September 9th, 2010
Two Days After the Fire
Hello Wonderful Friends.
I am spending tonight at a small inn by the river in Gallatin, Montana, where they filmed “A River Runs Through It.” Thunderstorms have been rolling across the range all evening, and lightening flashes in the distance. They’re predicting snow for Yellowstone tomorrow. Can you imagine? Hot geysers hissing through falling snow? I’m in awe just thinking about it.
It was a grueling drive today – hundreds of rainy miles on I-90, driving and talking to insurance people, neighbors, friends, co-workers, all of whom have been worried. I ranted. I grumbled. I cried. I drove some more. I walked the dog at rest areas in Idaho and Montana. I told complete strangers in gas stations my house had just burned down. I know that this is the temporary insanity of grief.
When my little brother was killed in a motorcycle accident at 26, I felt like this. I remember walking around the airport waiting for the flight to Chicago from Denver, and I couldn’t feel my feet. I stomped the ground, trying to feel them, but I was numb from the waist down. Grief does the strangest things.
And it does the most miraculous things as well. Today, in a matter of hours, friends a thousand miles away sprang into action and found me a temporary home — a cute cottage in Chautauqua, where I can pretend I still live in the mountains. Annie Hughes emailed the manager there, whom she knows; and Sandy and Beth got on the phone and sweetly nagged him every couple of hours, and made sure I was at the top of his list. And by this afternoon, I was in. They are waiving the no-dog policy, giving me half off the rent, and stocking the kitchen with equipment. Bert, the manager, was an absolute angel. “Any friend of Annie’s…” he said.
Beth Hayden even drove up there after a long day of work, picking up her son Ben on the way, and checked it out for me. She assures me it’s cute, and Ben has already picked out my room (with the double bed) and Nellie’s room (with the single bed.) Nellie will certainly be happy to know she has her own room – that’s a first. (Thanks, Ben.)
So I am still in shock and mad at the universe and feel like a crazy person, but I also feel so loved by all of you. Thank you everyone, for the offers of a place to live, and the many, many expressions of kindness, some from folks I’ve only met once, or never met at all. Your generosity and love astonishes me. If anyone dares tell me ever again that people are basically rotten and no one helps you when you’re down, I will tell them of you and shame them to silence with your goodness.
A river runs through it. It’s quiet here tonight; and my room has a fireplace that gently flickers in the corner while I write. Nellie is curled up with her head resting on my ankle, and storms roll over the Bridger Range. My heart is a little less stormy tonight, and I am surrounded by a river of love. Nice to know we will all float down it together.
Sending you so much gratitude and love,
Andi and Nellie