No Words

I don’t really know what to say today, guys.

I think I had a vague plan earlier, but I can’t remember what it was, if anything.

It’s possible I pushed myself too hard yesterday, and so was dizzy and exhausted last night and today, which is making it more difficult for me to process the world and such right now.

Losing Ron Glass earlier this week was a blow, but I also relate to death differently than I used to, after Alysia died. Well…it started after Kate the kitten died, but definitely after Alysia. I feel it differently now.

And now, after already struggling to come to grips with the loss of Ron, someone I love has lost someone she loves even more – someone much closer to her and who she is – and I don’t know how to help her breathe through it. The first was difficult enough, but to lose this next one so soon after…I don’t know. I don’t know what to say or how to shoulder some of the pain, or how to help her to shoulder it herself.

I’ve been feeling helpless a lot lately, in trying to figure out how to help myself. This is helpless in a different way, in that I’m trying to figure out how to help someone else.

Both suck.

On another note, my creative partner let me know that he’s trying to set something up for us, which is great. He mentioned that he suggested a date that happens to already have off from work, which is great – for him. Ridiculous. Sometimes I just have to shake my head and dial down the rage.

So much to talk about, but not here.

I need to get to the Dodger soon, among other things.

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A Few Quick Thoughts

Man, the past few days have been difficult for my heart, and the past couple of weeks have just been a lot.

Most of which I haven’t put on here, I know, and while that’s been deliberate, I also realize that not sharing things that go on with me is a big part of my problem in relating to other people and forming any sort of strong bond with anyone.  I cut myself off, and it shows.

Maybe I’ll learn to change that, maybe not.  Either way, it won’t happen today!  haha

Found out earlier that Kenny Baker passed away, which is sad and another loss to not only my childhood but to my adult life, as well.  I met him at my first convention in 2005, and he was the first Star Wars actor I’d ever met.  I was so overwhelmed by the experience that I called my mom right after and cried about it to her on the phone.

Good grief.  🙂

So rest in peace, Mr. Baker, and thank you for bringing the first droid I ever loved to life.

Sending strength to my amazing friend, Dakota, for he is one of the fiercest warriors I’ve ever had the honour of knowing, and I know he has it in him to win this battle against the infection in his brain right now.  But sending a little extra strength his way, regardless, because every little bit helps.  Love you, my friend.

And finally, to Leo the Lion, the ‘L’ in the “BLT” – although not surprised at losing you, I am nevertheless still gutted, and all the more disappointed in myself for not finding a way to get to you this summer as I’d planned.  I’d had a feeling it would be my last chance, and though I don’t know what I could have done differently to get there sooner (or, as of yet, at all), a part of me still won’t forgive myself for not trying harder to make it happen.  I love you and will miss you madly, even still.

So for now, I’m just going to leave this here:  https://youtu.be/xicKoc8LjGE

Thank you for helping to teach us stupid humans how to love.

Even those of us who are habitually disappointing.

Highlighting The Positive Side

Leo BLT 08-11-16

I don’t really feel like writing today. Over-tired, heavy heart at losing Leo the lion, and a myriad of other feelings. I have the feels, but what I don’t feel is like writing. Haha

Instead, I’m going to highlight a couple of things.

Our latest Mind Reels Ol’ Timey Radio Play reading from earlier this week – we’d recorded back-up audio and video for the “official” read, and the video is now available to be viewed here. So much ridiculous fun! I’m not sure I’ll ever forget Josh Vokey’s performance in particular, both as Mrs Umney AND the Ghost! I actually can’t wait to watch it back as a way of remembering all the awesome! I feel like they just keep getting better and better, and while I’ve already got the next script chosen (to hopefully do at some point during the week after next), I am already looking to choose what the September script will be, too! I’m so excited about how these are going that I keep forgetting to work on booking interviews, as well. Balance! I must remember to seek balance!

Hopefully links for all three radio plays, and most recent interview, will go up at Smithee.TV’s sites soon, too, since everything was recorded properly for those, and using back-up methods for ours.

I am also much closer to being ready to launch a Patreon page for The Mind Reels! The inital goal is to basically get enough support per month to help cover the site-related expenses we’ve been paying out of pocket all this time, and then hopefully to be able to grow and expand the podcast even more! I have a lot of ideas, and I am excited to launch this so that fans and friends and supporters all over the world can get even more involved and interactive with the Mind Reels experience as a whole.

I think a Patreon page will add another level to it all, really. In case you are wondering, Patreon is a model of crowd-funding which allows people to sign up as Patrons to support their favourite projects on a monthly basis, usually in exchange for various rewards given back to them each month. For the Mind Reels page, we will be accepting sponsors at a wide variety of tier levels, with the lowest being $1 per month, and the highest being $15 per month (though I have a possible idea for a cool $20 tier reward if I can get things running smoothly for a few months first). The rewards get better and more interactive with each increase in tier level, and while Patrons can cease their sponsorship at any time, I am hoping that many of the rewards will entice people to stay on and enjoy the ride with us! From simple thank you’s and Twitter follows to entries into monthly draws all the way up to being named as an official presenter of an episode each month and unlimited access to video footage of full episodes via private links (the public video links are generally only for the abridged versions of the full episodes), which can really be a lot of fun to watch, too!

So we’ll see. I really want to put some effort into making the whole endeavour a success, so am going into it assuming I’ll be doing it more or less on my own, and then if I get any extra help here and there, all the better!

I also just today discovered this Canada In A Day thing, and I totally want to participate! I’ve only glanced through it, but already my mind is coming up with some fun ideas to try, so I fully expect to have even more thoughts come to me once I’ve had a chance to go over all of the submission details and the like! Such a cool and fun project – even more so if I am a part of it! Haha

That’s pretty much it for now, I think. I am very heavy-hearted over losing Leo…like, to the point where I can’t talk about it out loud or even really think about it at all without crying, so at least there are plenty of distractions in my work day to keep me focused on other things. But not talking about it doesn’t mean that it’s not affecting me deeply, especially right now. I just can’t let that be my main emotion, so while I’m allowing myself to feel it when I can, I’m also making sure to let myself feel other things, too.

Balance, right?

Also, one more thought – Brody invited me to play with him last night, for the first time in quite a long while! I of course accepted. It only lasted a few minutes because #heatwave, but the happiness it injected into my heart when it lie broken was much needed and appreciated.

He’s such a good boy, that #BrodyGraham. ❤

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Don’t Read This One

Seriously, I’m just ranting – you don’t need to read this one.  I feel like I say too much, but not nearly enough, and am just trying to get out of my head for a moment.

It’s okay to give this one a pass.

I’ll write something else later.

Either way, here goes nothing…

To say I am frustrated and disappointed with the Fire Marshal would be an understatement. There really are no words, yet at the same time, there will never be enough words. I can’t wrap my head around what appears to be a flippant dismissal of the loss of life, and responsibility, and justice…and while none of that can bring back those kids, I feel like a half-assed investigation only adds insult to injury. I mean, isn’t the main function of a Fire Marshal investigation to determine the cause of a fire? Not just call it inconclusive, sit on it for over two years and then say, “Oh, I don’t know, it was probably caused by (this first guess). Case closed.”

I don’t think a Coroner would just wave his or her hand and say, “I don’t know…the person probably died because of (this first guess). Case closed.”

Or maybe they would. I don’t know if anyone is doing their freaking job anymore. I have lost confidence in the people who hold such positions to carry their share of the responsibility in determining what happened, and how similar tragedies can be prevented in the future.

They didn’t even interview the lone survivor about that night, let alone any of the people who were at the apartment so often it was like a second home to them. Yet apparently felt it was fine to ask me questions through a friend. For the most part, though, they just made an assumption and called it a day. An assumption that was quite likely incorrect. Didn’t even look into anything else; any other possible cause.

One smoke detector had no battery, the other was probably not working – they’re not sure. Just that everyone reported that no smoke detectors were going off when the fire was discovered. One was located above the stove in the kitchen, and one outside the boys’ bedrooms at the front. So…I guess the one in the kitchen also served as the regulated-by-law smoke detector that is supposed to be outside of the girls’ sleeping areas, as well? A little double duty from over the stove in the kitchen?

That both exits were on the same side of the building doesn’t seem to have raised any concerns about the apartment being up to code, nor the fact that walls were added to turn the space into a 4-bedroom instead of two. I have a screen shot of the rental ad – well, a rental ad for that apartment. Not necessarily the one the kids answered when they found the place. But basically the same. It wasn’t turned into a makeshift 4-bedroom for them specifically. It was advertised as such. Are two smoke detectors really enough for a 4-bedroom when one of them is in the kitchen area? Above the stove, for Pete’s sake?

That the landlord is not legally responsible for maintaining the smoke detectors is frustrating. Apparently we as a society feel it is up to a group of kids in their early 20’s to dutifully check to ensure everything is in proper working order when they move in, rather than the owner dude renting the space to them in the first place. I didn’t check mine until this all happened, because I know that the landlord checks them regularly, but when I found that things like this can not only happen, but also be my fault, I became a little more paranoid than I was before (and I was already really paranoid). I am not in my early 20’s, though. Not on my own for the first time. I was 41 when I started testing my smoke detectors more often than the landlord was doing it.

The kids’ landlord didn’t do it at all. Not in the time that they lived there, at least.

And apparently the Fire Marshal doesn’t deem that an important factor, either. Doesn’t think any of it is, really. So what if three kids and a little kitten lost their lives? No one need speak for them. No one need determine the reason how any of it happened. I used to believe people in those positions would fight to do their jobs to the very best of their abilities. That not knowing wasn’t a suitable answer. That guessing was never the way.

Which means I watch too much TV. Turns out to real people, it’s just a day job, and then they go home, without giving another thought to those who will never get to go home again.

I get that everyone’s just doing the minimum required. I get that nothing can change what happened, no matter how much investigation is done. I understand (almost) all of it on a reasonable level, but that doesn’t change my frustration and sadness and disappointment and anger and hurt and…just…overall upset-ness. The minimum effort raises more questions than it answers, and those kids deserve more. The families deserve more. Ethan deserves more. He at least deserves the chance to fill in some of the blanks for those investigating what happened. He was there, after all, and he’s the one who has to live with those memories for the rest of his life. At least ask his side of it, if it’s your job to determine what happened. To me, that actually falls under the bare minimum, but then again, I’m not the Fire Marshal. Just someone who, on some level, will never really understand any of it at all.

I go over that night in my head constantly, you know. Constantly. I wasn’t there. I’d never been inside the apartment until after everything had been taken out. I didn’t even know any of them but Alysia. But I picture it over and over; my mind is full of unanswered questions about how everything happened, trying to fill in the many, many blanks. I feel like if any one thing had gone differently that night, they would all still be alive.

If even just one smoke detector had gone off, for example.

I had a dream last night that I was choosing between…like, it had something to do with Spanish, even though I don’t speak it. But essentially, I had to choose whether I would learn to help Spanish-speaking people in a legal forum, or a musical one. I know. But hey, music speaks, too. I had the impression that either I would be working for people’s rights – the rights of those who could not communicate effectively due to the language barrier – or if I would help in a more spiritual/emotional way through the implementation of music and dance programs.

I chose law, and even in the dream I couldn’t believe I was picking the more difficult road.

I just felt it would be the one where I could be most effective and make the most difference.

I chose to speak for those who could not speak for themselves.

Harambe

Harambe.jpg

Ugh I’m so torn!

Do I join the rest of the uneducated masses spewing forth ignorant, empty of thought opinions online about the whole gorilla thing? Or do I continue to bite my tongue and hope my simmering rage will subside on its own before it boils over and spews out on its own? Haha

Such a quandary!

I mean, on the one hand, my opinion is no more or less valid than anyone else’s, even though I’m pretty sure most people are just wrong. Haha

But what would be gained from my babbling rant being added to the rest of what’s already out there? Nothing. It likely wouldn’t even change anyone’s attitude nor opinion, and would instead preach to the choir, just like everyone else. And you know how much I hate being like everyone else.

So given that what I think isn’t more valid than what anyone else thinks, what about the benefit of remaining silent and moving on about my daily life? Surely there are many good reasons to do that. Except my opinion isn’t less valid, either, and with so many voices out there loudly decrying the opposite of mine, it’s hard to believe that I should be the one remaining silent when so many others are selfishly putting theirs out there. And you know how much I hate being like everyone else if no one else notices how delightfully different I am.

I guess the deciding factor is really in the notion that I’m sure some people think they know what I think, and as that is not necessarily the case, it’s probably best to do my own talking on the subject, rather than let anyone else do it for me. I don’t really have time to put my thoughts into any coherent order, or articulate them very well, so this is pretty much all reaction to the public reactions I’ve been seeing all over the internet since the incident occurred. There is, as always, a boatload of judgement flying about, and should-haves and accusations and finger-pointing at where blame ought to be laid. Many are using it as proof that their soap-boxing ideas are correct, and most seem to see it as a black and white issue; a blanket for all animals, or parents, or children, or zoos, or zoo staff, or whatever. I don’t even know. What I don’t see is much discussion about a) this particular incident with this particular animal, and b) alternate viable solutions other than the occurring result.

So, let’s see…couple of quick things, I guess.

  • To those who say Harambe (he had a name, and a personality, which is weird considering he wasn’t a person by definition) and all animals should not be in zoos, he was captive-born, so what you are really saying is that he should never have been born at all. And if that’s what you think, then you have no right to be upset that he has now died. If you think he had no right to live in the first place, then how he lived and how he died are none of your concern. Move on and find another argument to waste everyone’s time with.
  • To those who say zoos are terrible, unnatural places for animals, I can counter your blanket statement by pointing out that they are better, healthier and allow for more natural behaviours that nursing homes, seniors residences, group homes, orphanages, foster homes and any institution which house our physically and mentally challenged citizens. Those statements are both true in some cases, but in many are also false. Each scenario should be judged on its merit alone, and not all lumped in together into one general assumption. Inform your opinions. Seriously.
  • Human lives matter more than any other species. To humans. Pretty much every other species would say the same. As always, there are exceptions to every rule, but even for me, while logic dictates that the member of the NON-endangered species should have been killed instead, my biological instinct, or whatever, is to save the child, even though there are a billion more just like him on the planet already.
  • I get why tranquilizers weren’t used. They don’t take effect immediately, and would instead agitate Harambe further, along with all the screaming and crying from the hairless apes around him. What I wonder is, given that things like this happen ALL THE TIME (not just in zoos, either), why no one has worked on finding other quicker alternatives to outright killing. There is a good ten minutes of middle ground in there. Why aren’t we looking for methods which would fit in between tranquilize and kill? Is it because killing is so often our first option that we don’t bother to look further?
  • What did the wee tyke learn from his trip to the zoo that day? A healthy respect for non-human animals? Doubtful. A greater awareness that rules are in place for a reason, and that they actually apply to him? Also doubtful, considering the number of grown-ass adults who also climb over fences at zoos these days. I suspect that all that will be retained in that kid’s still soft skull of his day at the zoo will be whatever other people tell him. For sure he wasn’t punished for going somewhere that’s supposed to be off-limits to him, so he won’t even have learned that, either. Those are the kinds of things that are supposed to be taught before going places – following rules, being a member of society, that sort of thing. Of course, most of us grown-ass adults also don’t abide by such general rules, either, so it’s really no wonder that kids don’t ever learn.
  • More and more, we have to protect animals from ourselves and from other people, not the other way around. Your dog should not have to be muzzled so he doesn’t bite some kid who hits him with a stick. But he is, because it’s easier than teaching the kid not to hit. People expect that zoos are there to entertain (they’re not), or to teach children to respect wildlife (if only their parents would learn that respect as well and pass it on themselves, instead of expecting zoos to do it for them), but the way I see it, they are there, for the most part, to protect wildlife from human beings. We poach, we destroy habitat, we trophy hunt – it’s our fault that so many species are on the brink of extinction, while we spread across the Earth like a cancer, consuming everything in our path. And yet, even in captivity, or sanctuaries, or reserves of any sort, we just can’t seem to keep them safe from us. Maybe because we can’t all agree on the best way to go about saving them. Maybe because we can’t even agree to disagree on the best way and try a bunch of different ways in the hopes of attaining the best results. We’re too busy arguing with one another to bother thinking about the animal in front of us; the one we put there with our own greed and ignorance.

There’s more, but I am out of time for today.

Rest in peace, sweet Harambe. Thanks for saving that kid’s life, even at the expense of your own. I’m sorry some people think you should not have been born; I’m not one of them. I’m glad you were here, and that your final moments highlighted one of many ugly truths about the human race.

We’re still making it all about us.

What I CAN Say Is This

So many exciting things going on in my world right now…and I can’t talk about any of them here yet!

Haha

Ah well…I’ll find something else to babble about…let’s see…

Got through another March, and am finally into April. And payday. So that’s good.

I’ve managed to have a pretty quiet week so far, which is good. I’ve been spending more time at home, in part because I’m exhausted, and in part because I like it there. The animals all seem to appreciate it, too, especially after I spent the majority of the long weekend with them, and after I’d spent the rest of the month of March only home to sleep, for the most part. So we’ve been able to spend more time together this past week, and it’s been more relaxing for all of us, I think.

I think I’m going to a movie tonight, and then a beer or two. Possibly the zoo tomorrow, because I’m really starting to suffer withdrawal now. I mean, I haven’t even met the rhino baby yet! What kind of person am I?! And all of the babies are growing fast without me being there to witness it very much, which is just unacceptable. Even if I just go check in on everyone for a bit and then go back home to get things done, that would be good for my soul. It’ll probably happen, depending on how much sleep I get tonight and how whiny I feel in the morning.

I am beyond excited that I get to meet Lil Bub and her dude in person in a couple of weeks! The work they do to raise money and awareness for animals with special needs is unparalleled, and they helped Tim and I break our Guinness World Record back in 2014, so the fact that I get to meet them in person finally is ridiculously thrilling for me. Plus, I have nothing but admiration and awe for Bub’s fierce determination and incredible adaptability – along with her dude Mike’s unending love and perseverance – in getting her to the place she is at now, health-wise alone! It’s insane! They said she wouldn’t be able to walk, and yet now she can run, and climb and jump! What?! Science and magic, indeed. I love that little critter. Bub’s a beast at life.

New TV shows on my watch list are The Catch (of which I’ve seen and enjoyed the first episode), and possibly The Path (of which I have recorded but not yet watched). Because, you know, I don’t have enough on my watch list as it is. Constantly freaking behind. Blah.

AND what is up with everything I watch ending after this season?! I mean, not everything everything, but still a lot! Already gone are Haven, Continuum, Lost Girl…Defiance? I think Defiance is done. Motive is ending. Rizzoli and Isles is ending. I can’t even remember what else.

Maybe I am just tired of saying goodbye.

Same with celebrity deaths, though I have been less affected by most of them this year than many people. Alan Rickman was a pretty big one for me. And Patty Duke – I think I am still processing that one. When I was younger, I dreamed of marrying Sean Astin – in part because GOONIES, and in part because I wanted Patty Duke to be my mother-in-law. She and my mom would have gotten along great, and my mom would have been thrilled to have a friend who was even shorter than she is! As I got older and Sean married someone else (no hard feelings – he wouldn’t even meet me until a few years ago), I decided there should just be a way to adopt more parents for ourselves. There’s no limit on the number of children people can have or adopt, so there shouldn’t be a limit on the number of parents one can have, either. At least as far as paternal-like friends go.

I don’t know. I just really adored everything I learned about that woman. I wanted to know her. I wanted to be her. I wanted to learn from her. I wanted to just be around her and hang out and try to make her laugh. She just seemed like such a true and complete person, even when she was struggling to feel that way herself. Maybe especially then, because no matter what, she never gave up. She always fought for something better. She always fought to be better. I want that kind of energy in my life; that kind of inspiration.

Which, I know, can really only be provided by me.

But I’ll sure miss having her there, off in the distance, to look to when I feel like I’m losing my way.

I’ll miss having the dream of knowing the real Patty Duke to hold on to. Guess I’ll hold the memory of the dream instead.

Two Years

Two years ago today – March 7th, 2014 – I had the day off work. It was a Friday, and while there was a very busy Mind Reels weekend lined up (Canadian Screen Awards broadcast gala and, I believe, Toronto Comicon, as well), I’d decided to go to the zoo for a while, before things really kicked into high gear. It was a nice day, and not only was there a handsome polar bear cub named Humphrey I wanted to visit, but there had also been a tiny gorilla baby born recently, and while I’d seen the top of her head, or a limb, and several photos of her, I’d not yet gotten a good look at her in person. I thought I’d give my luck another try that day.

I could never have guessed how impactful that day at the zoo would be for me, and in how many different ways my life would change – was, in fact, changed before I even left my apartment.

I think that was one of the first times I went to the zoo alone. I know the very first time was for Hudson’s birthday, because he was my bear and I wasn’t about to miss his first birthday, especially given that he almost didn’t live long enough to have it. But while I’d made my way out to the zoo on March 7th by myself, I did manage to meet up with a couple of people I’d recently befriended via our mutual love for the zoo and everybody in it. So there was that. I wasn’t completely alone.

I visited with Humphrey for awhile – and Steve, one of my new friends – and though I don’t remember much else from the first part of that day, I know I eventually made my way over to hang out with the gorilla troop. My other new friend, Laurel, was there, too, and because of her, I had the great honour that day of meeting Johari, the gorilla I’d seen as a baby on Zoo Diaries, but whom I couldn’t yet tell apart from others in the troop. I knew Charles the silverback, and Nassir (because he’s smaller than the rest), and Ngozi because she had a baby riding around with her all the time at that point. I was pretty sure I could tell Josephine from the others, but Sadiki and Johari in particular, I kept getting mixed up. I’d really wanted to meet Johari in person, so was thrilled when Laurel introduced us. As soon as I said her name, her beautiful eyes fixed on mine and I was in love.

Even though I still get her mixed up sometimes. Sorry Johari – I’m learning, I promise!

A couple of weird things had happened that morning, as well. A friend texted me out of the blue asking if I’d “heard about Alysia”, one of our coworkers, and one of my favourite people on the planet. My platonic girlfriend, we’d decided once day. I’d been texting with her the night before a bit as we sent each other selfies that our cats had taken with the Cat Snaps phone app her mom had discovered. After that text, though, I had a bit of an uneasy feeling, like maybe Alysia been fired, or something. I texted back that no, I hadn’t heard anything, what was going on?

When I didn’t get a response after a period of time had gone by, I decided to just go to the source, so I texted Alysia herself.

Are you okay? Is something going on?”

No response from that, either, which was extra weird, because she’d know I’d start to worry if I didn’t hear back from her. My uneasy feeling grew, but I pushed it aside. I was being paranoid, and I was at the zoo, so I turned my attention back to the present moment. I knew I’d be there for Alysia, whenever and whatever she needed.

So, as if getting to interact with Johari a bit wasn’t enough, I also finally got my wish of getting a better view of baby Nneka for the first time! Ngozi brought her over closer to the window while I was there, and despite some little kids being in the way, I still got to look on her adorable wee face for a few moments before moving out of the way. I went off to the side then, used my zoom lens, and caught a couple of sweet pics of the little one lifting her head up and looking around a bit more than she had before. Once again, I was in love.

Then my phone rang.

It was Tim. I figured he’d forgotten that I was at the zoo, and wanted to go over our plan of attack for the weekend, or something, so I answered.

It wasn’t what I thought. At all.

After some back and forth about whether or not I should sit down, he finally got it out: there’d been a huge fire. He didn’t need to say any more. My stomach dropped, and I spoke her name aloud.

Alysia.

In that moment I knew, and my heart exploded. She was gone.

A lot happened after that, but I don’t remember most of the details. Some I remember very clearly, but most not.

I told Laurel, and she hugged me and cried with me. She’d heard about the fire on the news earlier, and agreed that the kitten wouldn’t have made it, either. It was all too overwhelming to really take in. I texted Steve to tell him, and by then I was feeling really confused as to what I should do next, so when he offered to drive me home, I agreed. He asked if I wanted to leave right then, and I didn’t know. He asked if I wanted to see Humphrey again before we left, because the area had cleared out a bit since I’d been there earlier. I pictured the little furball in my mind and said yes. Yes, I want to be around him again for a few minutes.

I couldn’t breathe very well, and there seemed to be a huge hole in my chest that no one else could see, but it was hurting. A lot.

I got lost in the African Pavilion, and fought panic as I tried to find my way outside. I eventually did, and gulped air while taking stock of where the hell I was, and where the hell I needed to go to get back to the polar bear cub.

I finally got sorted out and headed in the right direction. My mind was spinning the whole time, trying to figure out how what I knew to be true could possibly BE true. I’d just been talking to her the night before. I’d hugged her goodbye when we’d parted ways on the subway, and told her to get home safe. Maybe there’d been some kind of mistake. But there wasn’t. I consoled myself with the idea that maybe they’d all slept through the whole thing; that the smoke had taken them before they could wake up.

That turned out to not be true, either, and it wasn’t really much comfort even when I hoped it was, anyway. I cried off and on the whole way back to the Tundra Trek, and as I got closer, a flash of colour out of the corner of my eye. A red-tailed hawk flew by, low, not much higher than I stood.

Alysia…” I whispered her name into the breeze and started to cry again.

Just then, the Arctic Wolves began to howl – the whole pack. It felt like they were giving voice to my shattered heart, and I stopped to listen to them a moment, waiting for the tears to take another break.

I continued on my way.

I found Steve, and moments later, young Humphrey wandered over, stood up and put his front paws on the fence, and just looked up at us for a few moments. Then he started to play, as though he knew being his entertaining self was exactly what was needed. It fixed nothing, changed nothing, but it did make me smile.

That day, the day the whole world changed, is now two years passed, and the Earth has continued spinning the whole time. The sun still rises and sets, I get up and come to work, I pay bills, I watch TV, I go out and laugh and have a good time. To all outward appearances, everything has carried on much as it did before.

But it’s not the same. The hole in my chest has taken up permanent residency, and while it’s settled into a general ache most of the time, there are still those moments that it blows wide open again, as though to remind me that it’s still there. Alysia’s dog, Brody, lives with me now, and is a bright shining light in my everyday life, just as she was. Her family feels like my family now, too. Her friends feel like my friends.

I’m sorry that I never met Jordan, Katie, little Frankie the kitten before they were taken in the fire, too. I’m sorry that I didn’t know Ethan before his world fell out from under him. I’m sorry that I didn’t know the Grahams or the Boyers as families before they were torn apart and forever changed by their unfathomable loss. I would have liked them, seeing them together, knowing who they were before this.

But I’m not sorry to know them now. I’m not sorry to love them now. And though I hate how I feel now, I’m not sorry I got to know Alysia as much as I did, even for as short a time as it was. Knowing her changed me a little, for the better. Loving her did, too. Losing her forever altered me in ways I still haven’t figured out yet. And as much as it’s a constant ache that I don’t think will ever go away, in a way, I embrace that, too. It means she’s a part of me, even now. Maybe especially now. And if getting rid of the pain means forgetting I ever knew her, then I vote no. Absolutely not. My pain and I shall remain forever entwined as I forge ahead through the world as this new me, whoever that is, and whoever that will be.

Until we meet again.

Alysia
Alysia