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Since leaving Fort Mac I have experienced such highs – people have been exceedingly kind. I have also experienced lows – lower than I’ve ever felt before, and hopefully will never feel again. I am sure this is a common thing among evacuees. I try to keep it positive, to count my many blessings, but it is not easy.

When we were at an Alberta Works office we were chatting with a man who lost his home. Unfortunately he did not have house insurance – I cannot imagine how bleak life must seem to him and his family.  I wonder how people in this situation manage to keep going. We have been extremely fortunate we have a home to go back to. Many people have been laid off, myself included, but I know I will be able to go back to work once things are straightened out. For some even their places of business were lost to the fires. How do they cope? A wise woman once told me when I was going through a difficult time to break it down and make it manageable, to take it just minutes at a time if that was what I needed to do. Since the fire I have tried to follow her advice tackling one thing at a time.

In my experience speaking with representatives from banks and insurance companies, many people do not truly understand the levels of stress evacuees are living with and give more information than a person can process. I know they mean to be helpful, but I often felt overwhelmed. However, when I told one person I was speaking with that I just could not retain so much information she was understanding and gave me a number I could call again in a couple of days. That was very helpful. That was one of the things I found exasperating – the way my short term memory was totally impaired.

Having said all that, things are getting better, much better. My short-term memory seems to be restored and I am not questioning my own sanity nearly as often. This whole experience has made me think of our armed forces, victims of crime, and others who experience PTSD and other mental illnesses – not that my experience even comes close to the trauma that many have to live with – but it has given me a deeper insight. One I will take with me into the rest of my life. It’s been said that things happen for a reason – however impossible it may be to understand at the moment. It has also been said that we are here on earth to learn specific things.  Lesson learned!

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