By Dr. Juko Holiday
I pull a beautiful, round, ripe plum off a tree outside my cabin. The sun is shining, the trees are green, the sky is clear.
I look at it in my hand and feel my joy turn to confusion.
Sh*t, I don’t have a plum tree.
I’m dreaming, and my heart drops as the realization rises.
It fades – as dreams do – and the plum crumples, collapses, charred, burned, and hollow in my hand as I try to take a bite, knowing the dream is about to end.
I wake up.
My clinical mentor tells me it’s a good sign. The things we eat become a part of who we are, and the dream is a sign I am integrating the loss of my home into my being.
I am not in denial.
The forest compound consisted of: two tiny houses, a vintage trailer, an RV trailer that was our wifi and laundry spot, an 8 X 15 shed we had high hopes for, a greenhouse that was also our outdoor shower, and a camp site where friends and people living with grief came to visit. The greenhouse was spared, unless some spark drifted after my neighbor checked on our place some days ago and the fire has since taken it, too.
I know I said I lost my home, but what I lost was my house.
Home is something I can’t lose, it’s a place inside of me that I’ve worked hard to find.
Being at home in the world, with myself – being at home and comfortable with my strengths and my most stubborn personal stumbling blocks.
That home stands, even if my house fell.
The two things I fear most in life are here, laid bare – there is nowhere I can possibly hide them anymore: being houseless and asking for help – dropping all of my defenses and obstacles to receiving love.
I am a water sign. I never knew how instructive and transformative fire could be.
We are still being housed and fed by the Red Cross in a hotel near SFO, and are formulating our next move – I am overwhelmed with gratitude by the generosity our friends, family, and community have shown to us. I can’t put into words what it’s like to see it unfold.
Someone anonymously sent over some kitchen things to our hotel, and it turns out that night the Red Cross moved their operations and I couldn’t find where to get something for dinner. I plugged in the toaster oven and stared at it as I cooked some things I brought from our cabin when I left.
It feels like I’ve lost everything, but what I need keeps showing up.
These photos were taken by a neighbor, there is still an evacuation notice (last I checked) for our area and it will be some time before I can go and sift through the ashes to see what might remain.
Please note there is a weekly virtual peer support check-in for other people who have lost their houses, feel free to share the link with people you know who, in the midst of our joy for neighbors who were spared, need a space all to ourselves to grieve:
Let’s Breathe & Be Together
We lost our house to the fire, but our true home has always been with our community.
Check here for various offerings intended to help us stay calm and connect during this crisis.
All are welcome, including those living far from the fires who want to offer support.
All offerings are free.
I am trying hard to respond to people and messages – it will take me some time. I am used to having a lot of energy, but I wind up fading and crawling into bed.
Sometimes weeping. But not despairing. Mostly resting.
Touching home where and how I can, even if it’s in a dream.
Every single message that I read or that you leave helps – all the sharing of our fundraising pages helps us get to our next step, which we think will be #vanlife for the immediate future to maximize our options as we figure out how and what we are rebuilding and get my business up and running again.
I receive your prayers, support, and good wishes with gratitude and humility.
With great love and hope, Juko