This too shall pass……I keep hearing that phrase in my head concerning the pandemic and everything that is going along with it. Of all the times that I miss my mom the most, it’s when I have happy news I wish I could share with her, or troubling issues, like the coronavirus outbreak, where she could usually soothe my worries with her wisdom gained from living many years.
I’ve found myself throughout the past almost eight months since she died having imaginary conversations with her. Often times I ask her how I should handle a particular situation, and I usually can come up with what I think her response would be.
I know there is a lot of panic and hysteria surrounding this latest situation, which maybe some is founded. But the two don’t help many situations. Believe me, I’ve gone into panic mode many times when something bad has unfolded, and I can’t think of once where it has solved or even helped the situation.
So when I hear the latest daunting news about this horrific virus, I tell myself that phrase, “this too shall pass.” When you are in the middle of a crisis, it’s almost impossible to believe there is light on the other side of the catastrophe going on at the present time. I am old enough to have lived through some disasters brought on by Mother Nature.
My family and I lived in the middle of the flood of 1996. Our home at the time was located right next to Whiskey Creek. The creek turned into a huge, overflowing and rushing river of the magnitude that is hard to imagine now days with the work that has been done to shore up the banks of the creek. There was no containing it, the only thing that could have stopped this disaster would be the hand of God reaching down and ceasing the flow of the water.
The only choice we had was to live through it, help each other and our neighbors out, and pray for colder temperatures at night to slow the flow of the raging water during the day. Homes were lost, and huge amounts of damage was done to property. We did make it through, eventually the water receded, and the creek banks were built up to prevent another flood being able to take hold of our community like the flood of 1996 did.
Then came the fire of 2015. My mother, sister and I had traveled to Lewiston on a hot summer day to watch a movie together. There had been wildfires surrounding Clearwater County, and Darold and our son Cody had been gone for weeks fighting fires. I felt relatively safe venturing to Lewiston though, and I did something I very rarely do. I left my dogs alone at home. If you know me at all, you know that my dogs go almost everywhere with me.
I asked a friend that was also working for me at the time, to please call me if something changed near Orofino, like a fire breaking out close to where we live on Grangemont. We had just arrived back in town when my cell phone rang with a call from my friend, Tabby Haskett. She told me that a fire had just broke out near Michigan Avenue, across from the DMV office in the Coon Building. This location was close enough to our home to cause alarm during that hot, dry summer.
I rushed from my mom’s house on Riverside towards our house on Grangemont, hoping I could get through before the roads were closed. I fortunately made it through, and pulled over on the side of the road, with many others, near the origin of the fire on the hillside, and watched in disbelief as it raced up the hill, and over, towards where the former Tri-Pro Mill was located. There was no stopping it, and the speed at which it grew was unbelievable to my eyes.
I went home and anxiously waited for Darold and Cody to come home from fighting fire near Kamiah that night. As they drove closer to Orofino, they could see the fire that had originated across from Michigan Avenue, it had made its way over the mountain and was heading towards Greer, visible from Highway 12. It had also traveled towards town at an alarmingly fast speed.
Darold reassured me that we were safe, it was located across the canyon. I think these words of comfort were more said to calm my near hysteria because he and Cody had to leave early every morning for Kamiah to continue to fight the fires there threatening homes and property, since they were contracted to the Forest Service with their heavy equipment. But the logical part of my brain told me that all it would take was a spark jumping the canyon for the fire to do the same thing on our side of the hill.
I stayed home for four days in case the fire jumped the canyon and I needed to move the horses and mule quickly. There was no electricity and no water since we are on a private well. The only traveling I did was to make quick trips to my mom’s house to shower and maybe do a quick load of laundry.
The day after the fire broke out, early in the morning when it was still raging out of control, after a night of little rest, I awoke to the whomp whomp whomp sound of helicopters flying in to drop water on the burning hillsides. I began to have hope again that the huge burning inferno could be contained.
When I would go to bed at night, in pitch black because of still no power, I could hear the hollering and sounds of hot shot crews across the canyon, working through the night to get fire lines built to contain the flames.
Both of these two catastrophes, the flood and fire, seemed surreal to me at the time they were happening. I remember thinking with each one that “normal” would never reoccur, that we would never feel untroubled again by the chaos that was going on in our county, and with other neighboring counties as well.
Then one day, with the flood, colder weather arrived at night, the waters receded, and damage was being repaired from the rampant flood waters. The same with the fires. It took time, and to keep them from devastating the hillsides and property from here to Kamiah and beyond, a lot of firefighting was done to keep it as contained as possible. But, eventually, the fall rains came and completely doused the flames.
The same, I believe, will happen with the coronavirus. The social distancing will help slow the spread, I’ve heard the virus can’t withstand heat, so with warmer weather hopefully there will be a slowing.
Eventually, things will be back to normal. No one knows how long that will take, and I believe that is one of the hardest things about these catastrophes that we have no control over, the uncertainty.
I’ll keep reminding myself of the post I saw on Facebook that speaks magnitudes about the situation, in the end, what we will remember the most is how we treated each other. I can hear my mom’s reassurance in my mind, this too shall pass.