Lindsay Ferrier, at Suburban Turmoil, has blogged her way through her experiences with the Nashville flood and reading her posts has brought back so many memories. My experience in the Cedar Fire was a lot like what Lindsay went through—almost losing our home, but getting lucky; seeing many friends and neighbors lose everything.
I realized I’ve never told the story on this blog—beyond this snippet—and I’ll have to do it someday. It’s quite a story.
The tale I’m going to tell today involves trying to find some way—be it ever so small—to help those whose homes did not escape the firestorm.
We were out of our house for a couple of days (except for my husband—he never left) and when we got back we stumbled around in a daze, shocked at the devastation wrought on our close-knit suburb. We couldn’t stop staring at the Dali-esque sculpture that the fire had forged of our backyard pitch back.
While the south side of our enclave experienced the most houses lost there was a street a few blocks from us on the north side that lost many houses too.
In our quest to do something right then my friend and I loaded the back of the van up with coolers of snacks and drinks and drove up and down that street handing them out to the stunned homeowners sifting through the ashes of their former homes.
At one house when we offered up cold drinks a woman said, “I’d love a Diet Coke.” Unfortunately, we were stocking only Pepsi products (they’d been on sale). She politely declined.
When we finished our rounds that day I drove to the local mini-mart and got an ice-cold bottle of Diet Coke then went back to the house. I stood in the front yard, “yoo-hooing” through a blown out window into a house that was only half there until I got the woman’s attention.
“Did somebody here need a Diet Coke?” I asked as picked her way through the rubble of her former life to follow my voice.
“You didn’t have to do that!”
“It was no problem. I’m a Diet Coke gal myself. They’re not the same thing at all.”
She took the Diet Coke, cracked it open, took a long, refreshing swig and leaned on shoulder and cried and cried. I’m assuming she was crying for her loss and for the kindness of strangers.
Bitter and sweet. It’s life. “It’s the real thing.”*
* Coke slogan from 1969