri, Your mentioning the Old Gulch Fire had nothing to do with it. I mean that.
It was the stories of people searching for missing loved ones here - that brought it all back to me.
I love you too Sherri... & I'm so blessed to have you and your family in my life. :-)

Queenie said...

I too have lost a daughter and my heart is breaking for you. In your case it is the fires that brought the memories back with such force but I know from experience that there are other triggers: a sound, a smell, someone's laugh or even the way a stranger walks on a nearby sidewalk, that can suddenly flood your heart with your daughter's spirit. Just focus on how many families have been safely reunited, how many other mothers found their daughter's safe and sound....this time will pass soon. My prayers are with you.

Pam said...

I'm sending prayers and hugs your way.

Narelle Nettelbeck said...

I have never experienced the loss of a child, the thought alone is to painful - I simply can not imagine your pain. I know that God does though and I know He's there to wrap His arms around you and hold you tight.

Praying for you as you struggle with memories triggered by the fires.

Blessings and Love

Treehouse Chef said...

Thank you for sharing your inner most thoughts. The written word has such power to heal both for the author and the reader.

Paula said...

That is a horrible thing to have to go through. I really feel for you. When my daughter first moved out I used to call all the time when storms were coming or the weather was bad to tell them what to do. Keep your chin up and all we can do is pray for those families.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, Tater's Mama. I'm just so sorry. I wish I had the right words, but I don't.

I'm thinking of you.

Neabear said...

I had wondered how is it you had gone from three to one since you mention that in your profile. You answered one of the questions I had. I am so sorry it was so horrible for you. If I was in your shoes, those memories would be flooding back for me too I am sure. Know that I am praying for you to have peace. Take care, Linnea

Robynn's Ravings said...

Oh Katie.

I am crying and rereading and not believing. I just knew you were going to tell us it triggered worry but that you found her and all was well. I can't imagine what you went through, what you still go through. My daughter is 17. It is beyond my comprehension to imagine my life without her.

That you go on and still reach out to others and are so giving is an incredible testimony to you and to God. I am privileged to know you. I so wish there was something effective to say and I know there isn't. I hope knowing how many of us love you and count ourselves blessed to have you in our lives is comforting. But I know nothing can fill the void. I am so sorry. ((((((big hugs to you for a long time)))))) and shared tears.....

rubiesrnotpurple said...

Oh my darling, how absolutely devastating for you. My heart has broken. Take care of you my friend and know that you are in all our thoughts.

Tatersmama said...

Okay (taking a deep breath here) just writing about this has done me a world of good. I really don't think I've spoken of that day in the last 17 years... and it really feels good to sort of "let Jenny go" do you know what I mean?

Your comments and your love and prayers had a lot to do with it too, I'm sure.

Thank you all, so much. :-)

Bz said...

I cannot begin to imagine... I try and just start to get all teary... I can not imagine. I wish I had some sort of words that could... would... ease or lessen... I'm sure there are none that no one can say... I can only say I am so sorry for your loss. There is no love like a mother's love.

SassyDog said...

My daughter is 18 and I can't imagine life without her even tho we have our moments. I am so very sorry for your loss and know that God will get you thru this rough patch. I feel for you and all the others in Australia and the so many animals that have lost their lives. We are all praying for Australia. Much love to you at this time!

Homestay Mama said...

Oh, Tatersmama, I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter 17 years ago. Thank you for being brave enough to share this painful part of your life with us. We are your blogland sisters, and we'll be here for you anytime you need us.


Neas Nuttiness said...

Katie - Words aren't enough, but I'll use them any way...I am so sorry. I wish that I could put my arms around you, and hold you until the hurt goes away

The Old Dairy said...

(((((((((hugs and prayers to you Katie as you deal with your loss and sorrow)))))))))))

P.s I a post the other day about some of the words that come up for the word verification at the end of comments....well the word I have to type in is.....blest.....
Thats how I always feel after reading your posts blest....

Nancy M. said...

I am so sorry! I can't understand what it's like for a parent to lose their child. It's just something that shouldn't happen. I hate that this tragedy is bringing back the memories of that terrible time. {{HUGS}}

Irene said...

Hi Katie
Loving thoughts going to you.

The W.O.W. factor said...

OMG KatieTatie! I am sooo sorry! I cannot imagine losing a child, no matter their age. Life is not supposed to be that way.
Fires scare the daylights out of me...and you've more reason than most, to worry and rekindle sad memories.
My heart goes out to you Sweet Lady.


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