thanksgiving | ˌTHaNGksˈɡiviNG | noun 1 the expression of gratitude, especially to God: he offered prayers in thanksgiving for his safe arrival | he described the service as a thanksgiving.

As another thanksgiving season looms, she is feeling a bit ungrateful and, truth be told, unworthy. She is absorbed in the horrors of the news that impacts her entire community in California and beyond. She watches more TV news than is healthy, somehow mesmerized by the devastation it loops over and over. She stares in disbelief, like so many others, at the horror of another Nightclub shooting. This time in Thousand Oaks California. Twelve dead, many more who will never be the same, experiencing the loss of a loved one, as the the foundation of normalcy, trust, and faith crumbles.

Shortly thereafter, a devastating fire actually consumes a town. Paradise is no more. Over twenty people dead and many more missing. How can an entire town be wiped out? It’s unheard of. And yet another California fire rages out of control, this one in Malibu where multimillion dollar mansions are destroyed, as the fire moves in a path of destruction toward Thousand Oaks.

Memories of the 2017 Sonoma Fires bubble to the surface of those in her hometown and can be seen on the faces of friends and family that lost everything one year ago almost to the day.

Once again, the terrifying reality of people missing, beloved pets uncounted for, homes, memories and lives lost. The smoke from the fire make its way, almost two hundred miles, to her frontdoor. Plansarecancelled,paradesandbirthdaypartiesreschedule.Nooutsideactivesare safe as the smoke lingers like a thick fog that settles on the ground. People wear face masks and share reports that the air is of the same unsafe quality as the air in China. Divers keep their headlights on, it looks like an Armageddon movie scene.

Houses, cars, even plants are covered with soot as it falls from the sky like snowflakes. But they aren’t snowflakes. They are what is left of someone’s home; the baby book created with love and joy for a child. Photographs of holidays now lost, grandmother’s cook books and beloved recipes past down from one generation to the next, gone. Children’s school books and favorite bedtime story books, art work on the fridge, school photos team uniforms and equipment, all lost. So many memories - up in smoke, landing back to earth as ash.


Wonderful, brave, and kind first responders help others as their lives, their homes, and their memories go up in smoke all around them. She believes the concern for their own families must cross their minds when they are able to take a break. If they are able to take a break.

She understands, 100%, the benefit of thanksgiving and gratitude. She is even part of a “gratitude guru’s group” - woman who email each other daily to share what they are grateful for. On this day she had nothing. She finds it difficult to even muster up a tiny bit of gratitude.

So she shares, she is grateful for water. Not a hot bath, or crystal clear spring water. Not even water to quench her thirst. Just water, and is the best she can do. It’s all she has.

Until now.

Until she realizes what is the gift of water, the rescue, the fighter of flames.

She remember the stories of people taking cover in swimming pools and streams to find

refuge from the flames, of helicopters dipping their buckets into swimming pools in Malibu and from lakes in Sonoma County to help douse the flames.

She acknowledges the power of water, the gift it offers, the hope of a new day, a new beginning...

She is truly grateful for the “little things” offering up prayers of thanksgiving for the gift of survival, and the healing that allows us to grieve, and then, go at it again.

And for water.

And then a facebook text comes in and changes her point of view and pulls her out of the sorrow that is as thick as the smoke. That reminded her that water is something to be grateful in every form. And that those that suffer, often suffer in silence, grieving alone even when among loved ones and friends.

Sometimes she forgets what an impact her work has on others. She often thinks she doens’t do enough, upset with her self that she “should” do more. Taking no glory or credit for the impact she has on others or the good she contributes to the world, she smily states, “I do what I do because I can, and because if I didn’t, who would get it done”?

© 2018 by Nancy Ballard.

Branding by Bianca Broos.

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Rooms that Rock 4 Chemo

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