Somber smoke

The eerie, smoky haze of a nearby forest fire has once again enveloped our little valley. I am certain smoke does nothing to dampen sound, yet things feel strangely quiet, in a post-apocalyptic way.

Today, my nine-year-old daughter experienced the devastating sadness that comes with a friend moving away. They’ve been friends since the age of two or three. I have a photo of them both dressed as Snow White as toddlers, and so many memories of the girls running away from younger brothers (her friend has three, she has one), splashing around in hot tubs, jumping on trampolines, and beading or painting fantastical creations. Her friend is ten now, all warmth and innocence and joy. My daughter is nine, ever the cynic with a mischievous grin. We came home from the farewell luncheon thrown in their honour, and she sobbed into my chest for a while, then sat, catatonic on the couch.

I brush her hair off her tear-stained face, and I cry a little with her, because I remember the feeling so well. I was always the one moving away. Over and over. It is utter and total loss. Devastation. Hopelessness in a little girl’s social life.
I know kiddo, I know how this feels. It sucks so much. I’m sad with you. It’s going to happen again one day and every time, it’s going to hurt the same. That’s just how it goes. You’ll be okay though. So will she.

It’s also September 11 today. Two of her friends have birthdays today, and will never know the associations so many of us have on this day. It’s been 21 years.

I walk the dog with my son as the sun filters through the smoke. He is chatty, as always. He refers to himself sometimes as a “forgetful Jones”. I don’t know where he learned that, but I like to think of him as a little boy version of a “chatty Cathy”. I hear all about fighter jets and landing gear, and how if humans had a flying superpower, we’d have to be careful not to get too high because then we’d run out of air and die, all of a sudden, just like that. I think of Icarus, waxed wings melting, feathers ablaze, falling out of the sky. We discuss the logistics of a human flying without propulsion. Could we even get that high? We discuss dog toenails and the upcoming school year, and my life is fuller, even with minutiae, it is fuller now.

Taken yesterday, before the smoke rolled in, before the world woke up, and after I’d frozen my fingers and toes on an early morning paddleboard.

2 thoughts on “Somber smoke

  1. Here in Ireland September 11th has passed us by this year. Even though she wasn’t our Queen the death of Queen Elizabeth has taken over the media here. So much is shared with the UK it’s hard to escape it.

    Liked by 1 person

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