Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Even Bad Days are Good Days by Nancy M Bell

photo credit: CBC

As some of you may know Fort McMurray, Alberta is on fire. While the fire has passed the city now, new evacuations to the north were ordered May 17th, 2016. I have been helping with the relief efforts through the animal shelter I volunteer at. Last Sunday we held an open house for Ft Mac evacuees who needed food and supplies for their animals. It was both sad and wonderful at the same time. Some of the people have lost their homes and everything in them, as well as their jobs. Many business are destroyed and now the fire, nicknamed The Beast, is bearing down on the work camps north of town where 4,000 workers who have just returned to work this week were evacuated today. The effects are far reaching and not just financial.
The uncertainty and sheer terror of fleeing the fire has marked every one involved. Even those of us on the outskirts are feeling the stress. I can only imagine how those who are displaced and living in temporary housing, with friends or camping out in RVs must be feeling. But through it all our resilience shines through. We keep on keeping on and doing what needs to be done.

This experience coupled with the experience I went through this past winter when my oldest son (36 years old) spend eight weeks in intensive care with us being told not to expect him to leave the unit alive has brought home to me the realization that we never know what the next day might bring. The last thing I expected on Christmas Eve was to hear my son was in ICU on life support, my husband was on a plane to Winnipeg and my youngest son was driving across three provinces to be with his brother. I stayed home to arrange care for the animals. Christmas Day I spent alone with the critters in a flood of tears. The bright spot was my ex-daughter-in-law kindly invited me to her house for a few hours in the afternoon. In the midst of tragedy we find kindness. I caught a plane at 5am on Boxing Day to be with him.

During the long days and nights spent at the hospital with my daughter-in-law at his bedside not knowing if he would wake up and if he did would he know who we were was hard. But when faced with the possibility that what he suffered from had no cure and we would be faced with watching him fade away from us made still having him there a blessing. No matter how awful things got and how scary and uncertain things were, the fact he was still with us was something to hang onto. Those bad days were good days. I know it was unrealistic but I refused to let myself believe that he wouldn't get well. On the white board in his room I wrote across the top on one of the darkest days "He is getting better" I wrote his full name, but I won't use that here. At that point we had no idea what was wrong, but they were throwing around things like prion disease, Crutchfield-Jacobs Disease, and a few others I've forgotten. All with no treatment and no cure. Even when he lost the ability to speak and then to swallow, those were good days because he was still with us and there was still hope. New Years Eve passed without me hardly realizing it happened. Late on January 11 the resident came into the room and gave us a miracle. They had a diagnosis, he had a rare form of encephalitis, but it was treatable. The day started out badly, it was his birthday and it was hard to see him lying there on a ventilator, drugged to the gills, but it was a good day because we finally knew what was wrong and it was treatable. Even bad days are good days.

So too with the evacuees, they are still alive, they have their families, most of them have their pets, although some are still in the rescue centres as they search for the owners, the vast majority were saved. Yes, these are hard days, bad days, and there are more to come once the crisis is passed. There is a ton of rebuilding to do in the Mac, and a ton of healing for the community. Some will leave and return home, some will return to Fort McMurray and start again. The good we have to hold onto in these bad days is we will rebuild and Fort Mac will rise again. All of Alberta is behind them and the support and help won't go away once the news crews pack up and the fire moves on and all that is left is to shift through the ashes and start anew. There's a lot of Maritimers living and working in Fort Mac and they stand with us as well. We are Alberta Strong. #albertastrong There are good days ahead.

On a different note:

I have a new release in the Arabella's Secret series. The second book is Arabella Dreams and picks up her story after she leaves Cornwall at the end of The Selkie's Song and makes her new life in southern Alberta. It's available on Amazon, Kobo and wherever good books are sold. Available in print and ebook.

Arabella Angarrick is heartbroken. Exiled from her beloved Cornwall, she must come to terms with life on the Canadian prairies and her arranged marriage to D’Arcy Rowan. She struggles to reconcile herself to life on a remote ranch with a man she barely knows. He knows he’s getting a two for one deal and Bella is thankful he is happy to welcome her unborn child into his home. D’Arcy is a kind man, but try as she might, Bella just can’t bring herself to love him. Her heart still yearns for Vear Du, the father of her baby. Will she ever stop dreaming of him?