Gerard Van Der Leun is an old and dear friend of ours here at CF, and I’m very saddened to learn that he’s just suffered a devastating loss due to the Cali fires:
Today I have to start to replace the basics. The inventory of needful things and obscure objects is long and spotty. As I said above, no briefs have I. Nor spare socks. Nor toothbrush. Nor corkscrew. Nor any one of a thousand trivial things that form the tools of life and the shell of the self. Nor things like the photograph of my one daughter when she was small enough to rest there along my forearm. Losses one shrugs at and losses that make me weep here in the dawn.
What I do have is the love and the generosity of my cherished friends and readers. It is more wonderful and more widespread than I ever could have imagined. I will be weeks thanking all but my gratitude is deep and abiding.
What I do have is this small unknowing black cat sleeping curled at my side after our ride out of the fire.
What I do have is my mother sleeping quietly in the next room, her breathing soft and low as her life is fine and bright.
What I do have is my mother’s warm and settled apartment she has lived in for nearly 40 years. Others are sleeping in shelters, churches, RVs, and tents.
At the end of things we can, I think, come yet again to know — as we know and forget and know and again forget so many times — that Paradise is not a place that lasts forever here on Earth, but something that exists in the hearts of good people that hold their holy light within and, when that light is called forth, let it shine through.
My heart breaks for the man, it truly does. But at the same time, his abiding positive attitude and ability to hold his blessings at the forefront of his awareness with gratitude rather than lapsing into inconsolable grief and self-pity is inspiring, and says so much about Gerard’s character and grit. I can only sit back in awe and admiration at such resilience in the immediate aftermath of disaster. You can donate something to help him out here, and I urge you to consider doing so if you possibly can.
Gerard, my friend, you’re one of the good guys. May God bless you and keep you in this most trying time. I’ll keep this post up top for a few days, so’s our less frequent visitors don’t miss it.