Today is the tenth anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires. No, my house wasn’t destroyed by those terrible bushfires, the house I grew up in is still standing and I still have my childhood room. However, the Jones’s house had come to feel like home for me. It was a safe place that held a really special place for me. It was the Jones’s whose house was claimed that terrible day. They didn’t deserve it, no one deserved it.
The day was full of confusion and panic and worry, it was so sudden but also painstakingly slow.
I should feel lucky. Because it wasn’t my house. I lost material possessions but I know I didn’t lose my childhood home. It wasn’t mine to lose.
I couldn’t sleep the night before. I got up and made green tea around 2:30 am. I was up earlier than I normally would be that morning because I was tossing and turning all night. I sat outside by the pool reading, by Alex, for a while before it felt too hot and I retreated inside. The first time I heard anything out of the ordinary.
I won’t forget how smokey and orange the sky was, it was almost unbelievable. The smell of smoke, with every breath, as we tried to pile things into cars to evacuate. There wasn’t enough. Not enough room, not enough time. Not enough. I still have the stain of my navy blue polo shirt that I soaked in the sink of the public toilet block in Wallan where I sat, waiting, with You and five dogs, trying to stay cool, anxiously awaiting news. The ink of the navy blue shirt stained my underwear, the least of my worries but a physical reminder of those terrible hours.
Instead I feel guilt. Guilty that it wasn’t my house. Guilty that I feel sad anyway. Guilty for not rescuing more while I could. Guilty that I had the chance to. I feel like an imposter, trying to claim any sadness of that day for myself, I don’t deserve to feel sadness or despair for the house that was lost, the home that was claimed by those disastrous fires. It wasn’t my house.
To the Jones family, I think of you all often, particularly on this day. I’m aware that I may not have shown it enough, so you may not have felt it, but I have great admiration, gratitude and so much love for you all. You all have so much strength and resilience and such a love within your family, I was very lucky to be a part of it. I know you’ll always do well, so you don’t need my wishes, but you always have my love. 🎗🎗🎗
Note: real names were not used for privacy reasons.